The rest of Aubrey’s year passed in relative turmoil. Her family buried Arthur and Jolene side by side in the family plot, and when Aubrey wasn’t staring at a silent phone at home or eating dinner with Jason, she was in the Capitol keeping her word. It didn’t matter whether Stacie agreed or not because at the end of the day, Aubrey rather the brunette was alive to hate her than dead.
The day Aubrey had been called into Snow’s office was by far the worst of Aubrey’s life. Not only had she watched her brother die on television, but she also learned that nothing was safe. Especially not Stacie. The words “I’m Safe,” sounded in the back of Aubrey’s mind ironically as she stirred her drink. She was at a bar, taking some time to herself after her latest patron. She was in a sparkling dress and her blonde hair was draped over a shoulder. She looked good, but she wanted to be home. Or possibly back in time where all she did during the day was a daydream of the girl and the stars before tucking her youngest siblings into bed, despite their protests. Sometimes she wondered if she died in that arena too.
“Is this seat taken?” A voice inquired, Aubrey turned to see the bright blue eyes of her best friend, Chloe Beale. “I believe it belongs to a redhead from district 4;” Aubrey chuckled. Chloe sat.
“Word on the street is that the Hunter hasn’t stopped, although she’s definitely switched to Victors instead of Capitol people.”
“I rather she fuck one of us instead of one of them,” Aubrey sighed.
The redhead hummed in reply, flagging down the bartender. “Do you think she loves you back?”
“Doesn’t matter, it’s over. Whatever it was,” Aubrey adds the second part with a tinge of bitterness. She stops for a moment, staring into the depths of her glass. “He really took everything from me, my mom, Arthur, Jolene… Stacie. Now Jason.”
“She’s not dead,” Chloe pointed out.
“Yeah, but I might as well be;” Aubrey grimaced. “She didn’t even call when-”
“The news hasn’t broken yet in the other districts Aubrey, she probably doesn’t know.”
“Daddy won’t even talk to me,” Aubrey muttered under her breath.
“How did he die, you still haven’t told me;” Chloe inquired.
“I messed up,” Aubrey shrugged, “There was a couple who paid for my time, but they also paid for my brother’s. They wanted me to do something, I refused. The guy attacked me, fucking asshole. Jason fought him off for me.”
“You can’t hit a Capitol citizen without their consent,” Chloe uttered in understanding.
“They get to do whatever they want to us though,” Aubrey snorted. “Snow didn’t care, of course. Goodbye Jason. We got his body back two days ago, with a card. If I mess up again, well. I really have no one left.”
“Will he go after your dad?”
“No, my dad is so firmly in Snow’s pocket, he wouldn’t bother.”
Aubrey turned to look at her best friend, her eyes shimmering with unshed tears. “I really should have just kept the berries down, huh?”
Chloe gasped and leaned forward to wrap Aubrey in her arms, “No, Bree. You’re my best friend and I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“What do I do Chloe? I lost the girl, the rest of my family is gone and my Dad hates me.”
“He doesn’t hate you, he’s just stupid.” Aubrey snorted at her friend’s words, shaking her head as she chuckled and cried at the same time. “I still love her,” she murmured into the ginger’s neck. “I know, babe;” Chloe hummed. “I hope I love someone as much as you two idiots love each other, one day.”
“It’s not enough,” Aubrey mumbled.
“It will be,” Chloe whispered back.
The 71s Hunger Games begin and the winner is a girl named Jessica from 8, she’s a bubbly blonde that the crowds rave over. Her talent is singing and she ends her final interview with a song to her girlfriend back home. The crowd goes wild and cheers her on with increased adoration.
That year is also marked by the sound of the phone ringing when the news of Jason’s death breaks. The caller ID showed Stacie’s name from when she had programmed it in. When Aubrey picks up, though, the line goes dead and she feels her heartbreak all over again.
Aubrey’s father goes missing the year of the 72nd games. He was conducting a missing person search with his peacekeepers when he vanished. Aubrey hops a train to the Capitol, begging President Snow to release her father wherever he’s being kept. The President portends that he has no idea what she’s talking about and Aubrey is the last living Posen.
She pretends to not hear the rumors of her family’s curse. Sometimes she wonders if they’re right. That year is marked by the first District 2 win since Aubrey. His name is Anders and Aubrey wishes her dad was around to see it. She wonders whether he’d actually look at her with pride at that moment? Whether it would have been worth it.
The 73rd Hunger Games is mostly uneventful, the most memorable moment is her glimpse of Stacie on the stage as she stands behind her tribute. District 3 won that year, something that Aubrey’s father would have berated her for. But there Stacie is, wearing a blue dress that brings out the azure flecks in seafoam eyes and red lipstick, standing behind a gangly boy with glasses. Aubrey doesn’t think she’ll ever stop loving Stacie, no matter how long they stay apart. She’s not sure she’d ever want to.
Stacie is back in the Capitol and Aubrey doesn’t even realize she hasn’t been requested for a majority of that year.
The 73rd Hunger Games has passed and the victory tour is afoot. Aubrey gets wind of Stacie’s little sister, Gwen’s, death. It wasn’t the games this time, it was illness. Aubrey calls this time but Stacie doesn’t pick up. She leaves a message saying how sorry she is and that she’s there to talk if the younger girl needs it. She bites her tongue before saying the three words that hurt so much, there was no need to open old wounds. Especially when the feeling wasn’t mutual.
The 74th Hunger Games is upon them and things feel different. Aubrey can’t place her finger on it. A girl from District 12 volunteers, a tiny thing named Beca Mitchell. The girl’s appearance on screen captures Chloe’s immediate attention, something about her is different. These games are different. The girl volunteered for another girl named Emily Junk. District 12 has its first volunteer.
Amongst the other tributes, Stacie’s little sister is reaped. Kira goes into the games, she’s only twelve. Aubrey whispers her deepest regrets to Stacie in the crowd of the parade that night. For a moment Stacie takes her hand and squeezes. The brief amount of contact feels like the air has returned to the world and Aubrey breathes for the first time in years.
The boy tribute from District 12, Jesse confesses his love for Beca in the middle of his interview. Beca managed to get an 11 training score, and now she’s part of the star-crossed lovers of District 12. “She’s safe,” A voice whispers in the back of Aubrey’s mind.
Aubrey is mentoring a boy from 2 named Luke. He has rippling muscles and is skilled with a sword. Chloe begins to fidget when Aubrey informs her of his skills. His training score was a 10, one point below Beca’s which had Luke roaring in rage. His temper is wild and untempered. Aubrey lets this slip to Chloe in her frustration, missing the thoughtful look in the ginger’s eyes.
The Games have begun and Beca has run into a fair amount of trouble. They’re in a wooded arena with plenty of trees and greenery. Leagues better than the 73rd where they all had to bludgeon each other to death while in a snowy tundra. Aubrey watches as Jesse pines and Beca makes camp on a long list of trees. Their love story unfolds for all to see.
Stacie’s sister allies with Beca. The two become companions as Beca cares for the little girl, singing songs with the twelve-year-old and foraging for berries. The two share roasted pheasants and shreds of fruit. Fat Amy is seen amongst the crowds, doing her job as a mentor for the first time in a while. She had apparently taken a liking to Beca.
Kira dies, she’s hit in the stomach with a spear by the boy from District 1. Aubrey doesn’t know what to say but she finds herself standing at the door to Stacie’s room, tapping.
She doesn’t expect to be let in, but she is. What follows is a single night where their words, their history goes away. Stacie needs her and Aubrey doesn’t have it in her to ever walk away again. They don’t sleep together in a carnal sense, Aubrey refuses to take advantage of Stacie in such a vulnerable state, but they do curl together and feel one another’s hearts beating. They breathe in and out, filling themselves with each other’s scent. Praying that there would be a day where they would wake up and everything was simply a bad dream.
They dreamt of longer days filled with ease and love. They dreamt of a forever with one another. What their subconsciouses realized that day is that they loved each other, that never stopped. It was simply that moment where they let that be enough.
Beca Mitchell wins the 74th Hunger Games, with Jesse. They have two victors, two victors that became so because they threatened to kill themselves otherwise. Snow is livid, and all eyes are off of Aubrey and Stacie. Instead, there are whispers of rebellion and riots circling the Districts. Aubrey gets wind of it first. She immediately calls Stacie, wondering if their “maybe someday” was closer than they thought. It breaks her heart a little when the brunette doesn’t pick up.
The victory tour begins and Aubrey wonders if Beca is the real deal. A revolution is beginning to galvanize around the girl, and she seems to have no clue what she’s doing. Yet, when Aubrey voices her concerns to Chloe while in the Capitol, she’s dismissed. There’s nothing to be done yet. It’s only unrest, they need time.
There’s no time. Riots have broken out in 3 and peacekeepers have cracked down. Aubrey wants to call Stacie but the phone won’t even connect to the girl’s line. All the blonde can do is hope Stacie is alright, all she can do is hope that there’s still a chance for maybe someday. Hopes that are dashed two months later when the Quarter Quell is announced. Tributes are to be reaped from the existing pool of victors. Aubrey screams, she breaks her television, her dishes, and her glasses. She might be going back into the arena.
Her next couple of months are spent training for her eventual return to the arena, Aubrey doubts that Snow is going to leave her alive. Her death would probably be a revelry for the thick-lipped snake. She wonders if it’s too much to hope that Stacie makes it out alive. If it’s too much to wish for a happy ever after.
Aubrey’s name is pulled and no one volunteers. She knows deep in her gut that Snow rigged the bowl. She wonders if all the papers have her name written in crisp print, or if the escort is in on it. Either way, Aubrey accepts her fate with a look of steely determination. No one weeps for her, there’s no one left.
As soon as Aubrey arrives in the capitol she’s placed in a toga and given a winged crown. Her hair is curled and sprinkled with glitter. Chloe stands in her chariot with most of her body on display, Panem’s sweetheart. The redhead sprints towards her and wraps her in a hug, Beca trails awkward behind the girl with Jesse at her side. The girl is shorter in person. “District 12,” Aubrey greeted the brunette politely. Beca wrinkled her nose in disgust as though Aubrey had smeared dog excrement on the girl’s face.
“Have I done something to offend you?” Aubrey inquired.
“You mentored Luke last year,” Beca exclaimed.
“I’ve mentored a lot of people,” Aubrey said through gritted teeth, her brother and sister’s faces flashed in her mind. The shorter girl only hummed in response. Aubrey wanted to kick her or kill her. However, before Aubrey got a chance to give the hobbit a piece of her mind when Stacie approached and wrapped the smaller woman in a hug. “The golden girl herself,” the leggy brunette proclaimed cheerfully.
Aubrey suppressed a snicker as she watched the smaller girl scramble to get out of the taller brunette’s embrace. “Who, are you? Get off me!” Beca protested. Jesse laughed beside her and gently helped extricate Beca from Stacie’s grip. “Beca, nice to meet you. I’m Stacie.” The tall brunette grinned, she held out her hand to Beca who took it. “Hi?”
“I wanted to say thank you for everything you did for Kira, you have my family’s deepest gratitude. The lullaby you sang her and the flowers, we really can’t thank you enough.”
Beca’s eyes widened in recognition, “You’re her older sister. Ana?”
“That’s me,” Stacie said with a small smile. Aubrey didn’t miss the pain in the taller girl’s seafoam eyes.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t do more-”
“I know, you said it in your speech, my brothers told me. I just wish I could have been there, I was otherwise preoccupied outside of my district though.”
“Right, he’s a hunter;” Beca muttered uncomfortably. Chloe and Stacie broke into laughter at Beca’s comment while Aubrey and Beca watched in respective amusement and confusion. “Hey, too bad we’re all going back into the arena, you could have made out like a bandit,” Stacie commented, her tone was flirtatious. Aubrey felt bile rise in the back of her throat as she turned around and walked to the horses attempting to ignore the conversation. Albeit, unsuccessfully.
“What do you mean?” Beca inquired.
“People would pay you endlessly for your company,” Stacie replied.
“Not that you’d necessarily want their company,” Jesse quipped.
“True, but there are so many treasures to discover,” Stacie countered.
“I have enough money,” Beca snorted.
“Then don’t take money,” Stacie shrugged. “Take secrets.”
“Secrets?” Beca stammered.
“Yeah Becs, do you have any secrets?” Stacie teased, a wide smile on her face. Aubrey turned to peer at the girl suspiciously for a moment. She didn’t know what was happening but one thing was abundantly clear. Regardless of that last night, they had together, it meant nothing. She was just comfort, a friend, maybe. There’s no way Stacie could feel the same and flirt with Beca right in front of her otherwise. Aubrey boarded her chariot, standing beside Chicago, she waited for the parade to begin.
The following weeks left a bitter taste in Aubrey’s mouth as she watched Stacie grow increasingly close with Beca. The two seemed to have a lot in common as they discussed the state of their districts and the encroaching ambiance of peril. Aubrey wondered if she could kill the smaller girl before her own cannon sounded. “Eying your girl?” Chloe chuckled from beside Aubrey. The blonde grunted in response, eying the pair bitterly.
“You have nothing to worry about, she loves you;” Chloe reassured her.
“When the news broke, did you get a call from anyone?” Aubrey inquired casually.
Chloe looked at Aubrey blankly, confused. “Yeah, Why?”
“I didn’t, I called, but I got no response. I can assume she was busy, but obviously, if it was just scheduling or technology problems she would have talked to me. She doesn’t care Chloe, and that’s okay.”
“No, I know how this will go. We’re going into this arena, and only one of us is coming out. If she can move on, that’s good, because that’ll give her a better chance at happiness when it’s over.”
“What are you talking about, Bree?”
“You’d forgive me, right? If we had to pick between the impossible when we’re in there? If you can’t I’m sorry, but I’ve made up my mind.”
“Aubrey, what are you-”
“Stacie is making it out of the arena Chloe, I’m going to make sure of that. You and her, you’re all I have left, and I’m not stupid. I’ve seen how you and twelve are looking at each other. You wouldn’t hesitate either.”
Chloe’s eyes widened in understanding as she looked at her friend in a whole new light. “You’re going to give this all you’ve got, aren’t you?” Aubrey glanced at her friend, guilt evident in her eyes. “I need to get back to sparring,” Aubrey dismissed her friend. The ginger frowned but backed away, leaving the blonde to her thoughts.
The days passed in relative monotony. The tributes trained in the newly made training facilities and formed their various alliances. Aubrey tried to ignore the pang in her chest when she never got an alliance offer from Stacie. Instead, she allied with her district partner, Chicago, and the two victors from District 1. Kommisar and Pieter. The two were impressive in their fighting capabilities, they formed that year’s career pack.
When Aubrey wasn’t strategizing with her new allies, she paced her private room and planned how she would get Stacie or Chloe out alive. Of course, she wondered which one would win, and who she would choose if nature didn’t take its course with at least one of them. Her best friend and the love of her life were on the other side. Aubrey knew Chicago's weaknesses, she also knew that Chloe could take the man easily. Yet, Kommisar and Pieter posed an entirely new problem. They were efficient and merciless killers, together they were almost a machine. The two seemed to move as though they had a mental link. Aubrey had no clue how she would take them out. Maybe in their sleep? Aubrey sighed and pushed the thought away for the night. She had three more days to figure it out before her feet hit the ground in the arena.
The following days passed quickly. The entire career pack got 10’s, Stacie received a 10 as well, something that Aubrey smiled privately about. The words: That’s my girl, sounded in her head before she could stop them, followed by a tinge of sorrow. Chloe received a 10 as well, something the announcers were positively excited about since the Quarter Quell would “undoubtedly be the best games ever seen, what with so many prodigious contenders.” Benji received a 6, Cynthia Rose got an 8, District 8’s Jessica received a 7, and District 10’s Alice received a 9. When the tributes from Eleven passed in a fairly underwhelming fashion, District 12’s Jesse appeared with the number 12 next to his face. Aubrey gasped in horror, her anxiety only increasing when she saw Beca’s face appear with the same score.
“I guess we know who we’re gunning for,” Chicago chuckled.
The interviews were beginning and Aubrey was waiting by the stage when she felt someone approach her. “Yes?” She turned to greet the person, she suspected them to be one of the stagehands but was astounded to meet Beca’s eyes. The girl stood in a large white dress, it took Aubrey a moment, but she eventually realized it was a wedding dress. The blonde hadn’t paid too much attention to the Capitol gossip rags, but she did faintly recall the Capitol being particularly invested in wedding plans. She had simply forgotten that it was for one Beca Mitchell.
“You’re wearing that?” Aubrey scoffed for a moment, unable to help herself. Her dislike and jealousy of the girl got the best of her at that moment.
“Snow made me wear it,” The petite brunette grumbled. Aubrey felt a hint of sympathy for the girl then. After all, if anyone knows what it’s like to have their life meddled with by President Snow, it was her. “Make him pay for it,” Aubrey murmured, straightening one of the dress’s many ruffles.
Once Kommisar and Pieter finish their interview Aubrey walks up and takes her place on the stage with Caesar Flickerman. “Aubrey! The Captain, Posen! How are you?”
“Hello Caesar, I’m doing well at the moment, although I don’t appreciate being called back here again.”
“Really? You don’t want to give it the good old Posen try? Come on, what happened to that can-do attitude from your first games?”
“Well Caesar, I thought we made a deal. I go and win the games, so I could live in peace, but instead, I’m here, and Panem has decided they want to kill me again.” Aubrey answered tersely.
“Does that mean you’ve given up? Because I’m sure that’s not what your family would want.” Those were the wrong words. Aubrey’s fists tightened as she remembered Arthur and Jolene, how they looked when they climbed those steps and onto the stage. She remembered Stacie and then Stacie’s sister. She remembered her last embrace with her brother before the Peacekeepers came to collect him. At that moment Aubrey broke.
“Fuck you, Caesar, Fuck you, and Fuck the Gamemakers. Fuck all of you, and everyone that has anything to do with the Hunger Games. Fuck your hubris, fuck your -”
The crowd doesn’t get to hear the rest of Aubrey’s statement because her mic instantly goes off, she’s instantly being guided off the stage by Anders and her stylists as Caesar amicably smooths things over with the, now uncomfortable, crowd. Aubrey struggles against her handlers as Chicago walks on stage. “What are you thinking Aubrey, no one’s going to want to sponsor you now!” Anders snapped.
“I don’t care! It’s not like I was going to live through these games anyway, we’re just all waiting to see how it happens.”
“No Anders, I helped you get through your games so you know I know how this works. They’re going to sound the canon, we’re gonna storm the Cornucopia and everyone’s going to wait on tenterhooks to see what we do. We were all friends before this, everyone besides Jesse and Beca anyway. So they’re curious, it’s the final word in entertainment. Will all these friends turn against each other? The answer is yes, we will. No one good comes out of these games, no decent person makes it out. So pardon me while I find a way to die with a little dignity before I see my family again.” Aubrey pushed past Anders irately and came face to face with Stacie, their eyes met for a moment, just long enough for Aubrey to see even a glimpse of worry in the other girl’s eyes. “Make them love you, you’re good at that;” Aubrey choked out. Stacie only had a moment to blink before the blonde slipped by her, eyes shining with tears.