Disclaimer: Not my characters, just borrowing them because I guess I didn't think they had enough emotional torture in the books? Title from Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men.
Summary: Annie divides her life into Before and After; Finnick helps her keep the lines.
AN: I have a handful of these little fics with no real plot that were supposed to be drabbles and ended up much longer in various fandoms, and they probably aren't going to grow actual plots any time soon, so. Might as well post now? Spoilers through CF, but as long as you know who Finnick and Annie are, you're good.
She divides her life into neat little folded sections, separates the different bits with crisp sharp seams that keep it all from mixing. It grounds her to sort out her past in this way--makes it easier to remember she's in the present. Finnick says that's a good thing to remember, and she trusts Finnick, so it must be.
(and if his voice is a little wrecked and his eyes are a little sad, she looks down and pretends not to see and holds his hand tight so he knows she trusts him anyway)
She keeps it simple: first, there is Before. That line is drawn right outside her cave in the arena, an invisible boundary stretching strong and tall into the heavens to keep the screams and blood and dirty rushing water out. She doesn't think about Before, much. Most people think she can't remember it, but she can, and that's half the problem—it’s too easy to mix up Before with After, and Before doesn’t deserve that. She didn’t know very much in Before, but now she can’t ever unknow it so she goes into Before with the things she shouldn’t know then and it’s wrong wrong wrong and
There is After, which she divides like this: Alone and Not Alone.
Alone is not good. Alone is her cave in the arena, all echoes and dark and tight spaces and still not safe. Alone is the flood with its dirt-streaked water, metallic with blood and toxic with screams. Alone is a too big bed and too many blankets that will never be enough to help her disappear.
Not Alone is not good, either, but it’s easier. She doesn’t have to squeeze her eyes shut as tightly if Finnick’s arms are there, or scream as loud to block out the noise if he’s whispering to her.
Alone and Not Alone are harder to keep separate. Sometimes, when Finnick’s not there, she feels him so much anyway that it’s like he’s in Alone with her, except he can’t be, because Alone is alone and it’s not safe, besides. And then sometimes he’ll come to her, and she’ll be Not Alone, but she’s not sure if it’s real, because sometimes she can feel him there when he’s not so she screams and screams and screams until she’s sure—sure because she never can quite get how sharp his voice sounds, the tremor of muscle underneath his skin, so it must really be him.
It’s hard to keep those lines, but Finnick helps. She tells him about the folds of her life one day, though she doesn’t say much about Before because his eyes would get green with sadness if he knew all that, and she thinks they look like the ocean as they are, and that’s nice. But she tells him about the crisp sharp seams, how sometimes the lines blur anyway and she’s not sure. And he buys a long sheet of clean white paper and he holds her hands steady as she bends it into sections, wipes his thumb with hers firmly along the creases.
He sets on the table next to their bed and tells her to focus on her folds when the lines get blurry.
And she thinks, rather selfishly, because this is After: I like it when you’re here.