WHO: Annie & Finnick Odair WHAT: reunion after memories come back, & Annie needs to sort out what's real. WHEN: sometime around 1:30 pm, probably WHERE: Storybrooke, The Upper Crust WARNINGS: nothing really. a lot of mental confusion on Annie's part.
His memories crashed back into him like a surging wave. It was overwhelming for a moment, remembering all those years of abuse, all those years of violence. He had wondered all his life what he would have been like if he had been someone who hadn’t been in the Hunger Games, and now he knew. It was both humbling and terrifying -- too much for him to actually put into coherent though at the moment.
If he’d had time to think it over, he would have also been cowed by this world that had aligned him and Katniss in a romantic sort of way -- emphasis on the sort of.
But he didn’t have time to worry about his and Katniss’ relationship -- where it was real and where it had strayed a little from the truth -- because, abruptly, there was only a single person he cared about: Annie.
Because here was the truth of truths, that no matter how the world they had come from had destroyed him, it had also brought him to her, and her to him, and she completed him in a way that no other person, no matter what world he was in, could complete him.
And he knew that if she had remembered everything, she was probably feeling scared and overwhelmed. He broke into a run and sprinted the rest of the way to the Rusk bakery, arriving breathless and flustered at the bakery. He jerked the door open.
“Annie!” he called.
The world had made sense one moment, and been thrown into absolute chaos the next. Annie had been in the middle of giving Meadow her lunch, and then everything came back to her, images, memories, sounds -- and the plate dropped to the floor, pieces of bread and cheese and ham going everywhere. The plate itself was plastic, thankfully, or it would have broken on impact. Still, Annie felt the sense of something - everything - shattering around her.
She let out a terrified wail and fled the room, unable to look at the child - her daughter? Was that real? - and ended up in the kitchen, sinking down near the oven, curling around herself as much as her pregnant belly would allow. She closed her eyes and covered her ears.
Meadow was crying. Or was that her? Both of them? Then she was in her room in Thirteen, crying over Finnick; she was in her cell in the Capitol, cowering from her captors. No, she was in Storybrooke - Mount Weather - in the flooded river, surrounded by the dead - in her kitchen, smelling fresh bread - down by the docks, where the waves crashed on the beach. In Maine or in Four.
She rocked back and forth, sobbing in terror and grief and horror, swept up and jostled around by each new wave of information as her mind failed to process any of it properly. She heard her name but didn’t know if it was real.
“Finnick,” she blubbered, mentally reaching out for her port in a storm, without having any idea if he was nearby. “Finnick…”
He heard her crying, the response of his name a clarion call. He passed briefly by a bewildered Ed, who was holding Meadow, obviously also uncertain what the hell was happening -- Finnick had enough awareness to realize that he didn’t think he’d ever met Ed before, and had no idea who he was. For a blip of a second, he also wondered over who Meadow was and where she had come from, but his mind was too filled Annie to let those thoughts culminate in anything.
He dropped to his knees as soon as he found Annie in the kitchen. He wrapped one arm around her, the other going to smooth her hair out of her face. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, bringing her as close to him as he was able, trying to still her rocking.
“I’m here, Annie,” Finnick murmured. “I’m right here, see? Everything’s all right. Everything’s fine. You’re okay.”
Annie flinched away from the shadow that fell over her. But his touch was familiar, and slowly, her movements started to orient towards him, leaning into his arms even as she continued to rock back and forth. Even more slowly, she stilled, burying her face in his shoulder and curling against him, her fingers tangling in his shirt.
“Finnick,” she murmured back, plaintively. He was solid, steady, a constant in her life upon which she could start to sort out the reality around her. She was fairly certain he was there. But she was more confused than she’d been in a long time, and she didn’t know where they were, or what was happening.
It felt like it had been a long time since he’d held her. She couldn’t understand why.
“I’m here,” Finnick murmured again at the repeat of his name. “I’m right here, Annie.” He knew that was the best thing to tell her right now -- maybe the only thing that mattered. Yes, whatever they were going through was weird and overwhelming, but they were here together. They had each other, and that was always the realest, most important thing to them.
He didn’t try to explain anything else yet, because he wasn’t sure if he understood it himself. Obviously, they had somehow gotten here from Mount Weather, but he didn’t know how or why, or how they were going to be here.
Annie believed him. He was real. He felt real. And as she tuned all of her senses into him, inhaling his scent, listening to his heartbeat and his breathing, the world slowed down a little. Her body slowly relaxed into his arms, her heartbeat and breathing returned to a more normal pace. She still didn’t open her eyes.
“Storybrooke,” she said, after a while. “Are we in Storybrooke?”
“That’s right,” Finnick said gently. “We’re in Storybrooke.” This seemed a bit safer, to let her start to sift through things on her own and confirm what was real was and what wasn’t, instead of barraging her with all the information he had.
Vaguely, he wondered where Peeta was. It didn’t seem like he was here -- but he hoped that wherever he was, he had found Katniss quickly. He suspected this hadn’t been any easier for both of them, but Peeta also had that tenuous grasp when it came to reality, so Finnick hoped that he was with someone who would be able to help him and support him as well.
This was Annie’s primary coping method, besides trying to shut everything out: to ask questions, and trust that Finnick would tell her the truth. He always did. The answers didn’t always make sense, but then, life didn’t always make sense. Annie knew that, maybe better than most.
And there was so much that didn’t make sense that their location seemed the easiest to sort out.
“Where’s Mount Weather?” she asked, next. “Are we going back?”
“I don’t know,” Finnick admitted, the answer to both questions. “This seems like one of those tricks that sometimes happens there.” Which meant that they would probably go back, but as to when or if they were still technically in the mountain, Finnick had no idea.
“And I know that’s confusing, but we’re still safe, yes?” Finnick continued, smoothing a hand through her hair.
But even as he began to work through those logistics, he wondered if they really had left the mountain. He’d thought he’d been somewhere else -- back in the Capitol -- but that hadn’t been the case. It had just been an illusion. Was this another one? That seemed more likely. But then, they had been snatched from their homes and brought to Mount Weather, so it wasn’t outside the scope of possibility.
Quietly, he wondered what that did to Tristan -- Annie and Peeta had thought they’d had Meadow, who was obviously real somewhere. Did that make the baby in Annie’s belly Tristan or someone else? He didn’t say that out loud, because there was no way to find out that answer right now, and he didn’t want to risk panicking her anymore over something they couldn’t do anything about.
The simplest thing to ask about apparently wasn’t very simple at all. Annie closed her eyes even tighter and buried her face in his shirt.
Ultimately it didn’t matter where she was as long as she was safe, and so was Finnick, and Tristan, and -- “Meadow,” she murmured after a moment. The young girl had scared her so much at first, because she hadn’t known her, didn’t remember giving birth to her, didn’t remember being pregnant with her. Except she did remember those things, now, along with many other things: memories from Storybrooke were floating dreamily around in her mind, overlapping confusingly with a life that involved District Four, and the arena, and Finnick, and the war. “Is she real?”
“I don’t know,” Finnick admitted again. Meadow was probably the stickiest part of this situation. There weren’t many kids in Mount Weather -- none that Finnick could think of who could have been transferred here as Meadow. Did that mean she was created strictly in this realm? Was she really Peeta and Annie’s daughter? And if that was true, what happened to her when -- if -- they went back to Mount Weather? Did Meadow stay here by herself? Did she just disappear into nothingness? Did she come back with them?
“Ed’s got her right now,” Finnick said. “She’s physically still here, but I don’t know who she is.”
Annie gave a small sob. She should know whether her child was real. The more she thought about it, the more she remembered about Meadow. But the moment her mind turned away from the girl, the more dreamlike and unreal her daughter seemed to be.
Her hands went to her stomach. “Tristan?” she asked, her voice strained.
Finnick knew that was probably the worst answer he could have given her. They weren’t just talking about misconstrued moments, things they weren’t sure were safe enough -- they were talking about an entire person, a little girl, who they were supposed to be responsible for.
And yet -- and he knew this was selfish, so selfish -- it seemed even more difficult that he couldn’t give her an answer on whether or not their son was safe.
He rested his hand gently on top of hers, hoping that was reassuring.
“We’ll go see a doctor and get him checked out as soon as we can, okay?” Finnick said with a smile. “He’s still kicking you like a little brat, right?”
She’d actually been asking if the baby was real rather than safe -- that was how confused her mind was, with two different lifetimes running around in her head, two different memories of the pregnancy. But when she quieted and tried to listen, to feel, there it was: the reassuringly undeniable sensation of the baby moving around inside her. She hadn’t even noticed it, it had just been a background sensation, adding to the chaos and movement inside her head.
“Yes,” she answered, her hands pressed tightly against her lower belly. And then, just to make sure: “Do you feel him, too?”
“Yes,” Finnick answered, his voice breaking as he answered her. “I feel him too.”
He couldn’t help it. He was overwhelmed by the fact that, somehow, someone had made him forget Annie and Tristan. And he was so afraid that, somehow, because of that weakness, someone had taken their son from them. He could have happily raised any child of Annie’s -- loved Meadow simply because she was part Annie -- but he had met their son before, had loved him and known him to be real, so he didn’t know what to do if somehow they had been negated.
So, all he could do was fervently hope and believe that the baby inside of her was still Tristan and hadn’t been swapped up someone else.
Annie breathed in deeply. Tristan was real. Finnick was real. But - Storybrooke was real. It didn’t make any sense, but those were the facts she’d been able to establish.
“Peter?” she asked, after a moment. There was something about Peter that was wrong, but she was fairly sure he was real. He existed in a lot of memories from both timelines in her head. She was beginning to think that might be the most important determination for whether something was real or not.
And then she signed, Francis?
It shook Finnick a little that it took this much for Annie to remember what was real and what wasn’t. He was used to playing this game, but not to this level. The only thing that he be grateful for was that she knew him. She still trusted him, even if he hadn’t really factored into her life in Storybrooke.
“Peeta,” Finnick corrected softly. He ran a hand gently against her cheek. “Peeta, from home. You remember?” He didn’t want to have to get into the details of how they knew Peeta from home -- the Quarter Quell, the time in the Capitol and Thirteen -- if he didn’t have to.
He frowned when she moved her hands though. He had seen something like that before -- from the Avoxes, but he didn’t know what it meant.
“What’s that, sweetheart?” he asked.
“Peeta,” Annie repeated. No wonder she hadn’t been able to remember that, it sounded so much like Peter. He was real, but-- was he her husband? Ex-husband? As she was trying to sort that out, she added tentatively, “Katniss?”
There hadn’t been a Katniss in Storybrooke, but she had vague memories of a girl that looked a little like her. In the bakery, with Finn. She couldn’t remember what her name had been, but she was fairly certain it was something similar, like Peeta and Peter.
She looked down at her hands when he stared at them. “Francis,” she said aloud, her fingers automatically forming the signs for the letters to spell out the name. “Francis -- and Charlie. My brothers.”
If they were real, they were both in jail. It probably wouldn’t be difficult to check on them, although she really wasn’t inclined to move out of the circle of Finnick’s arms.
He wasn’t sure how clear things were from how she said Peeta’s name. But she followed it up with Katniss’, so he figured that couldn’t be all bad.
“She came through here as Katrina,” Finnick said, hoping that would be enough for her to connect the dots. It was suddenly almost lividly embarrassing that he had slept with Katniss -- and arguably when she still hadn’t wanted to, even in this world. He doubted that, wherever she was now, she was happy about that. He was going to have apologize and beg her forgiveness, he suspected.
That being said, it was almost comical that, in this world, he had been a virgin as long as he had been. Waiting for marriage. Good God.
But for now he was focused on what Annie was saying -- Francis and Charlie?
“You don’t have brothers at home,” Finnick said, shaking his head. “They’re probably people from Mount Weather that just came through as your ‘brothers.’”
That was true, she couldn’t remember having brothers in Four. “You had sisters,” she said aloud, for affirmation. She remembered Finnick’s sisters, but she’d been an only child, and her parents had been very different. She remembered a lot about Peter’s parents, too, especially his mother, but she didn’t know if that was real - and if it was, whether she should talk about it.
“They’re in jail,” she said. She was talking about her brothers now, although she’d neglected to give any sign - verbally - that would make the transition clear. “Francis can’t hear very well. He sometimes talks with his hands.”
She had just talked with her hands, too. So some of that must have happened. Right?
“I had sisters,” Finnick affirmed -- although that was hard too. Being here, he’d had to make peace with the fact that he would likely never see his sisters again -- unless they magically showed up in Mount Weather too. But he died back home, so there was no chance of seeing them there ever again. He didn’t even know if they survived the end of the war.
“You must have learned that through him then,” Finnick said, holding Annie’s hands in his. He was fairly certain that she hadn’t known the Avox language back home -- he didn’t know he would have not known that about her. Besides, the only Avoxes were in the Capitol, and didn’t think she would have been around one long enough to learn.
Annie was worried about her brothers, but even more fascinated by her new skill. She had others too, she realized -- she knew a lot more about baking bread than she ever had before -- but being able to communicate with her hands, almost unconsciously, was amazing.
She tried it out again, this time a word that she didn’t think she’d ever tried to sign before, just to see if she could. Spelling it out letter by letter, she showed him: F-I-N-N-I-C-K. A small smile appeared on her face, and she looked up at him. “That’s your name.”
The focus on something like this seemed to helping her -- which wasn’t entirely a surprise. She’d also liked doing something very focused, something with her hands.
He smiled back at her when she looked up at him, and felt something warm inside of him -- something, that for as much as he had thought he loved and cared for Katrina, only had ever belonged to Annie. It was that indescribable part of him, his utter love for her, that he hadn’t even known had been capable of existing before he had met her. It was what had saved his life when he had met her, 19 and floundering.
“Do it again,” he said quietly, watching her hands so that he could copy it this time.
Annie repeated it, carefully demonstrating the motions for each letter. It was so strange how it came so intuitively to her - as if she’d been speaking it since she was a child, because, in one of the lifetimes she remembered, she had.
“Finnick,” she said, when she’d finished signing the K. She smiled at him, and then a little uncertainty came back into her expression. Then she signed-- and simultaneously asked, aloud-- “Husband?”
“Husband,” Finnick repeated quietly.
It was a word he would never take for granted when it came to her. The world had proven time and time again that they couldn’t. This had just been another lesson that reinforced that.
“Who loves you more than anything,” Finnick added in the same tone, sliding his hand gently up to her neck, although he didn’t move to kiss her just yet. He didn’t want to overwhelm her if she was still feeling muddled when it came to their relationship.
Annie looked at him, more intently than she had since he’d come in here, and more warmly than she had in Storybrooke, ever. She loved him; that was real. She’d loved Peter too, though, and that was confusing. If she loved one more than the other, what did that mean? If one was in Storybrooke and the other everywhere else, did that make one of them less real?
When it came down to it, she knew how she felt, but what she was really worried about was hurting them. She wanted to kiss Finnick and tell him that she loved him more than anything, too, but-- “Peeta,” she said, “He loves Katniss?”
Something about Peter and Peeta was tripping her, but he wasn’t sure just what. He couldn’t help but worry a little. They’d always been stalwart in their feelings for each other -- in a way that Finnick had never seen any other couple. He’d never, ever had to worry about being jealous about anyone else. Had that changed somehow? Trying to be fitted with someone else had only proven, for him, that he was only made for Annie. What if she hadn’t had the same experience?
“Yes,” he answered all the same. “Peeta and Katniss love each other.”
Relief settled over her. It wasn’t the same thing as hearing it from Peeta himself - she wondered, vaguely, what had happened to him - but she believed it from Finnick, all the same. Even her memories from Storybrooke seemed to line up, now that she thought about it; she remembered that Peter had asked Katrina to the prom, first. That he stared at her when she came into the bakery. She remembered, too, that she’d wanted him to go and be with someone else -- that she’d wanted to be with someone else.
But he had been her best friend, and she had instinctively avoided pushing him so far that it would hurt him. That instinct still remained intact, apparently, even in his absence - and even in the face of all evidence that stated that he wasn’t really hers to hurt.
“I love you, too,” she said, softly, but loud enough for Finnick to hear it. “More than anything.”
It was such a relief to hear those words. He didn’t know what else there was to say.
He gathered Annie back up in his arms -- maybe too tightly, but he couldn’t help himself. He pressed a kiss to the top of her head, a little worried still about overwhelming her with anything more. But that done, he buried his face in her hair, just needing to be as close to her as he possibly could.
Annie burrowed into his chest, wrapping her arms around him as much as she could with her pregnant belly in the way. She nuzzled into his shoulder, inhaling the scent of him, warm and familiar. It made the reality of him and everything she felt for him sink in even deeper, settling into her consciousness like an anchor on the ocean floor.
She didn’t know what they were going to do now. But until he told her they needed to move, she was fine with staying right here.
And without really thinking about it, her fingertips moved over his ribs through his shirt, spelling out: safe.