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Книга Mockingjay. Содержание - 9

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At least Finnick doesn’t applaud or act all happy when it’s done. He just says, «People should know that happened. And now they do.»

«Let’s turn it off, Finnick, before they run it again,» I urge him. But as Finnick’s hand moves toward the remote control, I cry, «Wait!» The Capitol is introducing a special segment and something about it looks familiar. Yes, it’s Caesar Flickerman. And I can guess who his guest will be.

Peeta’s physical transformation shocks me. The healthy, clear-eyed boy I saw a few days ago has lost at least fifteen pounds and developed a nervous tremor in his hands. They’ve still got him groomed. But underneath the paint that cannot cover the bags under his eyes, and the fine clothes that cannot conceal the pain he feels when he moves, is a person badly damaged.

My mind reels, trying to make sense of it. I just saw him! Four—no, five—I think it was five days ago. How has he deteriorated so rapidly? What could they possibly have done to him in such a short time? Then it hits me. I replay in my mind as much as I can of his first interview with Caesar, searching for anything that would place it in time. There is nothing. They could have taped that interview a day or two after I blew up the arena, then done whatever they wanted to do to him ever since. «Oh, Peeta…» I whisper.

Caesar and Peeta have a few empty exchanges before Caesar asks him about rumors that I’m taping propos for the districts. «They’re using her, obviously,» says Peeta. «To whip up the rebels. I doubt she even really knows what’s going on in the war. What’s at stake.»

«Is there anything you’d like to tell her?» asks Caesar.

«There is,» says Peeta. He looks directly into the camera, right into my eyes. «Don’t be a fool, Katniss. Think for yourself. They’ve turned you into a weapon that could be instrumental in the destruction of humanity. If you’ve got any real influence, use it to put the brakes on this thing. Use it to stop the war before it’s too late. Ask yourself, do you really trust the people you’re working with? Do you really know what’s going on? And if you don’t…find out.»

Black screen. Seal of Panem. Show over.

Finnick presses the button on the remote that kills the power. In a minute, people will be here to do damage control on Peeta’s condition and the words that came out of his mouth. I will need to repudiate them. But the truth is, I don’t trust the rebels or Plutarch or Coin. I’m not confident that they tell me the truth. I won’t be able to conceal this. Footsteps are approaching.

Finnick grips me hard by the arms. «We didn’t see it.»

«What?» I ask.

«We didn’t see Peeta. Only the propo on Eight. Then we turned the set off because the images upset you. Got it?» he asks. I nod. «Finish your dinner.» I pull myself together enough so that when Plutarch and Fulvia enter, I have a mouthful of bread and cabbage. Finnick is talking about how well Gale came across on camera. We congratulate them on the propo. Make it clear it was so powerful, we tuned out right afterward. They look relieved. They believe us.

No one mentions Peeta.


I stop trying to sleep after my first few attempts are interrupted by unspeakable nightmares. After that, I just lie still and do fake breathing whenever someone checks on me. In the morning, I’m released from the hospital and instructed to take it easy. Cressida asks me to record a few lines for a new Mockingjay propo. At lunch, I keep waiting for people to bring up Peeta’s appearance, but no one does. Someone must have seen it besides Finnick and me.

I have training, but Gale’s scheduled to work with Beetee on weapons or something, so I get permission to take Finnick to the woods. We wander around awhile and then ditch our communicators under a bush. When we’re a safe distance away, we sit and discuss Peeta’s broadcast.

«I haven’t heard one word about it. No one’s told you anything?» Finnick says. I shake my head. He pauses before he asks, «Not even Gale?» I’m clinging to a shred of hope that Gale honestly knows nothing about Peeta’s message. But I have a bad feeling he does. «Maybe he’s trying to find a time to tell you privately.»

«Maybe,» I say.

We stay silent so long that a buck wanders into range. I take it down with an arrow. Finnick hauls it back to the fence.

For dinner, there’s minced venison in the stew. Gale walks me back to Compartment E after we eat. When I ask him what’s been going on, again there’s no mention of Peeta. As soon as my mother and sister are asleep, I slip the pearl from the drawer and spend a second sleepless night clutching it in my hand, replaying Peeta’s words in my head. «Ask yourself, do you really trust the people you’re working with? Do you really know what’s going on? And if you don’t…find out.» Find out. What? From who? And how can Peeta know anything except what the Capitol tells him? It’s just a Capitol propo. More noise. But if Plutarch thinks it’s just the Capitol line, why didn’t he tell me about it? Why hasn’t anyone let me or Finnick know?

Under this debate lies the real source of my distress: Peeta. What have they done to him? And what are they doing to him right now? Clearly, Snow did not buy the story that Peeta and I knew nothing about the rebellion. And his suspicions have been reinforced, now that I have come out as the Mockingjay. Peeta can only guess about the rebel tactics or make up things to tell his torturers. Lies, once discovered, would be severely punished. How abandoned by me he must feel. In his first interview, he tried to protect me from the Capitol and rebels alike, and not only have I failed to protect him, I’ve brought down more horrors upon him.

Come morning, I stick my forearm in the wall and stare groggily at the day’s schedule. Immediately after breakfast, I am slated for Production. In the dining hall, as I down my hot grain and milk and mushy beets, I spot a communicuff on Gale’s wrist. «When did you get that back, Soldier Hawthorne?» I ask.

«Yesterday. They thought if I’m going to be in the field with you, it could be a backup system of communication,» says Gale.

No one has ever offered me a communicuff. I wonder, if I asked for one, would I get it? «Well, I guess one of us has to be accessible,» I say with an edge to my voice.

«What’s that mean?» he says.

«Nothing. Just repeating what you said,» I tell him. «And I totally agree that the accessible one should be you. I just hope I still have access to you as well.»

Our eyes lock, and I realize how furious I am with Gale. That I don’t believe for a second that he didn’t see Peeta’s propo. That I feel completely betrayed that he didn’t tell me about it. We know each other too well for him not to read my mood and guess what has caused it.

«Katniss—» he begins. Already the admission of guilt is in his tone.

I grab my tray, cross to the deposit area, and slam the dishes onto the rack. By the time I’m in the hallway, he’s caught up with me.

«Why didn’t you say something?» he asks, taking my arm.

«Why didn’tI ?» I jerk my arm free. «Why didn’tyou , Gale? And I did, by the way, when I asked you last night about what had been going on!»

«I’m sorry. All right? I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to tell you, but everyone was afraid that seeing Peeta’s propo would make you sick,» he says.

«They were right. It did. But not quite as sick as you lying to me for Coin.» At that moment, his communicuff starts beeping. «There she is. Better run. You have things to tell her.»

For a moment, real hurt registers on his face. Then cold anger replaces it. He turns on his heel and goes. Maybe I have been too spiteful, not given him enough time to explain. Maybe everyone is just trying to protect me by lying to me. I don’t care. I’m sick of people lying to me for my own good. Because really it’s mostly for their own good. Lie to Katniss about the rebellion so she doesn’t do anything crazy. Send her into the arena without a clue so we can fish her out. Don’t tell her about Peeta’s propo because it might make her sick, and it’s hard enough to get a decent performance out of her as it is.

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