Fandom: the hunger games
Characters: johanna mason, finnick odair
Warnings: canon compliant, mature (tw: abuse, alcohol, drugs etc.)
Summary: love, johanna remembered her sister telling her, was weird.
written pre-catching fire for silverponies because who else would introduce me to these two.
It starts off as a foolish rendezvous, meeting on the streets of the capitol, hopscotching the shadows the nights' party leaves on the pavement. He smiles stupidly, and she wonders how something so pretty survived so long.
'Want to know a secret?' he asks her, quietly, stopping to lean against the archway to the theatre.
'Is that why you called me out here,' she mutters sullenly, 'to tell me who your latest crush is?'
Maybe she showed up because he was a victor, the youngest ever, because she was angry his mentees survived longer than hers. Or maybe she was just curious. Finnick Odairre. The Capitols glittery prize. These were her first games as a victor, an inaugural run at the psychopathy of the annual bloodbath.
He smiles broadly and she starts to count his teeth before they all disappear behind a grimace. She thinks he looks almost disappointed and she wonders if they've found a way to bottle narcissism too, here in the Capitol.
'That's a secret I'll never tell,' he says, amused.
She finds out later, much later that Finnick is a show pony.
A take a turn around the ring type animal that has been used and abused and used again and she wonders what it takes to get an invitation from the Capitol to give up your temperamental virtue.
(Not much, as it turns out. After her first run as mentor, she makes a snarky comment to Flickerman in an interview and he quips back that she's much too pretty for such an ugly mouth.
That ugly mouth is exactly what gets her an invite to Seneca Crane's bed late one night, his aspirations at game maker and her naivety, god so pathetically naive, a deadly combination.
She prepared for death, for murder, but politics?
Those first games as Victor, she thought she was as good as dead.)
The first time she meets Finnick, he's whispering to the Avox girl at the mentors meeting. He has been enhanced, clearly, not a single scar from his games remains on his chest and what little is hidden under the loin cloth, she is sure is similarly preened.
She takes an immediate distaste for the man she watched paraded around for a year on her television back at home.
'Mason,' he drawls out when she walks past.
If she'd had a drink, in that moment, feeling his eyes claw over her lime catsuit, it would've found itself in his stupidly glistening hair.
Instead she flutters her eyelashes at him and bites her lip. 'Oh F-finnick Odair? You're my, my hero,' she whispers, twirling a piece of hair around her finger.
'Go fuck yourself,' she mutters, before she stalks off.
Johanna Mason makes no friends her first games as mentor.
'You can't not care,' he tells her quietly, as they watch her tributes get slaughtered.
A knife to the neck and a lung full of sand, she doesn't know what she's supposed to do with the pit in her stomach that wasn't there when she told them not to fuck it all up and die.
'Why not? They're all going to die anyway,' she says, venomously.
Finnick glances at her and places a cold scotch into her hand. 'They've only got you.'
The insinuation that she is somehow responsible, that that sixteen year old girl, a slip of a thing with bee stings for breasts and a quick smile was dead because she didn't have the capacity to care anymore made the ice in her glass clatter.
'Go to hell, Finnick.'
Conveniently, this time she is armed.
But he finds her like that, on the side of the road, asking her if she wants to know a secret like that is supposed to be some consolation prize for being the most selfish, most self-preserving, or self-serving fuckup.
'Play the games,' he tells her simply, smiling something awful. 'And keep playing. Keep playing till you win.'
Johanna finds herself loathing herself in his presence. Every ounce of esteem inverted.
'I won.' She laughs to herself, maniacal and angry. 'I won! And now I have to stick around and watch them die? Like that's some sort of fucking victory!?'
Finnick shrugs and she wants to claw him in that instant.
She doesn't leave the Capitol. The idea of facing the parents and families of the tributes from the games runs her blood cold. Instead, she rents a room with her earnings and watches the 72nd hunger games on replay.
Once in a while, the feed cuts out and the advertisements come on. Finnick's face in interviews, in feeds. Smiling, glittering, happy.
Before she knows it, Snow has announced the 73rd games and she is summoned to the celebrations.
In the middle of the night, there is a knock at the door and she knows who it is, can see it on the security panel.
'Evening Anna,' he slurs out and her whole apartment suddenly smells like turpentine.
She remembers him only vaguely from her own games despite his infamy. She'd watched him chat her stylists up before she'd intervened and told him where he could stick his dick.
But this boy on her lounge is not someone she's ever met.
'I hold my alcohol very well,' he reminds her, after he refuses the sobering tonic.
'And I call bullshit.'
He snorts, snatching the damp cloth from her and dabbing his own head. ''s just a bit bruised.'
'No, my dick,' he replies and laughs. 'How do you think I got into this mess?'
In the morning, she makes him coffee (a luxury reserved only for those that slaughter 23 human beings, of course) and asks him pointed questions.
'Why are you such a jerk?'
'Well Johanna, you're no ball of sunshine yourself.'
She ignores that. 'You should probably go before someone sees you. It's pretty much cliche by now to be rumoured to be sleeping with you.'
Finnick bows and when he's finished being such a ostentatious prick, she asks him why he called her Annie last night.
Johanna was never very good with people but she was very good with games. Poor, underestimated Johanna Mason. They'd all thought her weak and pathetic.
But as Finnick's bravado slips, she remembers why she won the Hunger Games.
He doesn't so much as look at her, punishment for seeing through him.
It's all over so quickly that she doesn't even have time to savour the moment, the fleeting feeling of an intangible something before he's smiling and shrugging.
'How do we do it?' she asks when she's drunk enough to contemplate some sort of tactical alliance.
'You do what you can to keep them alive.'
Johanna winces again because the tributes, her tributes were not what she was thinking of.
'Is that what this is about?' she whispers, gesturing to the invitation.
'Seneca wants you to sleep with him so that he can get on the organising committee next year.'
'And it looks good?'
'Come on Johanna, you're a Victor, stop thinking like a Tribute.'
'Is that what it is?' she yells, spitefully. 'Whoring yourself out, that's victory?'
He just sighs at her. 'You're so painfully young sometimes.'
Johanna backhands him so hard, she feels the whiplash he experiences.
'Don't. Don't do that. If I'm going to sleep with him, what do I get out of it?'
She sees the shape of her palm imprinted on his cheek as he smiles.
'The Capitol,' he says, wincing slightly, 'trades in a different commodity to the districts.'
She thinks back to the cold night on the steps of the theatre and his blue eyes grinning at her like she was on the brink of understanding something so much bigger than herself.
Her breath catches in her throat and she gulps down inhibitions. 'Secrets.'
Seneca, as it turns out, is not so much into sex. For him, it was the public presentation of Johanna.
The Crane that tamed the Tiger.
It is such a terrible headline that Finnick frames it for her and they spill gin all over it and commiserate.
Johanna laughs though. 'It's such a boring relationship, I think I might even want him to try fuck me just for the change of pace.'
Finnick's eyebrows knit together and she remembers that he's been doing this for six years, that the Capitol is his game. Some sort of fucked up prize he's going to conquer.
'You're not his type.'
Johanna pouts. 'Him too?'
Finnick grins over his glass.
'Not the worst. He likes to pull hair.'
She sometimes likes to ruin her own mood, turn on the television and watch the Capitol's newscasts. The victory tours are her favourite kind of torture and as her own face flashes across the screen, she wonders how she will do this for the rest of her life.
The feast for the tributes is almost carnivorous. The games, this year at least, will be over very, very quickly if the career tributes' skills are anything to go by.
The entire evening goes by with a knot in her stomach, as she steers clear of her own tributes lest they think to expect too much from her. By the time Snow makes his remarks about the excitement to come, she is standing outside throwing up the contents of her stomach.
They are both drunk, sitting outside a small grocery store eating fries and drinking gin when Finnick asks her if she wishes she were dead.
'Never,' she answers easily. 'You?'
Finnick nods. 'Wouldn't that be easier than this?'
Johanna licks her fingers and rolls her eyes. 'Then they win. I thought we were playing to win.'
(And they do, yes, a lot of the time, between deaths and memories, he'll find her and she'll ask him if she's a pit stop to another client and he'll shut her up a lot of the time, but sometimes, when she arrives on his doorstop drunk and angry, he'll do it with his mouth on her cunt and he'll do it with something she likes to think is kindness.)
As they watch the 73rd victory tour, the pit in her stomach returns and she feels the same feeling of dread as the games roll around again.
He takes her hand in his, curls his fingers around her wrist and squeezes on the pressure point. It takes him a long time to let go, somewhere between the footage of four and five. By that time though, she has found out the quickest way to make him come.
(Her teeth, he tells her later, are not even close to sharp enough.)
It is the first time he attempts to fuck her that she takes offense to all his latent bullshit.
His hands pawing at her breasts, it is all so routine and appropriate that she digs her nails into his neck and drags.
'Is that the way Annie liked it?'
It is easier this year, a little bit, probably. Finnick drinks with her and sometimes if he's not too busy being a jerk and a whore and the most ruinous addiction she has in her life, he'll spar with her.
They have a game, of course, unhealthy addictions always contain a gamble. Theirs is a composition of pride and humiliation.
'If I win, you have to stay. For the whole night.'
If he thought she'd let him win, he would've bruised her a whole lot worse than he did, but she still goes home the next morning with purplish bruises and an unsatiated hunger for something she wants because she can't have.
'Maybe this is really healthy,' he whispers to her, one night, smoking some new Capitol hallucinogen.
He talks sometimes like they're in a functional relationship of the sort that they sleep with each other as a way to get back at the world for ruining them.
'We're excellent friends,' Johanna says, aiming to hurt. 'The best.'
'Friends,' Finnick replies with a terse laugh. 'Fuck, Johanna. I don't think that's-'
She grimaces but he's already pulling her into some sort of ridiculous kiss that tastes like fury.
He grabs her, tugging her into his lap and pulling her hair so her back arches, her chin lifted in defiance.
'This,' he mutters, biting the flesh above her collar bone. 'This is how I love you.'
Rarely will she think back to that night. If and when she does, she will barely remember that he had told her he loved her.
When she truly wants to hurt herself, she simply opens her eyes.
There is only time she will admit to caring for Finnick Odair.
It was the only and only time he'd made it a competition.
The night Katniss Everdeen defied the Capitol, they got completely plastered and ended up in his apartment toasting to some sort of demented version of hope.
She'd pawed pathetically at him until he gave in, digging his cold fingers into her pants.
'Say my name,' he whispered to the bones at her navel. 'God, say my name when you come and say it like you love me.'
But Johanna Mason knew only one god and it was no man.
'Annie Cresta,' she'd breathed out in climax and then cried when he left.
She only thing she remembers of home that doesn't make her want to throw up is a conversation she had with her sister.
They had sat at the base of a tree watching two rabbits mate before her sister asked what they were doing.
The Johanna of 12 had not yet had the sentimentality leaked from her. 'They're making love.'
'Love,' her sister had told her, 'is weird.'
Weeks later, when they'd spoken to Haymitch, both disorientated and angry and disgusted and hopeful, he'd found her at the steps of the theatre.
'Have you ever even watched a show?'
'They're all fucking propaganda.'
He'd dug his hands into his pockets and after a long pause, outstretched his palm.
'A peace offering?' she'd asked, angrily. 'I think we're past that.'
She missed the look of anger on his face, staring at the announcements board.
'Johanna, this is what I have.'
'So you win?'
Finnick scoffed. 'We haven't been playing a game, Joh-'
'Oh no? Well why does it feel like I've lost?'
They walk home together and Johanna makes him come inside, pours two glasses of scotch and apologises the only way she knows how.
'There's not much of me to give either. So I suppose we're equal.'
Finnick doesn't reply with any sort of pity and she thinks that maybe that is love.
He only calls her Annie sometimes, or Anna like its an endearment he made up and not like she's some sort of pathetic suffix to his actual love, usually in his sleep before he digs his fingers into her ribcage like she'll disappear from him. Usually, the dull pain of his nails in her bones is enough to keep her from going numb.
She thinks she can deal with that and hold most of his secrets around her heart where his love should be. A lot of the time, she slips out of his grip and replays the games again.
Tonight though, she is tired and Finnick is asleep and they will soon die, and she is starved for some sort of masochism and so her mind conjures up a name.
A quick smile, bee-stings for breasts and appendages full of sand as she drowns on Johanna's failures.
Johanna thinks of this girl, the girl on fire, that she has to save. But at least this time she has Finnick. So when, the night before the games, his lips press into her hair, she doesn't shake him off. She curls into him, whispers into his throat that for the first time in a long time she feels something.
(The 72nd hunger games' female tribute from district seven went down quickly, never learnt to swim while she was climbing trees at home, not that it would've helped with her gasping in a pit of quicksand. And her mother sent flowers to Johanna every year on the anniversary of her death and Johanna wonders what she could've done, should've done, to save her sister's life and what it will cost to save Katniss'.)