Книга Mockingjay. Содержание - 24

«Thanks for the water,» Peeta says.

«No problem,» Gale replies. «I wake up ten times a night anyway.»

«To make sure Katniss is still here?» asks Peeta.

«Something like that,» Gale admits.

There’s a long pause before Peeta speaks again. «That was funny, what Tigris said. About no one knowing what to do with her.»

«Well,we never have,» Gale says.

They both laugh. It’s so strange to hear them talking like this. Almost like friends. Which they’re not. Never have been. Although they’re not exactly enemies.

«She loves you, you know,» says Peeta. «She as good as told me after they whipped you.»

«Don’t believe it,» Gale answers. «The way she kissed you in the Quarter Quell…well, she never kissed me like that.»

«It was just part of the show,» Peeta tells him, although there’s an edge of doubt in his voice.

«No, you won her over. Gave up everything for her. Maybe that’s the only way to convince her you love her.» There’s a long pause. «I should have volunteered to take your place in the first Games. Protected her then.»

«You couldn’t,» says Peeta. «She’d never have forgiven you. You had to take care of her family. They matter more to her than her life.»

«Well, it won’t be an issue much longer. I think it’s unlikely all three of us will be alive at the end of the war. And if we are, I guess it’s Katniss’s problem. Who to choose.» Gale yawns. «We should get some sleep.»

«Yeah.» I hear Peeta’s handcuffs slide down the support as he settles in. «I wonder how she’ll make up her mind.»

«Oh, that I do know.» I can just catch Gale’s last words through the layer of fur. «Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can’t survive without.»


A chill runs through me. Am I really that cold and calculating? Gale didn’t say, «Katniss will pick whoever it will break her heart to give up,» or even «whoever she can’t live without.» Those would have implied I was motivated by a kind of passion. But my best friend predicts I will choose the person who I think I «can’t survive without.» There’s not the least indication that love, or desire, or even compatibility will sway me. I’ll just conduct an unfeeling assessment of what my potential mates can offer me. As if in the end, it will be the question of whether a baker or a hunter will extend my longevity the most. It’s a horrible thing for Gale to say, for Peeta not to refute. Especially when every emotion I have has been taken and exploited by the Capitol or the rebels. At the moment, the choice would be simple. I can survive just fine without either of them.

In the morning, I have no time or energy to nurse wounded feelings. During a predawn breakfast of liver pâté and fig cookies, we gather around Tigris’s television for one of Beetee’s break-ins. There’s been a new development in the war. Apparently inspired by the black wave, some enterprising rebel commander came up with the idea of confiscating people’s abandoned automobiles and sending them unmanned down the streets. The cars don’t trigger every pod, but they certainly get the majority. At around four in the morning, the rebels began carving three separate paths—simply referred to as the A, B, and C lines—to the Capitol’s heart. As a result, they’ve secured block after block with very few casualties.

«This can’t last,» says Gale. «In fact I’m surprised they’ve kept it going so long. The Capitol will adjust by deactivating specific pods and then manually triggering them when their targets come in range.» Almost within minutes of his prediction, we see this very thing happen on-screen. A squad sends a car down a block, setting off four pods. All seems well. Three scouts follow and make it safely to the end of the street. But when a group of twenty rebel soldiers follow them, they’re blown to bits by a row of potted rosebushes in front of a flower shop.

«I bet it’s killing Plutarch not to be in the control room on this one,» says Peeta.

Beetee gives the broadcast back to the Capitol, where a grim-faced reporter announces the blocks that civilians are to evacuate. Between her update and the previous story, I am able to mark my paper map to show the relative positions of the opposing armies.

I hear scuffling out on the street, move to the windows, and peek out a crack in the shutters. In the early morning light, I see a bizarre spectacle. Refugees from the now occupied blocks are streaming toward the Capitol’s center. The most panicked are wearing nothing but nightgowns and slippers, while the more prepared are heavily bundled in layers of clothes. They carry everything from lapdogs to jewelry boxes to potted plants. One man in a fluffy robe holds only an overripe banana. Confused, sleepy children stumble along after their parents, most either too stunned or too baffled to cry. Bits of them flash by my line of vision. A pair of wide brown eyes. An arm clutching a favorite doll. A pair of bare feet, bluish in the cold, catching on the uneven paving stones of the alley. Seeing them reminds me of the children of 12 who died fleeing the firebombs. I leave the window.

Tigris offers to be our spy for the day since she’s the only one of us without a bounty on her head. After securing us downstairs, she goes out into the Capitol to pick up any helpful information.

Down in the cellar I pace back and forth, driving the others crazy. Something tells me that not taking advantage of the flood of refugees is a mistake. What better cover could we have? On the other hand, every displaced person milling about on the streets means another pair of eyes looking for the five rebels on the loose. Then again, what do we gain by staying here? All we’re really doing is depleting our small cache of food and waiting for…what? The rebels to take the Capitol? It could be weeks before that happens, and I’m not so sure what I’d do if they did. Not run out and greet them. Coin would have me whisked back to 13 before I could say «nightlock, nightlock, nightlock.» I did not come all this way, and lose all those people, to turn myself over to that woman.I kill Snow. Besides, there would be an awful lot of things I couldn’t easily explain about the last few days. Several of which, if they came to light, would probably blow my deal for the victors’ immunity right out of the water. And forget about me, I’ve got a feeling some of the others are going to need it. Like Peeta. Who, no matter how you spin it, can be seen on tape tossing Mitchell into that net pod. I can imagine what Coin’s war tribunal will do with that.

By late afternoon, we’re beginning to get uneasy about Tigris’s long absence. Talk turns to the possibilities that she has been apprehended and arrested, turned us in voluntarily, or simply been injured in the wave of refugees. But around six o’clock we hear her return. There’s some shuffling around upstairs, then she opens the panel. The wonderful smell of frying meat fills the air. Tigris has prepared us a hash of chopped ham and potatoes. It’s the first hot food we’ve had in days, and as I wait for her to fill my plate, I’m in danger of actually drooling.

As I chew, I try to pay attention to Tigris telling us how she acquired it, but the main thing I absorb is that fur underwear is a valuable trading item at the moment. Especially for people who left their homes underdressed. Many are still out on the street, trying to find shelter for the night. Those who live in the choice apartments of the inner city have not flung open their doors to house the displaced. On the contrary, most of them bolted their locks, drew their shutters, and pretended to be out. Now the City Circle’s packed with refugees, and the Peacekeepers are going door to door, breaking into places if they have to, to assign houseguests.

On the television, we watch a terse Head Peacekeeper lay out specific rules regarding how many people per square foot each resident will be expected to take in. He reminds the citizens of the Capitol that temperatures will drop well below freezing tonight and warns them that their president expects them to be not only willing but enthusiastic hosts in this time of crisis. Then they show some very staged-looking shots of concerned citizens welcoming grateful refugees into their homes. The Head Peacekeeper says the president himself has ordered part of his mansion readied to receive citizens tomorrow. He adds that shopkeepers should also be prepared to lend their floor space if requested.

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