Chapter Twenty-Five: Whispers, Promises, Loves, Old Men and Numbers
Word Count: 2906
Watching her perfectly formed ass disappear out his window wearing an old pair of his jeans was simultaneously one of the most bizarre and erotic moments of his life. He wasn't really sure why he found it erotic...It's been a long night. He said to himself as he fell back onto his bed, a smile crawling across his face and bouts of true laughter thundering up from somewhere deep within him. He was no virgin. But that...what had just happened...it was beyond anything he'd ever experienced. Looking at the torn remnants of his shirt told him that much, it was barely even recognisable as an item of clothing anymore; it was just white silk tatters. So many dozens of ribbons sewn together at the corners. Standing he turned and examined his back. Gods! he blasphemed. I look like I've been mauled by a tiger! staring at the blooded scratch marks a thought passed between his ears...This must be what men feel like...smugness seeping across his face Silas sifted through the discarded remains of his sheets, looking for the health shard. He soon found and stabbed the blue crystal into his back. A searing warmth and then a burning cold fired across his back.
All in a split second. The scratches just seemed to bleed away after that. The redness fading and leaving not even a hint of any previous damage. Impressed Silas tossed the empty shard into the corner before trying to sort through the bombsite of his room. Gods we made a mess...well..she made a mess. Better not tell her that though. He smiled thinking of her reaction if he'd said to her that all this was her mess. Replacing his sheets onto his bed Silas sat cross legged on the floor, fixing the springs in the mattress and also the loose leg. They didn't cause that but it'd been bugging him for weeks! Sparking his fire the orange flames danced around the artificial coals, he tossed his ruined shirt into the fire as well as the splintered remains of his chair. Looking around the floor he spotted the rust and turquoise remains of her dress she'd left behind, torn as bad as his shirt, if not more so, it was a tattered ruin. Pulling the remains over the floor towards him he let the fabric run through his fingers, he could still smell her perfume on it. Not the soft and floral kind all the other women wore, but a more hot and spicy aroma, it matched her personality. Unable to just throw it away Silas placed it beneath his bed...then had an idea.
Two weeks passed quickly. Nothing but a blurr of constant training. However deadly Silas had been before, was nothing compared to himself now. He had mastered every weapon. Learnt to fashion his own from sticks and rocks. He could hit a target the size of a fly with a spear from thirty paces, from fifty with an arrow and from even greater distances with throwing knifes, which was quickly becoming his favoured long ranged weapon. He'd put on nearly four stone of pure muscle, any gauntness his face once had was lost, replaced with a face he barely recognised anymore. And once again he stood in Vigil's mirrored room for a fitting. Vigil was as happy as ever even though he had to take Silas's measurements all over again due to his extreme bulking out. 'My my Silas. What a man you've become.' the Stylist smiled.
'Thanks Vigil,' he said feeling slightly awkward as the middle aged man measured his inside leg. 'What are you thinking this time?' As his little sewing minions sketched down hurried designs onto pieces of paper Vigil stepped back, rubbing his chin with a finger and thumb.
'The Lottery is your last televised appearance before entrance into the arena. We have to make a statement that says 'Sponsor me...I'm Silas Alberec!''
Silas laughed. 'How about that written across my back?'
'A bit too ostentatious don't you think?' smiled the Stylist. 'No...we need something different.' with a squeel of excitement one of the female stylist jumped up and handed Vigil her drawing. 'Oh...oh yes...yes...this is the one.'
'Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls watching from around Pangaea, tonight is the fateful night when the competitors of the forty seventh Hunger Games competition will discover, which parts of the arena they will appear in when the Games officially begin. Exactly seven days from the stroke of midnight tonight. It is also the last chance any of them will have to vie for sponsors so everyone must be on the top of their game tonight in order to impress.' said Roxanne Richie into her camera as Silas approached from behind her.
'Am I not always on the top of my game Roxanne?' he whispered making her turn. The shock on her face was replaced with a pleasant surprise as she scanned him up and down.
'Well hello handsome. Don't you scrub up nicely.' she grinned. Silas smiled back and stood across from her with his hands behind his back.
'How are you feeling tonight Silas?'
'Surprisingly good thank you Roxanne. After so many months of training you just want to get in there and get going really.' he said casually.
'You’re not scared at all?'
'Of course I'm scared. But if I let it show I'd be scared all the time and not be able to do anything. It's natural to feel fear. What's not natural is to let it control you.'
'Again very well said.' Roxanne nodded. 'Silas you started off as one of the Dark Horses in this competition and now, your one of the crowd favourites.' beyond the darkness outside a vast scream shot up through the night of cheering fans. 'Is there anything you want to say to them or anyone else before you step in there tonight?'
'Of course,' he said turning to the camera. 'Erm...the only thing I can really say is thank you. I appreciate your support more than I can possibly say and just thanks. Oh and Eliza. I know you're watching this, I...' tears breaking his lids Silas laughed. 'I'm doing this for you baby girl. You’re my little sister, I'd do anything for you. SySy loves you and I've sent you a letter which I hope you'll get when I enter the Arena. I love you Eliza.' nodding to an emotional looking Roxanne Silas was about to walk in when he stopped. 'Oh how rude. I'd like to thank you as well Roxanne, you have been incredibly kind and I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated it. Thank you.'
Placing a hand on her heart her bottom lip quivered slightly and she suddenly flung her arm around Silas. Hugging her back he felt her mike hand lower. 'I'm rooting for you Silas.' breaking away she whipped the tears from her eyes and returned her plastered smile across her face.
'Ladies and Gentlemen, Silas Alberec of District Thirteen.' the announcer called across the crowded ballroom as Silas entered. Standing atop a small dais every camera in the room focussed on him and another cheer shot up in the darkness as the cameras displayed what he was wearing. His tailor made tuxedo fit him like a glove. The white shirt complete with platinum cufflinks and black bow tie, the jacket was a plain black with medium width lapels and sleeves short enough to show just a hint of cuff. As much of a boost to his ego the crowds reactions was it was not the one he cared most about, descending the stairs onto the floor he took a champagne flute from a passing waitor and navigated himself through the circular tables that had been arranged around a fine stage. The lottery machines sitting there with a circle of guards around them to assure of no tampering. Where are you...he smiled scanning the crowd. He found her. The same place as where they'd first spoken. Sitting cross legged on one of the stools. Her long elegant frame encased in a dress of varying shades of silver. The strapless gown held up by nothing but her frame and the sureness of its tailoring.
The lower half was simple silver silk. Cutting off just above her ankles were a set of fine silver high heels covered her feet, the upper half was overlaid folds of a deeper, almost platinum colour, that contained her breasts flatteringly, with a turquoise bow around her delicate waist. Her hair was natural. It looked best that way in Silas's eyes. Just drawn back into a long curly ponytail that rippled down her back and bounced as she moved. She was talking to a small woman who sat across from her who he presumed was her stylist. He just stared at Rory for several seconds. Lost in the beauty of her profile. The bump where her nose had been broken had vanished, half of her upper eyelids were painted with glittering silver that seemed only to enhance the colour of her eyes and only the faintest amount of blush kissed her cheeks. She looked heavenly.
'Enjoying the view Scarecrow?' the familiar bark asked as Aeon rounded on him, blocking his view of her. Aeon wore a similar styled suit to Silas. Although not half as well made, or half as good as he did.
'I'm sorry...who are...oh that’s right! Fancy a whiskey?' Silas grinned up at him.
'I know what happened between you two,' he hissed. 'I don't like it.'
'I did. So did she. I wasn't aware you were taking part though...must have skipped my mind.' Silas smiled at Aeon. A smile that Aeon had once shot at him all those weeks ago. How things had changed. 'Anyway. Must be off. If you keep standing here I think Fox might be here soon.' he winked. 'Maybe you'll have better luck with her.' slapping Aeon on the shoulder as he passed him Silas made his way to Rory. Standing behind her. Her stylist noticed him, blushed a horrible red with a cheeky smile across her face before making some excuse to Rory and striding away through the crowd. 'Hey Sexy.' lowering her drink Rory spun her stool around and faced him. Her full beauty on display to him. Her expression was the only conformation he needed that he looked as good as he thought he did.
'Silas...wow...' she gasped. Cerulean eyes drinking him in. Her hand made to reach for his but a camera hovered over their heads making her back away. 'You look...' she shook her head. Smile growing across her face.
'So do you. And that dress certainly looks better than the last one.' eyes sparkling Rory absorbed the cryptic statement, her glance shifting to the camera over their heads that was scanning the crowd. But they both knew they were being recorded.
'You didn't like the way I wore it?' she said taking a sip from her champagne.
'Sure. Let’s go with that. And the tailoring...not nearly, up to scratch.' he winked with his left eye. Out of line of the cameras.
'Well I hope this one proves better equipped for the situation.' Winking one azure eye she lowered her glass and licked a small drop of champagne from her lower lip. Blood rushing away from his brain Silas lost the ability to keep the conversation going, but he needn't have waited long as the camera hovered away from them.
'When can I see you again?' he whispered making sure the bar staff were out of earshot.
'Silas...' she grinned.
'Your place this time. Or on Aeon's bed...your choice.'
'Silas!' she giggled into her hand. 'We can't it was dangerous enough the first time.'
'When can I see you? When can I see you? When can I see you? When can I see you?' he chanted softly. When she looked at him to answer Silas twisted his head to the side. Showing her the tattered scrap of her old dress he had torn up and tied around one of his locks. Her eyes hung on the rust coloured scrap of cloth with her smile growing.
'One:am. The roof.' she whispered.
'Tonight.' she said with a wicked glint behind her azure eyes as she got up and left him at the bar. Enhancing her walk to create a little bounce, knowing full well he was watching her leave. Waiting for several minutes until he was confident enough blood had re-entered his legs to walk properly Silas scanned the bar and found the Janitor, Hatchet, fixing a beer pump.
'Hey old timer.' Silas said leaning over the section of the closed bar top. Peering up from behind his cap Hatchet smiled a toothy grin.
'You tell her yet?' he asked quickly.
'I will.' he smiled. 'How did you know, about the combat sticks I mean?'
'I told you. We Janitors hear everything without anyone even recognising us as being there. You learn a thing or two.' tapping the pipe he'd just fixed Hatchet spun his tool in his hand and rose. 'All sorted.'
'Oh thanks Odin.' said one of the bar staff. Odin...Odin...where had he heard that...
'Oh my god...you're Odin Stronghammer!' Silas whispered.
'Am I really? I thought I was called Hatchet...'
'No...I recognise you now! Titan told me about you! You trained Titan! You're the winner of the first Hunger Games!' as Odin picked up his tool box Silas followed him around the bar. 'You're the only winner District Thirteen’s ever had! You lead the Genix Revolution...' about to disappear down a service door Silas rushed over to the elderly man. 'You...you inspired my parents...'
'That was many years ago my boy.' the old man said with a sad smile. 'Times change.' placing one foot in the door Odin said, 'Tell her. Tonight!'
'We hear everything!' he sung, descending the first steps. 'I'll leave a service staircase open for the two of you.' then as he was swallowed by the darkness all Silas heard after that was the gentle tune of his whistling.
Sitting on one of the smaller round tables beside a Government official and two reporters Silas was lost in answering their questions. Rory sat across from him, an ever smiling creature of pure beauty. 'Yes I mean training's of course hard it's mean to...' a foot crawled up his calf. 'Erm...yes its there to toughen you up and...Whoa!' he said nearly shooting from his chair as it slid gently up to his knee and inwards along his thigh. Sitting back into his chair he risked a look down and saw the heel of a silver shoe glinting below the table cloth. Looking up Rory sat in her chair. Eyes laughing as he bit the end of her thumbnail, smile growing with the wickedness behind her stare. 'Its...ermm...I'm sorry what was the question?' he asked as Rory stroked his thigh gently. The reporters shot each other confused glances at his odd reaction.
'Ladies and Gentlemen!' The Master of Ceremonies announced. Taking the distraction Silas reached under the table and grabbed her ankle, pulling her playfully making a sharp laugh escape from her lips. 'It is now time for the Lottery that will decide where each Competitor will begin.' at a click of his fingers two remotely attractive girls compared to Rory stepped onto the stage and turned on the machines. The balls within the plastic drums bouncing around as the drums spun. 'This Arena is the largest ever seen, with sectors that will test the endurance, skill, ingenuity and guile of our competitors. The white machine contains names, the black contains sectors of the Arena...let the draw...begin.' the first two balls dropped from the machines. Picking up the name ball the model cracked it open before reading,
'Aeon Neil.' Silas saw Rory's eyes dart around the room for her old partner.
'Desert Sector.' the second read out. There was a quick round of polite applause. Where is he?
On the fourth round of balls the women read out. 'Tyberos Guilliman the Second,' causing a small eruption of cheering in the distance. 'Forest Sector.'
The sixth round. 'Rauri Savage,' shooting her a glance Silas felt as if his heart was frozen in his chest. 'Lake and Mountain Sector.' Thank the Gods! He said. Even Rory had too smile, nodding to him almost imperceptibly.
Eleventh round. 'Cynthia Bowden. Rain Forest Sector.'
Then round after round after round went by until there was only two balls remaining. 'That leaves Silas Alberec,' a cheer echoed in the darkness. 'And the Urban Sector.' Urban? Silas had been hoping his skills at tracking and hunting would keep him alive, but starting in the Urban sector...'So there we have it Ladies and Gentlemen, here is where the competitors will be starting.' A vast map was projected above the Master of Ceremonies head, the arena did look colossal! And Rory and Silas were separated by the entire length of the arena...on opposite ends. And at the stroke of midnight fireworks from the building’s roof erupted in the night sky, the massive holographic clock in the centre of Capitol counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the games start. The fireworks heralding the doom of twenty-five people.