for etherealfinnick on the occasion of her birthday
When Finnick arrives home after three weeks in the Capitol, all he can think of is seeing Annie again. The moment he walks through the door, he drops his suitcase in the foyer and calls her name. He hadn’t told her that he was coming home, mostly because he hadn’t known himself; when the opportunity had arisen, he’d jumped at the chance.
“Annie!” he calls again. “I’m home!”
The house is silent. Nothing but the tick tock of the ornate grandfather clock across from the front door, carved wood mermaids and dolphins, inlaid with mother of pearl as well as a microphone and a pin-sized camera trained on the front door. Snow likes to keep an eye on his victors.
A quick circuit of the house confirms that she isn’t there,. Picking up the phone in the kitchen, he tries to call Mags, but there’s no dial tone. That isn’t particularly unusual; the phones on the island seem to work most reliably right before the Games, which are a good three months away. Heading out the kitchen door, Finnick heads toward Mags’ house at a jog, not caring that his expensive Capitol shoes might be damaged by the salty sand of the beach and the path that more or less connects the victors’ houses.
As usual, Mags’ back door isn’t locked. Finnick pushes in and calls out, “Mags! Have you seen Annie? She’s not–” He stops abruptly at the sight of his mentor holding a finger to her lips and then pointing toward the living room. Finnick toes his shoes off and pads across her kitchen floor in sock feet.
Annie is curled up, asleep, on Mags’ couch, her hair a tumble of waves over her face and shoulders. There’s a quilt covering her and a half-empty cup of tea on the table in front of her. Finnick looks from Annie to Mags.
“She had a rough night. She ran here this morning to escape her ghosts, as she put it.” At the look of concern on Finnick’s face, she reaches up to pat his cheek. “She’s fine, boy.”
Mags takes him by the hand and leads him back into the kitchen, settling him into a chair while she puts the kettle on for hot water. He watches her bustle about the kitchen for a moment, although more than half his attention is on the living room and the woman asleep there on the couch.
When Mags sets a cup of steaming tea in front of him before pulling out a chair for herself, Finnick asks, “What caused the nightmares? Did she say?”
A snort of laughter and Mags says, “She didn’t say, hijo, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. She saw you with the Cranes on television last night.”
Heat rises in his cheeks and he lifts his tea, blowing on it to cover his embarrassment. Seneca Crane had been rising in the ranks of Gamemakers for years, with both Finnick’s and Annie’s Games included in the announcement the night before of his promotion to Head Gamemaker for the the upcoming 74th Games. The 70th Games had featured some deadly “ghosts” that had resembled banshees.
“Mags?” Annie’s voice calling from the living room sounded rough with sleep.
Finnick pushed back from the table, his tea forgotten. He was just turning toward the door when Annie appeared in the doorway, the quilt wrapped around her shoulders and trailing across the floor. She stopped just inside the kitchen. Her eyes widened. A smile spread across her face as she dropped the quilt, hopping over it as she called his name.
They crashed together in the middle of Mags’ kitchen. Finnick’s arms closed around Annie’s waist and he lifted her from the floor, spinning her around, both of them laughing. He had a glimpse of Mags smiling face just before the old woman turned and walked out her back door, giving them a moment of privacy.
“I missed you so much,” Annie whispered into his ear, her breath tickling.
“I missed you too,” he said, his voice becoming muffled as he nuzzled at her neck. “But I’m home now.” He reached up to smooth a lock of unruly hair out of her eyes. “I’m home.”