03 on the tribute train & 04 arrival to the capitol

++ Vienna Teng - No Gringo ++

Since District Two was near to the Capitol, Nia knew that the travel on the Tribute train won't be long. Just as soon they started moving she ran to the nearest window and watched how everything which was precious to her slowly disappearing. 
"Come." Their representative - Cassius - called her and Hunter. "I show your chambers."
Hunter nodded and smiled a little. Nia followed them in silence and couldn't force her tears back anymore. When Cassius discovered she is weeping, he cleared his throat. “I hope you will love it." He added awkwardly. Suddenly he stopped and pointed on a big door. "This is yours, Hunter." 
The boy went in without a word and slammed the door. Nia grimaced trough her tears. She had her opinion about people who couldn't even thank something. But why would Hunter or she want to thank anything to the Capitol?
"And this is yours." There was an another door in front of Hunter's.
"Thanks." Nia murmured.
It looked like Cassius wanted to say something, but finally he just nodded and left. Nia sighed and entered her chambers. It was big and comfortable, with soft, nude colors. It had a private bathroom, a bedroom and a dressing area. The girl sighed, sat down to her bed and hid her face into her palms and slowly cried herself into sleep. In her dream she was at home, on the top of a mountain. She watched the clear, open sky and felt the cool wind on her face. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It was freedom.

***

"Nia, wake up, we're nearly there!"
"Hm?" The girl lifted her head. Her throat was dry and her eyes were burning from crying. "What?" 
"I said, we are nearly there." Cassius repeated.
"How much did I sleep?"
"Two or three hours. Took a bath. You look awful."
"I take this as a compliment from somebody who can't even decide it's own gender." Nia wanted to hurt him with her words, but as it seemed, they had no effect. She got the order again and Cassius tossed a towel to her head friendly.
"Hurry, hurry, my little bird." Nia stood up from the bed and Cassius sat down into her place immediately. "What were you dreaming about?"
The question was unexpected. Nia blinked and shrugged. "Nothing."
"You were smiling, but crying in the same time. Why?"
"Mind your own business!" The girl snarled at him and walked into the bathroom. Her dream was still in her head and made her shivering. She wanted to go home, ran away from this insanity, ran away from everything. Slowly, the hot water calmed her nerves and after she felt somehow refreshed. She walked back to her room only with a towel wrapped around her body because she hoped that Cassius won't be there. She was right, only a pair of black leggings, a white tank top, a big, soft, grey pullover and pair of simple black shoes were waiting for her on the bed. And of course, her hair barrett was on the top of the pile. After she got dressed, she went to the dining room. When Hunter and Cross saw her, they finished their conversation immediately and stared at her. Nia smiled at them shyly.
“Hi.”
Cross nodded, but Hunter just turned away his head. Cassius jumped up from his seat and waved for her.
“Come, eat something.”
“Thanks.” 
The table was full of delicious looking food but when Nia chose a big, roasted beef to herself, Cross shook his head.
“You can’t eat that.” He took Nia’s plate, and gave her some chicken and a big amount of salad instead. “Don’t forget, you are a chosen one.” He lectured her. “You need to be fit in the arena.”
“You mean, I need to be fit on my funeral?”
“Don’t say such things.” Cassius laughed nervously.
“Why not?” Nia asked with anger. “I know that you” she nodded toward Cross and Hunter “already decided that I don’t have any chance to survive this! That was your topic when I came in. Don’t deny it Cross, you’ve already chose Hunter from us! So don’t tell me what I’m supposed to do and pretend that you care about me!” With that, the girl grabbed her first plate again and took a big bite from the roasted beef.
The man examined Nia with a curious look. He took a sip from the vine what was in front of him.
“To say the truth, yes. I think Hunter has better chances. I saw the two of you on your trainings.” His honesty was not surprising. This simple, concentrated military mind set was common in the Second District, but even though, it still hurt Nia while she was listening her mentor. “You’re just not good enough to be victor. You let your emotions lead you and you’re too stubborn.”
“Then, I don’t want to disturb your important, secret conversation with you precious little soldier.” Nia stood up. “I’ll finish my meal in my room.”
As she was leaving, she felt the man’s gaze on herself. It was that mysterious and curious gaze again.

***

“Oh, I didn’t expect you here.” 
Hunter shrugged. “I wanted to see how it goes down.” He was talking about the sun. “I love watching it.”
“You… love?” Nia was absolutely amazed. She never thought about that Hunter could have any emotions like love.
They were at the end of the train, where the last wall was made of strong, thick glass.
“Well-” Nia didn’t know what to say, so just joined Hunter who was standing next to the wall with his arms crossed before himself.
“You don’t need to start any conversation.” Hunter told to her. “We are not friends, or anything.”
“I prefer the dawn.” Nia ignored his sentence. “I love when everything is glowing in the pure, early, golden light. Especially, the mountains.”
“I don’t understand.” Hunter finally turned to her. “Why aren’t you happy?”
“For what? The chance to die young? Die for entertaining idiots?”
“You never tried to think about this as a honor?” Hunter asked.
“You never tried to think about this as a curse?” Nia asked back.
Hunter shook his head. “You’re unbelievable.”
“I think the same goes for you too.” Nia could hardly hide her smile. “You know, I never thought that we will find something common.”
“And what is that?” Hunter sounded surprised.
“We both think the other is unbelievable.”
The boy’s face winced. Nia considered that a smile and took a step closer to him.
“You can laugh if you want, but I already miss home. Especially, because I know that I won’t see it anymore. I’m afraid from what’s coming. It’s good for you who has the chance to see our mountains again.”
Hunter’s face was closed and distant. He was gazing at the sun before he answered. “You don’t have the strength to defeat me. But I won’t be your only enemy there. You are still strong enough to kill the others. And who know, maybe I got killed before we meet in the arena.”
“I don’t want this.” Nia murmured. “If I can’t win, I want you, to win the games.”
“Why?”
“We are from the same District.” The girl answered simply.
“I miss it a little too, you know. Our home.”
They were silent for a minute. Nia thought about the life in her District, the little villages around the mines, hiking with her father, the mountains’ sight on the horizon… Everything was so far now… Too far…
“Listen to Cross.” Hunter broke the silence suddenly. “If you love our District, don’t make it look ridiculous with your stupid acting. Make them proud of you.” 
“Why? To let my memory set as an example to make another kids want to live and die as good soldiers?”
“In that way, they will die happily if they have to.”
“But they will die in a lie.”
“It’s not a lie, just because it’s not your truth.”
“I’ve finally found you!” Cassius’ voice interrupted them. “I wanted to be there when you first see my home!” His face was so excited and delighted that no one had the heart to break his high mood down with telling him, nobody cares. Hunter simply just wasn’t interested at the Capitol itself, and Nia hated everything which was connected to the games.
“Just a few more minutes.” Cassius commented.
Hunter pulled up his eyebrows and exchanged a look with Nia.
“Promise me.” He whispered. “Promise me you won’t make a fool of our District.”
“Don’t worry.” Nia’s face was determined. “I won’t.”
“Great. I want something from you to be sure you will keep your word.”
“What?”
But before Hunter could answer, everything went dark. They were in the tunnel which connected the Capitol and their District. In the pitch black, somebody grabbed Nia’s arm and she heard Hunter’s silent words in her ear.
“This.” His lips were cold and dry, but his kiss was fierce and strong. For a moment, Nia just stood there, but then she let him win. Hunter’s fingers slipped down to her waist and pulled her closer to himself. As their kiss deepened, the girl twined her arms around his neck. 
Just before the tunnel ended, Hunter released her and when they saw the light, they were standing beside the other like if nothing was happened.
“Look!” Cassius – who didn’t notice what happened while they were in the dark – clapped his hands for a few times.
The Capitol was big and imposing. The weakening sunlight was glowing and burning on the modern, stylish buildings.
“Uhm-” Nia smiled weakly “It’s very… different from District Two.” She felt that is too wry so tried to add something better. “But… I-”
“We love it of course,” Hunter saved the situation “but it’s just too fresh. We have to take a better look.”
“Of course, of course.” Cassius agreed. “But I have things to arrange, so excuse me.”
“What was that?” Nia hissed when they were alone with Hunter.
The boy ran his finger trough his lips. “I thought it was a good idea. I always wanted to try how it feels to kiss you. It was pure curiosity and desire, don’t think anything deep.”
“Anything deep?” Nia echoed.
“Like, I’m in love with you.”
“I’m not that stupid.” The girl grimaced. 
“I just wanted to be certain.”
“Thank you.” Nia grimaced again. “It’s good to know that you were testing me.”
“Don’t say you never thought about how does it feel to kiss me?”
The girl’s face went red and muttered something. Of course she imagined. Hunter was handsome and even though he was ruthless, it was somehow good to watch him fight, because of his skills. Furthermore, he always seemed strong and confident which made him more attractive.
“That was a yes?”
“Yes.” Nia repeated herself. “Are you are satisfied?” 
“Not really.” Hunter shrugged. “I don’t care that much, I just wanted to know.”
“What the two of you are still doing here?” Cross was standing at the door. “Come, we have a lot of work to do!”
Even the air felt different outside of the train. Nia took a deep breath and wrinkled her nose.
“I don’t like this.”
“Nobody asked for your opinion!” Cross snapped at her. He looked very annoyed. “I hate this place!” He said trough his clenched teeth.
“I can understand that.” The girl nodded.
“Come, come!” Cassius were nearly dancing around them. “We will have a hard day tomorrow so you need a big sleep tonight.”

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