The Capitol's Secret (Sequel to The Current, a Hunger Games Fanfic)
After being "saved' from an untimely death by the Capitol, Ren has no choice but to live a quiet life, while Mano--Victor of the Seventy-third Hunger Games--knows that any mistake from his side will send the only person he's capable of loving into death.
But how will they balance themselves in a world of secrets, where people can disappear without a trace?
Ren bit her lip--for the twelfth time--and stared at the only clock in the room. He was't going to show up. Again. She'd have checked the date, but they usually had no agreements whatsoever on when he would show up...it all depended on the Capitol's wishes. Besides that, she had no way of truly knowing what day it was.
She was just about to give up and go to bed when the door opened slowly, and Mano stepped in, his face full of reluctance and exhaustion. "Heya, Ren."
The girl took in his unwilling expression and sighed, her heart sinking. She knew that look. "Hi."
He walked in slowly, sitting down next to her on the soft couch with some hesitation. All the girl could concentrate on was how it sagged under his weight, the creak of its paws as if the piece of furniture was suffering. "Are they treating you well?"
Ren nodded, pulling her knees to her chin and avoiding his eyes. She knew what they'd be like. Accusing, bored, tired. "As always."
Mano glanced at his expensive watch, probably given to him by the Capitol...or someone else. "I don't have long. The Victory Tour starts tomorrow."
She nodded but still refused to meet his gaze, an overwhelming feeling of disappointment and anger coming over her. She counted the tiles on the floor, but stopped as her eyes met a carpet, as purely white as the snow'd been in the Arena, before being smeared with blood as red as some of the corals she'd seen.
Mano leant in abruptly and tried to kiss her, but the girl pushed him away roughly, something finally snapping in her. He sat back indignantly, running a hand through his carefully styled hair. "What was that for?"
"For being late every single day!" she burst out, scrambling off of the couch and straightening up, making sure to keep her shoulders broad, which wasn't entirely easy. "First you came twice a week, at the least! Now you barely show up, and when you do, you arrive just when I'm about to go to bed! What am I supposed to think? Huh? Tell me that!"
The boy stood up as well with a sudden, furious movement, his feet connecting with the floor and causing a loud thump while he directed an angry glower at her. "I've been busy!"
"With what?! Since when do we keep secrets from each other, Mano? What are they making you do that can possibly be important?!"
"Ever since you started with your stupid crush on me!" he yelled back, provoked at her second question, his face turning crimson now, a vein pulsing in his forehead. He grabbed a lamp and hurled it against the wooden wall, watching it fall to the ground with a loud, echoeing thump...still whole, of course. They'd made sure to secure the room from any possible suicide she could commit.
Ren fought her tears, taking deep, shaky breaths. "Stupid crush? It was my stupid crush that saved your worthless hide! And don't even start about how you saved mine, because it was pure luck and you know it! Did you ever even love me?! Or is it all an act, because you'd feel guilty--or even worse, that'd you'd owe me--if they killed me?"
"Of course I loved you!" he snapped, his chest heaving with effort to control himself. His jaw was clenched and sweat appeared on his forehead, his breath as loud as Ren's.
"Then who are you spending time with? Is she pretty?" Ren blurted out, her eyes filling up, betrayal and hurt in them. She stepped forward and shoved him in the chest, ignoring his angry face. "I-is s-she?"
The girl couldn't handle it anymore and burst into tears, sagging to the ground in front of his feet. Mano struggled with himself for a moment, finally relenting and sitting down next to her slowly, first tracing the cold tiles with his tanned hand and then putting it on her trembling shoulder.
She looked, her eyes puffy already and the tip of her nose a bright red. "What are they making you do that can be so important to them?" she croaked, wiping at her wet face.
His face slowly changed into the cold mask again, his posture stiff and absent. "I don't want to talk about it."
Ren put her arms around him, desperate for comfort from her only companion. "I'm sorry. I was just...I thought..."
She struggled for words, a heavy blush coming over her cheekbones, and she cast her eyes at the ground. "I thought that there was a girl...I know I'm not pretty, so I figured that now that you're a Victor you might like someone else, someone better, prettier, smarter..."
Mano seemed to soften and he took her face in his large hands, still rough, despite the Capitol's treatment. "To me you're good enough. What would I want with a good-for-nothing, stuck-up Capitol girl?"
She gave a shaky, relieved laugh, and he pulled her closer, rubbing her back, keeping silent as she spoke up again, "I wasn't thinking about someone from the Capitol...a Victress, rather," she said wryly, afraid he'd get angry again.
He kissed the tip of her red nose. "I'll get them to place a mirror in the bathroom, so you can see how pretty you look. Besides, technically, you are a Victress."
"I dont think they'll agree," said Ren, smiling bitterly at his words and glancing at the harmless furniture, all designed to keep her alive and imprisoned. Not that she'd try to escape, she wasn't that stupid. The Peacekeepers would find her within minutes and she couldn't bear to think of the consequences that would follow. "They don't like risks."
"The Capitol will find something unbreakable," said Mano with a shrug, glancing at his watch again. "I have to go."
Ren heaved a deep sigh once again as he helped her up and slowly seperated their intertwined limbs. "I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you too. I love you, Ren. Take good care, all right?"
She gave him a small, upset nod, and he tapped her chin, forcing her to look up. "Cheer up, beautiful. I'll be back before you know it."
"Promise?" she asked, her face becoming hopeful, a feverish light appearing in her eyes.
He leant down and kissed her for a moment, his lips warm as he put his hand on the nape of her neck, his other hand stroking her ribs softly. Ren had difficulty concentrating, mixed feelings rushing in her heated heart, one side rejoicing over the feeling of his mouth against hers, the other side questioning his motives. Mano pulled away slowly, resting his forehead against hers and rubbing her lips with his thumb, an ancient gesture that he'd probably learnt from his father. "I promise, Ren."
He gave her a last pat on one of her rosy cheeks, couldn't resist another brief, rough kiss and then left, the metal door clanging shut behind him, as a cold goodbye, as if wanting to contradict his words and actions.
He was gone again.