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i. 

 

“I need to cash in that favor.”

 

Haymitch looked up and saw the underlying pleading look in Plutarch Heavensbee’s eyes. “For what?” 

 

Plutarch let out a breath. “You know the issues that have been popping up from Snow’s Games, that restaurant on the corner of Second and Ninth? The contaminated food that’s got a dozen people in the hospital?” 

 

“Yeah, it’s all over the news,” Haymitch replied. “What about it?”

 

“Well…” Plutarch cleared his throat uncomfortably. “You know that I direct the community theatre show each summer, right?” Haymitch nodded. “One of our cast members, Seneca… he has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks now after visiting Snow’s Games.” He gave Haymitch a pointed look. 

 

Haymitch furrowed his eyebrows. “I ain’t a doctor, Plutarch, I can’t help magically heal him.” 

 

“I know that, I know that,” Plutarch said. “What I want… is for you to take his part in the production.” 

 

Silence. 

 

“His what ?” Haymitch asked. He snorted and shook his head. “You want me to be in your little play?” 

 

“It is a small part,” Plutarch insisted. “Very easy, just a couple of lines.” 

 

He chuckled. “What makes you think I’ll do it?” 

 

Plutarch smiled at that. “You owe me, Haymitch.” 

 

Haymitch frowned. He didn’t like owing anyone, and it had been a while that Plutarch had been holding onto this favor for the opportune time. 

 

“No singing?” he clarified. 

 

Plutarch shook his head. “No singing at all for you.” He gave Haymitch a pleading smile. 

 

And that’s how Haymitch found himself being cast as Kyle the delivery man in Panem’s summer production of “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” 

 

Reluctantly cast. 

 

Very reluctantly...

 

 

ii. 

 

 

There was a small group on the stage practicing something when Haymitch walked into his first official rehearsal. He walked down to the seats littered with duffel bags and snacks and sat down in an empty one. 

 

Plutarch gave him a nod of acknowledgement before turning back to the group on the stage. “Right, from the top please. Effie, you have to nail this move. It’s iconic .”

 

A blonde woman on the stage huffed. “I’m trying .”

 

“Try harder,” Plutarch replied bluntly. “The top. Go.”

 

Haymitch watched as they started to run through the scene that he recognized as one he would appear at the end of. He had read through the script a couple of times since Plutarch had given it to him and thought it was cheesy and ridiculous but at least he didn’t have to sing. 

 

A woman popped up in front of Haymitch and introduced herself as the assistant stage manager (he missed the part where she actually said her name) and asked Haymitch to go stand in the wings of the stage. 

 

(Apparently stages had wings which was really just their fancy way of saying “the sidelines of the stage” but he wasn’t about to argue with a theatre person.)

 

Regardless, he looked on from the sidelines ( wings ) as they continued with the scene on stage. He watched as the woman playing his part’s love interest Paulette— Effie, presumably, from Plutarch’s direction towards her earlier— attempted the bend and snap again. Haymitch found his eyes easily glued to her ass as she bent over slowly before snapping back up, pen in hand. His eyes flickered up to her face and he saw she was looking right at him with a raised eyebrow. 

 

Plutarch was clapping from the audience section. “ Yes ! That is exactly it! Could you feel the power of it that time?”

 

One of the other women on stage snorted in Haymitch's direction. “Yeah, Effie, I think you managed to get some actual attention with that one.” 

 

Effie ignored her and walked over to Haymitch, sticking out a hand. “Kyle, I presume?”

 

“Haymitch,” he corrected. 

 

“Effie,” she replied smoothly. She gave him a once over. “I suppose you will do.”

 

Haymitch snorted. 

 

“Can you dance?” she asked. 

 

He shook his head. “Dance? Plutarch said I only had a couple lines.”

 

She laughed at that and he turned to glare at the director sitting in the audience and pointedly not looking at Haymitch. 

 

“From the top again!” Plutarch said aloud to the group. “Then we will work on adding Haymitch in…”

 

Haymitch snorted again and watched Effie stride away to stand in her spot. He had the pleasure of watching her dance (mostly the pleasure of watching the bend and snap ) through the scene before his entrance. 

 

(But if she was right and he had to fucking dance … then Plutarch was going to owe him after this…)



iii. 



Haymitch found that he was leaving the house more often now for rehearsals, and it was actually doing him some good, so when the opportunity came up for him to spend time on a weekend helping out with building set pieces, he was quick to jump on it. 

 

The set designer showed him the drafts of what she wanted built that day. She was working with Haymitch directly when she saw Finnick (another cast member who had also come in on a day off) doing something wrong and started swearing at him. 

 

“Finnick what the fuck did I tell you about touching that?” 

 

Finnick was quick with his retorts, and the two were soon bickering across the room to each other. 

 

Haymitch smiled slightly at their antics, and felt himself relax as the environment delved into something he was more familiar with (especially compared to all the screeching and dancing when he was on stage).

 

A familiar voice appeared from behind him. “Oh, those two again?” 

 

He turned to see Effie shaking her head as she looked in the direction of Finnick and the set designer. “Does this happen often?”

 

Effie sighed. “Every summer, like clockwork. Finnick will do something he’s not supposed to just because he knows it will rile Johanna up and he can get away with it.” 

 

Haymitch hummed and then looked more closely at her. She was wearing a pair of overalls over a plain shirt and had her hair piled on top of her head with a bandana wrapped around like a crown. 

 

“Are those your manual labor clothes?” he asked. 

 

She raised an eyebrow at him. “For your information I am here to help Peeta.”

 

Haymitch's forehead creased. “Which one is Peeta again?”

 

Effie pointed to a man sitting at the base of one of the structures that had already been built. “He’s our scenic artist. I help him paint sometimes.” Without saying anything else, she stepped away from Haymitch and walked over to Peeta. She was greeted with a smile and a hug as the two started chatting. 

 

Johanna came back over at that moment, muttering under her breath about Finnick, and thrust the plans back into Haymitch's hands. “Build this.” She stalked off and went to go seemingly help Finnick with whatever he had messed up. 

 

A few hours later, Haymitch was finished with the piece he had set out to make and sufficiently tired. Finnick had left already, as had most of the helpers, and it was down to just him, Johanna, Peeta, and Effie. 

 

“Not a bad job,” Johanna said as she looked at his finished product. “You sure you don’t wanna be helping me backstage rather than dancing with these fuckers?”

 

Haymitch snorted but didn’t delve into his favor and why he was really there. “If you need more help, let me know.”

 

“If you can come in tomorrow we have the last pieces to put together for Peeta to paint and then we’ll be done.”

 

“I’ll be here,” Haymitch said with a nod. 

 

Johanna said her goodbyes shortly after and left to go “drink and fuck around” downtown. 

 

Haymitch didn’t quite feel like leaving for his empty house yet, and he wandered over to where Peeta was packing up his bags. 

 

“Need any help?” 

 

Peeta looked up and smiled warily while sticking out a hand. “Oh, hi, uhh, I’m Peeta—“

 

Haymitch shook his hand. “Haymitch. I play Kyle in the show.” 

 

The younger man grinned at that. “Ahh, Effie's hot delivery man.” He nodded over to the other side of the stage where the woman in question was working. “She’s finishing up that piece over there, but I gotta run and meet up with my girlfriend for dinner. Maybe check with Effie?”

 

Effie perked up when she heard her name, and bid Peeta goodnight. Haymitch wandered over to her. 

 

“Need a hand?”

 

She looked surprised for a moment but nodded. “We are just doing a base coat. I'm finishing up the flooring now but there’s that back wall that needs to be painted with this pink if you’d like to start that?” 

 

He grabbed the bucket, scrunching his nose at the color, before moving to the last remaining blank wall. Slowly and methodically, he picked up the big brush and started to add the horrendous color in. 

 

“You help Peeta often?” he asked, curious about how she got here when she clearly was meant for the attention that came with being visible on stage. 

 

“Oh, yes, I find it to be relaxing,” she commented. “I’ve been acting since I was a teenager, but I do enjoy helping out where I can in other areas. I think it helps to create a more well-rounded performer, don’t you?”

 

He hummed an agreement in response. 

 

“Have you performed a lot before?” she asked. 

 

Haymitch snorted and barked out a laugh. 

 

She chuckled. “Not a theatre fan then? How did Plutarch convince you to join?”

 

He hummed again. “Favor,” he said bluntly, leaving it at that. 

 

“Well, this conversation is quite riveting,” she commented. 

 

He turned and gave her a look. “Ain’t gonna talk if there’s nothing to say.”

 

She raised her eyebrows before nodding in acknowledgement. “You are a peculiar man, Haymitch.” 

 

Effie went back to her painting in silence, which left him to do the same. They worked on their areas until they were done, not exchanging anymore words. 

 

Haymitch found the silence to be familiarly lonely, as it would be when he ultimately returned to his cold and isolating house, but having her there with him made it almost… comforting, for once. 

 

iv. 



Haymitch quickly discovered his favorite cast member to work with was the dog playing Rufus. He didn’t try to chat with Haymitch, he didn’t tell him what to do, and he never told him he had to dance

 

(Plutarch had let it slip that day that there was a dance number that Haymitch had to be involved in, and he was still spewing about it an hour later.) 

 

It was a break time for Haymitch, while they ran through the staging for the scene leading up to his goddamn dance number. He was hiding out in a corner backstage with Rufus, who was curled up with his head on Haymitch’s thigh and snoring away. Haymitch had one hand rubbing softly at the folds of Rufus’ neck and the other was holding open a book. 

 

He heard the familiar, accented voice before he saw the owner out of the corner of his eye. 

 

“If he makes us run through that scene one more time I’m going to claw his eyes out,” Effie said. She then appeared out of the corner of his eye next to the props table with Finnick Odair, who was waiting around like Haymitch for later in the scene when his role would appear. 

 

Finnick chuckled. “Calm down, Eff, he’s just being his usual perfectionist.” He held up something in his hand. “Sugar cube?” 

 

Effie shook her head at him as she laughed and took it, popping it into her mouth. “I can’t imagine dealing with him as much as you do.” She sighed and tilted her head to the side. Her eyes narrowed as she looked towards the corner where Haymitch was hiding. “Is that Oscar?” She took a few steps toward Haymitch and a smile spread across her face. “It is!” 

 

She came over and knelt down beside Haymitch, completely ignoring him as she started to gently rub Rufus’ face. “Hi, Oscar,” she said in a sickeningly sweet voice. “What a handsome boy.” 

 

Haymitch felt his forehead crease. “Why are you calling him Oscar?” 

 

Effie didn’t glance up as she continued to make mooneyes at the dog. “That’s his name.” 

 

“No, his name is Rufus.” 

 

A light laughter came from Effie. “No, Haymitch, that’s the character’s name-- Oscar plays Rufus, they’re not one in the same.” 

 

Haymitch grunted, looking down at the dog who was no longer snoring and instead panting happily as Effie rubbed his ears. “Why not just call the character Oscar then? Wouldn’t that be easier for him?” 

 

“You can’t just change character names willy nilly,” Effie said. “We aren’t changing Kyle’s name to Haymitch just because you’re playing him.” She made a cooing noise at the dog. “Oh, you’re just the cutest little boy, aren’t you--” 

 

She was interrupted by the familiar click of a phone camera taking a picture. Haymitch and Effie both looked up to see Plutarch smiling with his phone pointed towards them, while Finnick struggled to contain his laughter behind him. 

 

“An adorable family photo,” Plutarch said as he looked at his screen. “This will be great for publicity!” 

 

Haymitch scoffed. “You and your goddamn publicity .” 

 

Effie continued to scratch behind Ru-- Oscar’s ears. “Oh, I wouldn’t mind a little family if Oscar was involved.” She smiled down at the dog. “Yes, you would love that too, wouldn’t you little buddy?” 

 

Plutarch continued on about social media and photos and everything in between, but Haymitch found his mind was stuck on Effie's comment. 

 

I wouldn’t mind a little family. 

 

v.



He was still furious that he would have to dance in the show - and not some easy sway and snap his fingers kind of dancing, but actual Irish step dancing. He wasn’t a dancer by any means, and it was difficult for him to grasp the movements in the exact way the choreographer wanted them done. 

 

Haymitch didn’t feel very bad for the choreographer that had to deal with him because it certainly wasn’t his choice to dance, but he did feel bad that Effie was stuck with him when she was clearly graceful and well-versed in the art of dance. 

 

“If you cannot get the basics down then how in the world am I supposed to make you shine together on this stage—“

 

“We will spend time practicing together after rehearsal,” Effie said suddenly, interrupting the choreographer mid rant. “Next rehearsal we will have it down.”

 

The choreographer didn’t even hide the glare she sent to Haymitch. “Practice together now . I want to see you two at least grasp the basics .” Without another word, she turned and snapped her fingers to the chorus. “We are switching numbers—“

 

Effie took Haymitch's arm and pulled him to the side. “Let’s go to the other rehearsal room.”

 

He followed her down the hall and shut the door behind them. “Listen, I was told I wouldn’t be dancing—“

 

“You’re too loose,” she interrupted as she whirled around to face him. 

 

“Excuse me? Maybe you need to loosen up ,” he sneered back. 

 

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I mean your dancing is too loose.” She opened her eyes and met his gaze. “Your legs need to be stiff.” She walked behind him and pulled back on his shoulders. “Chin up, shoulders back.” He did as she said. “You should be on your toes for most of the movement - this makes you more lightweight and your movements won’t be as clunky.”

 

“I ain’t a trained dancer like you, of course I’m going to be clunky,” he muttered. 

 

Effie moved to stand in front of him and gave him a soft smile. “We are going to get this, Haymitch, and you’ll be surprised at just how well you will do. I believe in you.” She cleared her throat and turned her back to him. “Now watch me, and be sure to focus on my legs and how they look when I move.”

 

That certainly wouldn’t be difficult. He was a star pupil for once as he kept his eyes focused on—

 

“I said my legs , Haymitch!”

 

He smirked. “Got distracted by the view.” 

 

She shot him a look over her shoulder but he saw her lips turn up as she faced away again. “Try and pay attention correctly this time.” 

 

Haymitch managed to keep his eyes on her legs and watched the movement as she went through their short dance together, humming the tune the whole time. 

 

Now what did you see?” she asked as she turned to face him again. 

 

“Still a nice view—“

 

Haymitch !”

 

“You kept your toes pointed,” he said. “And… your legs never went to the side?”

 

Effie grinned and clapped her hands together once in front of her. “Yes! Wonderful, two very important things.” She moved to stand next to him. “Imagine you are on a tightrope, and even when you leap or kick your legs, you want to remain balanced on it when you land.” She cleared her throat and straightened up, facing ahead. “Chins up, remember. Let’s take this slow. 5, 6, 5-6-7-8–”

 

They made their way through the motions and Haymitch applied what she said. It felt better than it did before, but it was still off. 

 

“That was a great improvement,” she said when they finished. “Remember, though, to keep your arms by your side unless otherwise specified.”

 

He grunted. “It’s hard to remember that part.”

 

“I was trained with a jump rope wrapped around me when I was younger,” she said casually. “I could tie you up if you want?”

 

Haymitch felt himself choke on air. 

 

“I thought you two were supposed to be step dancing, not doing the tango ,” a voice said from the doorway. 

 

“We are step dancing,” Effie retorted to Finnick as the younger cast member strolled into the room. “Aren’t you supposed to be doing something somewhere else?”

 

Finnick shrugged. “Nah. Plutarch is spending time with Brutus on his number. Thought you might need to give a little demonstration.” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively at Effie. 

 

Instead of reprimanding him as Haymitch expected, Effie giggled and held a hand out to Finnick. She didn’t even look at Haymitch as she walked to the center of the room with Finnick. 

 

There was no music, and neither of them hummed, but they seemed to know exactly what to do and at what time as they went through a different style of dance in perfect synchronization. They transitioned seamlessly to different steps and movements. Finnick raised their joined hands and twirled Effie underneath. 

 

Haymitch stood to the side, not sure how this was supposed to be helpful . Effie was clearly enjoying having a competent partner, though they weren’t step dancing so why they were doing it at all confused him. For some reason, he also felt a little angry. 

 

They finally ended with Finnick dipping Effie low to the ground before pulling her back up swiftly. She was giggling as he gave her one final twirl around. He stepped back and lifted one of her hands, bending down to place a kiss on the back of it. 

 

“What a gentleman,” she said with a grin. 

 

“I’m always a gentleman when I’m in the presence of a beautiful lady,” Finnick replied with a twinkling smile. 

 

Haymitch cleared his throat, causing Effie to jump a little. 

 

She turned to Haymitch. “Well?” she asked expectantly. 

 

He crossed his arms. “You looked a little loose .”

 

She raised an eyebrow. “On the contrary I think I was perfectly tight.”

 

Finnick let out a low whistle. “Alright, I’m going to leave you two to… whatever this is.” He gestured towards them vaguely. “Don’t forget to come back and join the rest of the group in 20 minutes or so.” With that, he left. 

 

Haymitch turned back to Effie. “So now what?” 

 

She sighed. “Now, we run it again.” She went and stood beside him in their starting positions. “5, 6, 5-6-7-8--” 

 

vi. 

 

Haymitch was happy to see a familiar face as the costume designer. He had met Cinna a few years back through a mutual friend (well, Cinna’s friend and Haymitch's acquaintance) but they hadn’t kept in touch. 

 

Haymitch was not happy to put on his costume, however. 

 

“Seem a little short, don’t they?” he commented as he stood awkwardly in the wings of the stage in the shorts of his delivery man uniform. 

 

They barely fell to his midthigh and were rather tight on certain parts of him. 

 

Cinna smirked. “That’s the point, you are arriving to give Paulette a package.

 

He snorted. “Yeah a UPS package not my goddamn dick—“

 

Cinna sighed. “Haymitch it’s a euphemism —“

 

“That doesn’t mean my actual dick has to be out—“

 

Language !” a familiar shrill voice came from on stage. “Just because we can’t see you doesn’t mean we can’t hear you!”

 

Before Haymitch could fire back a comment, Plutarch spoke from his seat in the audience. “ Cinna, are you almost finished with Haymitch? I’d like to run the scene with his uniform on .” 

 

“Good to go, Plutarch,” Cinna called back. He lowered his voice for only Haymitch to hear. “Trust me, this uniform is gonna woo her.”

 

“I ain’t trying to woo anyone,” Haymitch countered. 

 

Cinna raised his eyebrows knowingly. “Right,” he said, clearly unconvinced. “Either way, Kyle is trying to woo Paulette , and these are perfect for that.”

 

The scene started on stage as ridiculous music played, making Haymitch resist throwing another disgruntled remark at Cinna as he sauntered over to the counter of the hair salon set. He idled as Effie ran through the scene with Cashmere, the woman playing Elle Woods. 

 

Right, and I could use a friend like that, ” he heard Effie say. 

 

That was his cue to turn and face her while holding his box. 

 

I’ve got a package, ” he said, watching her eyes widen and drop to just below his belt. “ For Miss Paulette Buonofonte .”

 

Effie stared at him, just as the script called for. It was different than other times though. She was a good actress and could make anything seem realistic, but her wide eyes and slightly open mouth seemed almost too realistic. 

 

She was supposed to raise her hand but she didn’t. He had learned earlier in the rehearsal process that if someone forgets a movement or line, to just go on and improv a way out of the scenario, but that was supposed to be his cue for his next line, and he couldn’t think of a different way out of it. 

 

Cashmere saved him by pointing at Effie. He strode towards them till he was standing in front of Effie, his “junk” basically at her eye level like some bad porno. He set the package down at her feet, slowly raising himself back up into a standing position. 

 

The name’s Kyle ,” he grunted. Her eyes flickered up to his finally, and he wishes it didn’t turn him on so much to see her looking up at him through her lashes. “ This is my new route and my first stop of the day. Kinda cool karma, huh? ” 

 

He held out the tablet and stylus for her to sign. Cashmere waited a few seconds before leaning over to sign, as was called for in the script. 

 

Alrighty, then, do me a favor? ” he asked, looking down at Effie still. 

 

She stared back but subtly nodded. 

 

You have yourself a super day ,” he said, his voice instinctively dropping as he took in her slightly dilated pupils and felt the tight shorts somehow tighten further. 

 

He turned and sauntered off the scene, trying his best to not make it obvious he was a little hard. He was finally let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding when he got off the stage and glared at Cinna smirking at him. 

 

“These are ridiculous, ” he grumbled. 

 

Cinna shook his head with a laugh. “No, trust me, that was perfect.”

 

Effie, you have a line here, ” he heard Plutarch say. 

 

Haymitch turned to see Effie still staring after the path Haymitch had taken. She shook her head slightly and cleared her throat. 

 

“My apologies, I forgot,” she said with a subtly shaky voice. 

 

Cashmere was snickering behind her. “Too lost in the view, Effie?”

 

Effie turned to her and while he couldn’t see her face, Haymitch could hear the glare in her voice. “ Stop —“

 

“I don’t blame you, girl, that was a nice package—“

 

Cashmere laughed louder as Effie hissed something at her. Plutarch started calling for their attention, and Haymitch turned back to Cinna. 

 

Cinna was grinning with clear satisfaction. “Nice job, Haymitch.”

 

Haymitch shook his head. “Can you at least give me a size up?”

 

“A size up isn’t going to fix your situation,” the designer replied. 

 

Haymitch! We’re going from the top again, ” Plutarch called out. 

 

Cut off again from snarking Cinna, Haymitch ran through the scene again. Effie was more focused this time on her lines and actions, but she still stared at him with a look he couldn’t quite decipher. 

 

But damn did he want to see that look more. 

 

vii.



When Haymitch was told to do activities to help him “bond” with other soldiers in his various stations across the world, it always seemed to come down to sharing drinks and stories with each other. 

 

After his stint in the military, he kept in touch with just his buddy Chaff, and their idea of bonding was just sitting and watching TV with a drink in hand, or at a bar drinking. He wasn’t much for socializing otherwise, but he engaged heavily with drinking whether he had company or not, to a dangerous point that almost ended in the deaths of two innocent children. 

 

He had been sober ever since, nearly five years to the day. 

 

Apparently the theatre world was similar in that “cast bonding” didn’t translate to going to the movies, or dinner, or even something ridiculous like mini golf. “Cast bonding” was about getting together as a cast (and crew), blasting music, and drinking. 

 

Or, for Haymitch, standing off to the side next to the fireplace with a can of soda and watching a drunk Finnick try to sink a ball into the final cup across from his spot next to a table that had been set up as a poor excuse for a beer pong table. 

 

“Hey there, handsome.” 

 

He looked up to see Effie stepping forward with a cup in hand containing an unknown (but probably alcoholic) beverage. “Princess,” he greeted. 

 

She smiled and looked almost like she was preening at his words. 

 

“Having fun?” he asked as he took a sip of his coke. 

 

Effie hummed before downing the rest of the drink in her hand in one swig and then slamming the cup down on the mantle of the fireplace. 

 

“Are you?” she asked, slinking up close to his side and trailing a hand up his torso to the collar of his shirt, fiddling with the top button. 

 

Definitely an alcoholic beverage she had been drinking. 

 

The music changed to something with a fast pulsed beat. Effie's eyes lit up in recognition. 

 

“Ooh, let’s dance!” Without waiting for him to answer, she turned to face away from and started bumping her hips back and forth to the beat. 

 

His eyes trailed down to watch the distracting sight. 

 

“Haymitch, dance with me ,” she said before backing up so her bumping hips were right up against him. 

 

She was grinding against him. And it was becoming painfully obvious to him. 

 

“Effie, you’re drunk,” he protested, trying to get her to stop rubbing right up against him. 

 

She looked at him over her shoulder with a sultry (or slightly sultry, slightly intoxicated) smile. “And yet it still seems you have a package for me…”

 

He sighed and rubbed a hand across his face. “Well what can you expect after grinding up on me when you look as hot as you do, sweetheart?”

 

Effie turned and stepped so her body was flush against his. Her breath was hot on his cheek as she brought her lips up to his ear. “ You make me feel hot, Haymitch.” Her lips descended to his neck for the briefest fraction of a second before he pushed her away. 

 

“Effie—“

 

“So you don’t want me, then?” she interrupted, her eyes hazily trying to focus on his figure. 

 

“Sweetheart, you’re drunk —“

 

She scoffed. “And you are being ridiculous.” 

 

Without another word, she spun back around, stumbling only slightly, before wandering over to the beer pong table and loudly challenging Finnick to a game. 

 

She didn’t spare him a glance for the rest of the night. 

 

viii. 



It was a little tense at the following rehearsals. 

 

They got through their scenes just fine, but no interaction happened otherwise. 

 

The first time they ended up in a room alone together was on a Saturday where they both were helping Peeta finish up some final touches. 

 

“I’m going to go wash out these brushes and get some fresh water,” Peeta announced suddenly. “Be right back!”

 

He exited the room and left the two of them alone. 

 

Haymitch stared studiously at the work he was doing while Effie climbed up the ladder with a fresh palette to touch up the top parts of the set background. 

 

They worked in silence for a couple minutes before he heard her swear under her breath. 

 

He jerked his head up to see her looking down at a splotch of paint on the floor with a paintbrush in it. He supposed she must have dropped it. 

 

She took a step down on the ladder and it shook a little. She paused before taking another step. 

 

He saw it moving before she did and started towards her with long strides. 

 

The ladder shook again, and started to slide sideways. She squeaked and scrunched her face into her arms as she prepared to hit the ground along with the ladder. 

 

He was there to catch her and pull her off and away before the impact happened. The ladder clattered to the ground loudly while he grunted and fell to his knees with her. 

 

She was shaking in his arms as she looked around in shock. 

 

“Are you okay?” he asked, looking for any signs of blood or marks on her as his knees screamed at him for the way he landed. 

 

Effie nodded, and he helped her stand. He did a once-over of her to make sure she was actually okay before brushing the dust off of his knees. 

 

“Thank you,” she said softly. 

 

Haymitch nodded awkwardly in response and turned to walk back to his spot, but was stopped by her grabbing his arm. 

 

She stared at him nervously as she held her hands together in front of her chest. “I… I wanted to apologize for my behavior at the party—“

 

He shook his head. “Effie, you’re fine—“

 

“No,” she interrupted. “I was… out of line, and disrespectful, and I shouldn’t have harassed you and—”

 

“Hey, it’s fine—”

 

She continued on. “I was drunk and that’s no excuse but—”

 

“Effie,” he said louder, placing a hand on her shoulder. She jerked a little in surprise but looked up at him and stopped talking. “Sweetheart, you’re fine. Alcohol can make you… do some shit.” He gave a small shrug. “Trust me, I know.” 

 

“I still feel awful,” she said softly. “And it’s been so awkward ever since, I thought you must hate me—“

 

“I couldn’t hate you,” he said in a tone that matched hers. “I might hate dancing, and being in this show, but I don’t hate you, sweetheart.”

 

She smiled up at him before looking down and grabbing his free hand with hers. “Thank you.” She looked back up and tilted her head, her eyes flickering down for just a second before snapping back to meet his gaze. Her mouth opened as if she was about to say something— 

 

The door opened and they sprang apart. 

 

“Oh, sorry,” Peeta said as he stared wide eyed at the two. “Am I… interrupting…”

 

“No,” they replied simultaneously. 

 

Peeta looked uncertainly between them but nodded. He looked over and saw the fallen ladder. “Shit— are you both okay? Did this fall when you were on it Effie?”

 

“I’m fine,” she commented. “Nobody was hurt.” 

 

The painter didn’t look convinced. “Maybe we should wait to finish that top part till we make sure that ladder is safe.” 

 

That seemed to send Effie into a tither. “ Peeta , you have to stick to your painting schedule if you want to complete this by the time…”

 

And, as usual, Haymitch tuned her out as she went off about timing and deadlines and started chirping orders to him like he wasn’t the scenic painter for the show and was actually her volunteer…

 

He smiled softly to himself thinking about her ridiculous quirks as he went back to finishing his painting. 

 

ix. 



“We’re going to take a break real quick because Enobaria just showed up for her couple of hours that she had available today and we need to get through her number before she has to leave,” Plutarch announced. “Everyone who is not in the ‘Whipped Into Shape’ number is free to relax in the audience seats for a bit while we run this through.” 

 

That meant Haymitch. Again. 

 

He started putting his props back on the table in their assigned spots. Finding the assigned spots for the “package” and his tablet were easy, but he was having trouble finding the small slot where his extra stylus went. He pushed a couple things around gently (but not too much, because he had been yelled at by the props manager one too many times for touching props that weren’t his) to try and find the small spot where it belonged. 

 

There were footsteps as a group walked from the door leading to the green room towards the stage. 

 

“I’ll grab the jump ropes if you want to start warming up.” 

 

Haymitch finally had his ‘aha’ moment, placing the stylus gently into its spot, as he heard Effie’s voice behind him. He turned to make a snarky comment and froze in his spot when he saw her. 

 

She had changed out of her Paulette outfit and was now wearing orange jumpsuit pants with sneakers and had an orange jacket wrapped around her waist. The only thing covering her torso was a bright orange sports bra, and the lack of coverage led to him having a great view of her neck, collarbone, the hint of cleavage, and a smooth stomach ( were those fucking abs ), all of which Haymitch had the sudden urge to run his tongue over. 

 

Effie caught him staring, of course. “I know, isn’t it hideous?” she asked. “Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed.” She let out a tinkling laugh as if she had made a joke and paused when she saw he hadn’t moved. “Oh, I suppose you probably haven’t seen the movie this play was based off of…” She snorted. “That was silly of me to even think you had .” 

 

Haymitch cleared his throat, trying to tear his eyes away from the copious amounts of skin. 

 

Had she always been this hot? Of course she had, and of course he had noticed before, but it never had been to this point…

 

“Does it really look that bad?” she asked, looking down at it and sounding uncertain. 

 

He cleared his throat again and shook his head. “No, no, you look…” He let out a little cough. “You look great.” 

 

Her eyes snapped up to his and she raised an eyebrow, a sudden twinkle appearing in her eye. “ Ah .” She sauntered towards him and passed by his side, her arm brushing against his as she grabbed the jump ropes off of the props table. She stood by his side, and looked up at him through her eyelashes, a smirk evident on her face. “I have to go be one of the prisoners for a little bit, but I’ll be back as Paulette later, and I’m sure I’ll see you and your package afterwards when we go back to our scene.” She winked at him before sauntering off. 

 

His eyes were glued to her hips the whole time as she purposefully swayed them a little bit more to catch his eye. 

 

Fuck

 

x. 



“Stop, stop, stop!” Plutarch yelled as he got up from his chair, causing all of the music and dancing to cease. “Effie, Haymitch, I wanna try something different-- everyone else, take five.” 

 

They were in the midst of the very dance-heavy number “Legally Blonde Remix,” at a point where Haymitch and Effie’s characters finally seem to seal the deal on their relationship. 

 

Plutarch had stopped them at the end of the lift that they had practiced over and over again to perfect, and that Haymitch thought had been great. It was a less risky move than the “Dirty Dancing” lift that everyone kept comparing it to. He hadn’t dropped Effie and had maintained his firm grip around her legs (trying hard not to grab her ass but still partially grabbing it) to keep her hoisted in the air. 

 

“What’s wrong, Plutarch? I thought that went well,” Effie commented as she stood close beside Haymitch, partially out of breath from the effort of the dance. 

 

“Yes, the lift was wonderful,” Plutarch agreed. “I was just thinking of something we could add in that the original production didn’t have that I think fits perfectly right here… if you two are comfortable with it, that is.” 

 

Haymitch raised an eyebrow. “Comfortable with what ?” 

 

Plutarch grinned his usual conniving grin. “Instead of that second spin once you lift Effie, I was thinking we could try seeing what it looked like if you two shared a kiss instead, and then went right into the stepline from there.” 

 

Effie and Haymitch turned to each other, both looking similarly lost and looking for guidance from the other. 

 

“Nothing too big, just a nice short kiss to symbolize how this is the moment Kyle and Paulette find they are meant for each other and are ready to be together forever,” Plutarch explained. “Do you mind trying that on the next run?” 

 

Ever the professional, Effie spoke up. “Yes, of course.” She looked up at Haymitch again. “If you are comfortable, that is?” 

 

Haymitch nodded. “Yup.” 

 

Plutarch clapped his hands together and smiled. “Wonderful!” He turned to walk back to his chair. “Places everyone-- from the top of this number!” 

 

They went through the similar movements of opening up the scene in Paulette’s shop, to the transitions that add in Elle Woods’ parents and friends, and finally to Haymitch coming on scene with another package. 

 

He and Effie had put hours of work into this number. She had helped him go from a stumbling newborn lamb to the semi-competent Irish step dancer that was just weeks away from performing. 

 

He lifted his legs when he needed to, stepped to the right beat, stayed synchronized with the rest of the cast, and then ran to the middle to hoist Effie up as they had practiced dozens of times before. He spun them around once, and then as Plutarch suggested, set her down instead of continuing with a second spin. 

 

There was no time for hesitation, and the beat and thrill of the music was still pulsing through him as he grabbed her face in his hands and quickly melded their lips together. 

 

Time stopped. It felt so cheesy, but everything faded away for a moment as Effie brought her arms up to circle his neck and pull him closer. Her lips moved against his, and he felt her sigh as she pulled herself closer to him. 

 

The noises around them came back slowly, and Haymitch realized they had completely missed their queue to continue on. He heard Plutarch shout something, and then the music stopped abruptly. There were a couple coughs and throat clearings as they finally broke apart. 

 

“You… didn’t need to go on for that long,” Plutarch said, a slight blush evident on his cheeks. 

 

The blushes that appeared on Haymitch and Effie’s cheeks were anything but slight. They avoided eye contact while Finnick made kissing noises from the side of the stage. Haymitch glared at him but it only made the kid’s grin wider. 

 

Plutarch cleared his throat again and waved his hand. “Alright, back to the top then…” 

 

xi.



“I ain’t wearing any fucking makeup.”

 

Effie rolled her eyes and continued placing various products on the dressing room table. “It is so you do not look washed out under the stage lights, Haymitch—“ 

 

He shook his head from his spot in the chair by the table. “ Fuck no, I’m not about to look like a clown —“

 

“The audience won’t even be able to tell,” she interrupted as she grabbed something from the pile with one hand and pulled his chin into her grasp with the other, tilting it up so his eyes met hers. 

 

He grabbed her wrist instinctively, tightly gripping it to the point that she gasped. They both froze and stared at each other for a moment before she loosened her grip on his chin. He released her wrist and she cleared her throat uncomfortably before holding up the product in her other hand. 

 

“Just let me put this on.”

 

Haymitch sighed. “What is it?”

 

Effie held it closer to him so he could read the words that didn’t make sense anyway. “Foundation, it’s just going to even your skin tone on your face. We need to see if this is the closest to your natural tone first, though.”

 

He looked over at all the other products. “What’s all that?”

 

She purses her lips. “Other… stuff.” He raised his eyebrows. “Fine, I just wanted to add in some eyeliner and mascara—“

 

No!

 

“But you have such beautiful eyes and they would pop so much more with just a little liner,” she whined. 

 

He stopped and smirked. “Beautiful eyes, sweetheart?” 

 

Effie blushed but otherwise ignored his comment. “We will keep everything basic for your preference but I will be putting something on your face for my sanity.” She huffed and placed her hands on her hips as she looked at his face. “Now, did you put moisturizer on your face this morning?”

 

“Did I put what ?”

 

She sighed. “I would yell at you if I wasn’t on vocal rest,” she muttered. “Skin care is important , Haymitch.” She pulled out another small bottle from her bag. “This is moisturizer. Not visible at all, just there to keep your skin healthy and not so dry, and help protect it from the makeup.” She didn’t wait for him to say anything before squeezing some of it onto her palm. She hummed something to herself as she started applying the moisturizer.

 

And while he wouldn’t admit anything to anyone who asked, he found his tension ebbing away as he relaxed while her hands gently caressed his face. 



xii.



Once they started doing full run-throughs of the show, Haymitch truly realized just how little of the play he was in. He spent the entire first act sitting in the audience. Effie sat with him through the first part until her character started appearing. 

 

It wasn’t usually too bad, and he found ways to keep himself entertained besides listening to the screams and squeals of the sorority characters in the beginning. 

 

When it came time for the tech run, however…

 

It had been hours of him sitting in the audience, his ass slowly going numb, with Effie by his side as they droned through the first couple of songs while synchronizing the technical pieces like lights and sound. 

 

Now their early morning call with the note that they would be expecting a late night made more sense. 

 

Effie had a notebook out and was jotting down notes to herself. From what it looked like, she was currently writing up a grocery list. 

 

Haymitch, bored already and knowing he wasn’t going to be doing anything on the stage anytime soon, snagged the pen out of her hand. Ignoring her look of confusion, he then proceeded to draw four intersecting lines in a grid fashion. 

 

She snorted softly and snatched the pen back before drawing an ‘x’ in the center square. He shook his head and took back the pen to draw an ‘o’ to the left of it. 

 

Three moves later they came to a stand-off. Effie drew another grid. 

 

They filled up the page of her notebook before they had to call it quits as her first scene came up. She deposited her pen and notebook into his lap and told him to watch it while she was gone. 

 

After the scene where Paulette gets Rufus back from her evil ex, Effie was done with her scenes for Act 1 and came back to sit with Haymitch till they both went back for Act 2. He handed her notebook back to her and she placed it off to the side and watched what was happening on stage. 

 

A few minutes passed before Haymitch felt a thump on his shoulder. 

 

He looked and saw Effie resting her head against him with her eyes closed.

 

A small smile came over his face and he did his best to not make too much movement so she wouldn’t wake up. 

 

She deserved some rest. 

 

(And her hair smelled good.)

 

(Not that he noticed, of course.)

 

 

xiii. 



 

Opening night came up much sooner than Haymitch expected. 

 

It was easier than he thought it would be to forget the audience when Effie was there in each scene and he could just pretend it was still a regular rehearsal with her. 

 

With some of Plutarch’s last minute changes, they had started to look a little choppy with the flow of the leap, but that night they managed to nail it and both were smiling so much they easily slid right into the kiss. 

 

The end came, with Haymitch just having to sit with his back to the audience while Effie sang about everyone’s futures, including Kyle and Paulette who get married and have a couple kids. Effie wore a fake pregnant stomach for the scene and Haymitch thought it fit her really well. Her face even seemed to glow as she wrapped an arm around Haymitch before settling back down for the final lines from Elle and the chorus.

 

The bows came and went, and then the cast lined up outside to greet audience members. Chaff was the only one Haymitch knew who came, and he couldn’t stay long (which was okay with Haymitch in the end because all Chaff could do was laugh about Haymitch's role and the show overall). He had gone back to his dressing room and changed into his street clothes when he remembered the purchase he had made prior to the show - a simple, small bouquet of roses. 

 

He grabbed the flowers and wove through the crowd of excited cast and crew members before ending up in front of Effie's dressing room. He knocked lightly. 

 

Come in !”

 

He pushed open the door and swiftly closed it behind him. The muted tones of the conversation outside still filtered through, but the dramatic decrease in volume was very welcomed. 

 

Effie was smiling at him from her chair in front of the mirror. “Haymitch.”

 

He held out the flowers awkwardly to her. “I heard it’s tradition to give the star a bouquet. I know it ain’t a lot and I’m sure you got nicer ones from your family, but… happy opening night, sweetheart.”

 

She tenderly took the small bouquet from him and stared in awe at it before looking up at him with a watery gaze. “My family doesn’t come to my shows,” she said softly. “These are the first flowers I’ve received in years.”

 

That certainly wasn’t what he expected her to say.

 

“You did great, sweetheart,” he said genuinely. “You deserve ‘em.”

 

She set them down gently before standing up and moving so she was directly in front of him. “I really appreciate it, Haymitch.” She smoothed out the lapels of his coat, her fingers shaking just slightly. “It’s… been very nice having you here through the show…”

 

“It’s….” He laughed. “It’s been something else being here.” 

 

She smiled. “Yes, well, that's the thrill of opening night. How did you like it?”

 

Haymitch brought his hands to rest on her waist but shrugged. “Not too bad.”

 

Effie looked up at him. “Do you think you’ll come back for more next summer?”

 

He shook his head. “I don’t think my place is on the stage.”

 

She looked disappointed almost as she moved her gaze down to her fingers still fiddling with his lapels. “Oh, well… I suppose it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.”

 

“Might lend Jo a hand with sets,” he said as he gave a light squeeze on her hip. 

 

“Yeah?” She smiled hopefully up at him. 

 

“Yeah,” he confirmed. “I’ll have to come by anyway so might as well.”

 

She looked at him with confusion written plainly on her face. “You’ll be coming anyway? What for?”

 

He brought his hands up slowly to cradle her face. “Gotta come see this summer's star shine on the stage again next time around…”

 

Effie let out a short laugh. “Yeah?”

 

“Yeah,” he replied again. “You should see how great her ass looks when she does the bend and snap—”

 

“Haymitch you are ruining the moment ,” she scoffed. 

 

What moment?”

 

This moment.” She shut him up quickly by stepping up on her tiptoes and pulling him in for a deep kiss. 

 

They had kissed a couple dozen times now at least from their one scene in the show, but this time felt more like their first as he moved his lips against hers and pulled her closer. She hummed against him and he felt himself start to smile. He softly nipped her lip and she let out a whine as he pulled away and rested his forehead against hers. 

 

He let out a hum. “You know what would really ruin the moment is me making an innuendo about having a package for you—” 

 

Haymitch ,” she interrupted with a roll of her eyes as she pulled her head back. 

 

“Princess?” he asked with a cheeky grin. 

 

Effie pursed her lips but grinned. “Do me a favor?” He nodded. “Just shut up and kiss me again.” 

 

He was more than happy to oblige with that favor.