Chapter Thirteen: A Raven's Heart
Word Count: 2000
Sitting on the over padded sofa with his head resting onto his arm Silas enjoyed the warm buzz that surrounded his brain from the evening of little drinks. This fine malt whiskey and vintage wines these Capitol folks drank was not nearly as strong as the moonshine Crow and Thunder used to create in the bowls of District Thirteen, but it sure as hell tasted a lot better. Come on focus! He ordered to himself. Sitting upright with his eyes opened Silas waited patiently for Roxanne to finish listening to whoever was currently speaking into her ear. Eying the camera that forever hovered over her shoulder Silas knew these pictures were being broadcast live over every District in Pangaea...even at home. I need to look good to make Eliza proud. But as the minutes passed with Roxanne still talking to the tiny device in her ear his mind drifted, as it had done all evening, to Rory...that girl. Why the hell couldn't he get her out of his head? She was just an ordinary woman, beautiful sure...with nice eyes, and smile...and laugh, and hair.
Unconsciously a smile spread across his face remembering their brief encounter at the bar. The way her dress had clung to her body with its open back showing off large sections of her flawless alabaster skin... 'Now what are you smiling at Silas?' Roxanne asked with a playful grin. Pulling himself from his thoughts Silas realised the camera was rolling.
'I'm sorry, just happy to be here with you once more.' he smiled hoping to cover up his lapse of concentration. Focus!
'You definitely are the quite the charmer aren't you?'
'And I can tell you by the reaction of our female audience you succeed. Now you are from District Thirteen we all know that, but what we wish to now is who exactly your partner is. A Miss...Cynthia Bowden.'
'Who?' No answer came to him, then it clicked. 'Oh Fox.'
'Yes the lady with the tattoos. She has refused to be interviewed on camera and was not seen a great deal during the Ball, she's almost a mysterious figure as you are.'
'Fox isn't here for fame and glory. All she wants to do is get into the arena and win so she can get out of District Thirteen. She doesn't care about anything else.' Silas smiled trying to paint Fox in a gentler light than what she really was.
'She sounds like quite the crusader. Are you friendly?'
'No. But not through lack of trying I assure you,'
'Really? I find it hard to believe anyone could resist your charms.'
'Even you Miss Richie?' Silas smiled staring into the reporters sparkling eyes. Colour flushed her cheeks briefly before she laughed it off and moved on.
'Now it has been revealed tonight that the Participants from District Three are teaming up together, how do you feel about this?'
Silas shrugged. 'It's always good to have someone watch your back, but at the end of the day we're all enemies in there and I'd rather have my enemies in my sights than behind me.' he mentally thanked Titan for those wise words.
'Very well put, you are turning out to be quite the enigma Mr Alberec. But the question we are all wanting to ask, was that little moment at the bar the starting of something special? Or just a noble gentleman coming to the rescue of a damsel in distress?'
Rory. Silas's heart stopped. They saw that! Oh...Sh*t! Suppressing the urge to shift his weight Silas tried to push through the muddled mess of his drunken brain to try and form a cohesive sentence that wouldn't make him sound like a thunder struck fool. 'No woman likes being hit on by drunken idiots. I was simply helping her out.'
'Are you sure?' Roxanne asked leaning forward slightly, her camera lens zooming in more onto his face. 'You seemed to be turning on the charm a great deal.'
There was only one way out of this, leaning forward Silas stared deep into Roxanne's eyes and stopped a few inches away from her face, smiling all the while. 'It's an automatic reaction sometimes.' Roxanne held his gaze, a coy knowing smile stretching across her painted lips.
'Then,' she continued sitting back into her chair. 'You must have felt alright with her dancing with her partner.' A iron clad fist gripped his heart. Stopping its unceasing beat and making a strange beast rise up in his chest.
'It appeared you had gone out to get some air when this happened,' clicking her fingers a small holo-projector appeared from the top of the camera, creating a small holo-screen showing Rory laughing and dancing with an umber haired man who stared deep into her azure eyes. The beast made of anger and jealousy roared in his chest. A deep bellow that shook Silas to his core and made him want to punch something. Dropping his face to a neutral mask Silas tried in desperation to keep the pain from his face, whether he succeeded or not he'd never know. Unable to watch anymore he sat back into the cushions of the sofa and smiled at Roxanne.
'It was a free party. I was under the impression we could dance with whoever we wanted.' trying to hide his feelings behind his charm obviously didn't work; he could see it in Roxanne's eyes. That predatory look reporters got when they felt they had tenterhooks onto a juicy story.
'Thank you for your time Silas, this is the last time we'll meet until you enter the arena. I hope you training goes well, good luck.'
He'd run the obstacle course. Cut himself on razor wire trying to do so. He'd climbed the wall and back down with no safety ropes. He'd fired arrows at their targets for hours. Thrown spears further than his previous records. Wrestled invisible enemies and punched the knock out dummies until he was able to knock them out with a single strike. Punching their plastic bodies until his knuckles bled. He now stood before the punch bag with two combat sticks in his hands, battering the punch bag that hung from the ceiling with merciless blows. Every strike on its surface recorded by the interior sensors. Registering force, speed and pound per square inch power. Medium blows flashed green. Injury causing blows flashed yellow and deadly blows flashed red. The last fifty attacks had all been red. He was getting faster too. The force increasing with every blow and STILL he was angry! The beast ripping apart the inside of his chest as if clawing to get out and kill something. Striking the bag with a dozen bone crushing strikes that would have left any man stone dead Silas roared in anger. Kicking out the chains that held the bag to the ceiling lost magnetism and the bag was sent flying ten feet across the floor.
Dropping the inch thick combat sticks Silas took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair. Ripping out the beads the stylist had insisted on putting in and throwing them across the room to smash against the wall in a shower of fractured plastic. Panting with bleeding knuckles, wide eyes and aching arms Silas tried to understand why he felt this way. They had talked for five minutes at the most. No more. Just five minutes. She could dance with whoever she wanted...so why didn't she dance with him? Her face flashed in his head. Those sapphire eyes and her easy girlish smile. Hauling up the bag with a grunt he threw it up into the air. The magnetic chains locking against the ceiling with a deep thud. Only just realising the door to their living room was open Silas heard Roxanne Richie talking. 'So with two volunteers who are now pairing up, four career gamers, one attempted suicide this year’s Hunger Games Gala was one to remember. Many things happened, too many to show in tonight’s episode, but what we will be discussing is this trio. Silas Alberec, Ruari Savage and Aeon Neil.
'Rory and Aeon obviously had a moment on the dance floor this evening but was it just a friendly dance or something more? And does this man Silas Alberec, the mysterious dreadlocked gentleman from District Thirteen, have eyes for our bell of the ball as well? And if so, does she feel the same?' Beating the bag harder and harder with every word Silas felt the beast within him roar. 'We will also be discussing this moment when Tyberos Senior and Junior left the ball for some unknown reason, was it a secret strategy meeting? A calm word between father and son? Or something else? Find out after these words from our sponsors...'
'Can you turn that off Fox!' Silas roared as sweat rolled down his face and onto his bare chest. The light from the room died and the noise stopped. 'Thank you!' he said harshly turning back to the punch bag.
'You'll hit harder and faster if you hold the sticks lower down.' said a decrepit voice. Turning Silas saw an elderly hunched back man in a custodial uniform holding a mop and bucket in a liver spotted hand, a belt cinched around his fragile waist with dozens of strange tools hanging from it.
'I'm sorry who are you?' Silas asked incredulously.
'Names Ratchet. I'm this places janitor.' smiled the old man. His wrinkled face creasing as he smiled from beneath the beak of his cap.
'Good for you.' Silas said not bothering to give the old man anymore of his time.
'You must really care for her.' the Janitor crooned.
'You've been beating that bag for twenty minutes. Only one reason for that,'
'Oh so you're a psychologist as well as a combat expert now.'
'Have to be a lot of things round here.' Smiled the old timer. His speckled green eyes turning to the door to the living room, examining a rusted hinge. 'Great thing about being a janitor is you’re like Jabberjays, only twice as inconspicuous. We hear everything and nobody ever notices us.'
'I'm sure.' Silas said cruelly. He didn't deserve to be insulted like this, but Silas was angry, and it felt good to vent it against someone.
'I'm telling you, hold the sticks lower you'll be harder and faster.' the old man crooned again pulling a screwdriver from his belt and tightening the screws in the doorframe.
'Look Spanner or Wrench or whatever the hell your name was! I was trained by a man who had to fight everyday of his life to survive, I think he knows a damn side more about combat techniques than some good for nothing janitor!' Striding towards the hunched old man with a stick pointing towards his face Silas expected the man to baulk, but he didn't. He just continued chewing on his gum. Looking up at Silas from beneath his cap.
'Tell her how you feel...yes...that’s exactly what you should do.' the Janitor smiled flipping the screwdriver around in his hand. 'The heart knows what the heart wants, try to deny it and the feeling will just grow stronger.'
Unable to come up with a witty response to that Silas just looked down at him, 'Who the hell are you?'
'The Janitor.' he smiled easily before picking up his mop and bucket and walking off into the darkness. A soft melody whistling between his lips. Crazy old fool. Silas thought moving back to the punch bag. He can't be right...Holding the stick in his right hand lower down Silas hit the bag with all his force. It flashed red, the numbers for speed and power almost doubling. Shocked Silas looked back for the Janitor, the whistling notes drifted from the darkness before a door screeched open and shut with a clang. Ceasing the music.