[Cassie felt a spark of irritation and worry at seeing Johanna reach for the bottle of alcohol, suddenly wondering if her friend was starting to walk down the path of the alcoholics, which didn’t sound like an all too great idea in Cassie’s ears.] Because you deserve the truth, don’t you think?
You act like I’m dead, already.
I don’t know what’s worse. Knowing I’m gonna lose the only friend I have here, or the thought of you already being dead.
[She’d been lost in her mind; lost in memories of blood and flashes of green and once-familiar, lifeless eyes staring up at her with an unforgiving hatred. She’d been ready to fight; ready to defend; ready to protect; ready to change the past as if she were still living in it, but the hand on her shoulder dragged her too soon out of her thoughts and her elbow had shot back of its own accord, her fist swinging around immediately after and connecting with the stranger’s face as a startled yelp escaped her. And then the images cleared and she saw her friend on the floor, the familiar voice breaking through.] God damn it! A word of advice… if you’re gonna touch me, make sure I know you’re there before you’re close enough for me to punch you in the face.
She was one of the youngest tributes ever reaped in Hunger Games history andher agility with an axe resonates throughout Panem. Sly. Savage. Sangfroid. These are just a few of the adjectives tossed around to describe Mason, who’s known for disarming her victims by feigning weakness
[ Peeta had been caught off guard by Johanna. He had never spoken to her, but had heard plenty about her before hand. When she asked him about the district 7 bread he was pleasantly surprised ] No, I haven’t. But if you ever get your hands on the recipe I could make it for you.
The recipe? Like… written down? [She grimaced.] But I… [She sighed.] Yeah. Guess I’ll keep an eye out for that. [A fresh wave of self hatred washed over her. She didn’t tell the baker that she wouldn’t be able to read the recipe even if she found it.]
Oh, God. [Katniss turned away quickly as she rolled her eyes and clenched her jaw, shaking her head.] Damn you, Johanna. Put some clothes on. [Katniss casually began playing with her bowstring, trying to ignore how Johanna was completely nude. She was the only person she knew who was truly uncomfortable with nakedness. For everyone else, it was no big deal.] Yes, but you’re gonna get an infection or something somewhere you really don’t want to get one in.
[Johanna held back a laugh as Katniss tried to avoid the sight of her naked body. So pure.] Don’t think I will. I like to train nude. It’s freeing. You should give it a try sometime. [She smirked and threw her axe down, walking casually to stand directly in front of the girl.] I’m not too worried about infections. I’m good with my weapon. But your concern is truly touching. [Pausing in thought for a moment, she eyed the other girl up and her eyes fell to the bow Katniss was toying with. Johanna kept her eyes locked on the archer’s face, then reached out and slowly ran a finger along the bowstring, stopping less than an inch from Katniss’ own hand. She didn’t care about invading the girl’s personal space. It was fun to make people squirm.] Nice bow. Wanna show me how to use it?
Katniss trudged silently through the woods, her trusty bow in hand, with an arrow loaded in, ready to kill. She had taken more training time out of her schedule to relieve her anger of the previous days’ events, even though she hadn’t taken a partner. She knew she’d most likely get in trouble for going alone, but she needed to be by herself at the time being. With a sigh, she kicked over yet another obnoxious garden gnome as they greeted her and chased away game. She just rolled her eyes and clenched her jaw before moving on, silently sneaking away from the river. She had come to a hilly side when she spotted a large deer across the way a bit, causing a victorious smile to appear on her face. She needed to get this kill, to do whatever she had to do.
She slowly stepped down with one foot to the second layer of the hill and kept her other foot on top before pulling the string back and aiming, slightly leaning over the edge a bit to get a better angle. But she thought too soon. With a yelp, she lost her balance and tumbled down the hill, cries of pain escaping her every time she roughly hit the terrain. She finally let out a short groan as she landed on her stomach at the bottom, her bow sliding beside her, completely damaged now. Of course.
Johanna was angry. At least, angrier than usual. She’d spent years convincing herself she didn’t care for anyone, but it hadn’t been true. She did care. She cared a lot. Of course, it only infuriated her and made it even harder to deal with the fact that one of the very few people she cared about was more than likely going to die. And what’s more, she had a feeling the people of 13 would never let her in the army. Sure, she couldn’t read or write particularly well, but it was more than that. She was the best with an axe in the entire pathetic place; she could kill without question or remorse or mercy; she could run out into the battle with no fears of death, and just hope to take as many Capitol soldiers down as possible. Yet all of that wasn’t enough, and she couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t want a person like her in their army. A heartless, cold, ruthless killer with nothing to lose. She decided they simply had it out for her. Hell, the whole world had it out for her. That morning, she’d snuck off into the woods to the spot she usually trained in. She needed to be alone. Alone was the only time it was safe to care.
Massacred trees surrounded her, and she now sat slumped on the floor, her head in her hands as the tears of stress, grief and anguish finally flooded out. With one more pathetic attempt at swinging the axe into the floor, she gave up, dropped the blade and collapsed into the emotions. It wasn’t like anyone was around to see or hear. But still, this weakness wasn’t good at any time, even if she was alone. Johanna let out a scream of rage and swung her fist into the stump of a tree she’d chopped down gradually a few months ago. She pulled the fist away, throbbing and bleeding, and groaned, but froze completely as the sound of another person’s yelp caught her attention. She wasn’t alone. Shit. She scrambled to her feet, grabbing the axe in one hand and hastily wiping away the tears with the other. This stranger couldn’t see her weak. As ran through the the few trees that separated her training area from a large hill, the cries of pain reached her ears and she allowed anger to spread through her. It sounded like someone was under attack, and Johanna was ready - axe in hand - to take down whoever thought they stood a chance against a rebel. Bursting out of the trees and into the clearing at the bottom of the hill, she took up a fighting stance, but stopped in her tracks at the sight before her - a sight she definitely did not expect to see: a familiar figure tumbling down the hill opposite. Johanna was frozen, watching in both shock and horror. If it didn’t look so painful and her mood wasn’t so terrible, she would’ve been amused, but she was pretty sure it wasn’t like the huntress to lose her footing. She could almost say she felt concern. As Katniss landed in a heap at the bottom, Johanna winced and finally was able to move, running over to the girl’s side and kneeling down on the ground. She could only hope Katniss couldn’t see the signs of weakness on her face that she’d probably missed in her hurry. Johanna figured her usual sarcasm and coldness would be a good way to hide it, even if deep down she was concerned for the girl’s wellbeing.
"Damn, Brainless. Y’know, if you didn’t wanna be up there, you could’ve just walked down."
What are you expecting? A parade?
[ Peeta cleared his throat, inching away only slightly ] I am. Or, so I’ve heard. With baking, at least.
Uh-huh… [Johanna bit her lip and eyed the baker in thought for a moment. She’d been having fun with her flirting; it was an intimidation tactic more than anything else - she always liked to rile up the pure ones and make them squirm - but now, she decided Peeta might actually be a useful friend.] You ever make that bread from 7? Y’know? The one with the maple syrup inside?
[Cassie was stunned by the wave of words that left Johanna’s mouth suddenly, at once. Did she really just say she thought it was all her fault? Cassie wanted to punch her for letting the idiotic thought into her head.]
Listen to yourself, woman. What the hell is this? Johanna Mason, trying not to cry over the things she tells herself, the things she blames herself for, things she shouldn’t blame herself for? It’s not your fucking fault, Jo! Yes, people die! Sure, if I could save all those people I’ve lost in my life, I would have, I would have saved my… My brother, if I could have saved him. But I couldn’t, and you couldn’t save anyone, either.
[Cassie never spoke about her brother, Fabian. His memory hurt her, and so, talking about him to anyone was a big no-no. But here she was, doing exactly so.]
And you can not save me. But instead of accepting that fact and move the fuck on, here you are, dwelling in self-pity and uncalled self-hatred. What is it, Jo, do you think you are cursed? Is that it? Do you think you are under this spell which kills everything and everyone you love? No, you fucking aren’t, Jo, that’s called life.
And you know what, Johanna? Life is a bitch. It bites in the ass and it stabs in the back. You will lose people, no matter what you do, whether you take them down yourself, or they slip in the fucking shower and hit their head, you lose them. You lose them, and you will keep on losing them, whether you pretend to care or not. And you know what I’ve learned from it? To make those mistakes, to slip up and do wrong, to flip everything and everyone the finger and do what I want, fight what I want to fight for ‘cause life is too fucking short to not care and not do what I want, make the mistakes, do wrong, especially with the rebellion going on now. Maybe it’s time for you to start realising that you should care, instead of deciding that you can’t.
[Johanna listened to Cassie’s whole speech in silence, moving to sit back down at the table. She reached for the bottle of liquor and clung to it like a lifeline. Part of her finally understood why Haymitch drank. It felt safer with a bottle in her hand, knowing she could chug it all down and escape reality at any moment she chose.] Why did you have to tell me? Why did I have to know, of all people? I don’t wanna know. Why couldn’t you just keep me in the dark? [She sighed, defeated, giving up on trying to wipe each tear away as it fell and instead settling on bringing the bottle to her lips. She drank deeply, but the burn from the liquor in her throat caused her to splutter and cough and she had to slam the bottle back down onto the table.]
I can’t care. That’s the thing. This is what happens every time I do. So yeah, maybe I am cursed. And maybe I just lost more people than I can cope with. Maybe I’m done fighting just for everything to always turn out the same way. I’m just trying to handle it. All of this.