Chapter 4: One For The Money
Before he knew it Abe was out of time to think. The train pulled into the Capitol station. The blurred landscape turned into grotesquely colorful Capitol citizens.
Cecila clicked into the cart where Abe absently stared out the windows. With her ombré pink hand she shook the boy. "Hey kiddo. Big day, parade in all, we need to get going."
Serena, Lapidis, and Vouge joined them in the train car. Outside the capitolites fussed over the tributes currently exiting the train, first time they'd been seen since the reaping and last before they were gussied up for the parade. The dark red haired boy pushed himself the window-side couch to join the rest of the district seven brigade. Serena still didn't have a word to say to him but returned his vacant stares with icy glares, guess that's the way it's going to be...
Thankfully they only had a short distance to walk with cameras glued to their faces. Abe and Serena and Cecila were crammed into another black car, like to one that drove them to the trains, and were taken to a warehouse.
Inside, Serena and Abe were separated, each taken to their own stylist. Each stylist only had a small working stations, and a team of two to help them. Abe's stylist was lounging on the morgue-like metal table. She had a mass dusty rose colored hair tied up into a messy bun. Unlike Cecila her skin wasn't dyed aside from a light pastel green that dusted her cheeks and shoulders, and her lip where painted a lightning blue that matched the makeup around her eyes. She hopped down when Abe was in sight, she circled him like a vulture, picking him apart with her eyes.
"Oh you are so much more handsome in person!" the woman exclaimed, running a finger along the boys jawline, "How'd you get lucky enough to have such pretty dark skin and this wild red hair?" She asked him, ruffling his own mass of hair, but it sounded pretty rhetorical. "I'm so lucky to have district seven too, none of you are ever scrawny..."
Abraham tried to interject but he couldn't get a word in, he just gaped at the stylist.
"Alright kid here's the deal; I'm Delilah, I'll be your friend if you need or we don't have to talk, but first thing's first we have to make it through tonight. No kicking and screaming, you look good and the crowd likes you it'll be good for the both of us so just cooperate." she paused and waited for a response, Abe nodded and she continued on. She snapped her fingers at her team and the started writing as she quickly instructing them, "Eyebrows need a major tweeze. Don't worry about arm or leg hair, it seems light enough. Remove any and all under arm, chest and stomach hair. And figure out what to do with this mass of hair on his head." Delilah smiled. "alright I've got a few last minute adjustments to make with Serena's stylist so I'll be back later." She stretched out her arms then walked off. The two assistants took that as a sign to start getting Abe cleaned up.
Abe was stripped of his own clothes and thrown into a hospital-like gown. Then he was hoisted up on the cold metal table. The assistant enthusiastically chatted constantly about their mundane lives, they didn't even try to talk to him, it was like they were working on a corpse. Yeah, that's what he felt like a corpse. And this was the morgue, and they were the undertakers, making him pretty for one last showing before they put him in the ground.
The fourteen year old spaced out until the undertakers seemed done with him. His eyebrows hurt enough to prove they'd been working. Now he could hear them arguing about what to do with his hair, and to hurry and figure something out before Delilah came back. One of them dipped their hand in gel and run it through Abe's hair. The other stood behind gaping, eyes wide, with fear and anticipation, but they relaxed when the first one pulled away. "There!" They said, "Up and out of the way and Delilah can still do what ever she wants with it."
The two assistants chattered for a minute then ran off after Delilah. All three of the capilolites came back with vaults of warm colored fabrics and a strange branch form.
Still the Capitolites kept to themselves, Abe appreciated this. He didn't even know how to communicate with normal people, he always tried to make up for his general awkwardness and inability to interact socially with humor, even that had only made him one friend. But these people were a whole new breed, weirder than weird.
Abraham watched them intently though as they cut and painted beautiful fall colored leaves onto a long creme cloak. Delilah left her assistants to work on the cloak and made her way over to Abe. She handed him a pair of dark brown pants, as he on folded the clothing in his hands he noticed the only slightly darker bark pattern on them.
"Bark I know very exciting put them on we're on a schedule babe." Delilah remarked a lot more sarcastically than the boy was expecting.
Abe made a face and followed the stylist's instructions. The second he was done she started messing with his hair, mumbling to herself about continuity with Serena's outfit. Once she had finished placing every strand where she wanted it she snapped her fingers at the assistants until one of them place a big chunky paint brush in her hand. "Can't get that cloak dirty, so make up first."
"Makeup? Foreal?" the boy whined.
"Yes." Delilah pursed her lips. "now quit whinnying and hold still." The colorful Capital stylish went to work, after what Abe felt was forever, Delilah finished by painting a dark forest green around his eyes. She snapped her fingers again, and again her assistant brought a brush, but this want a makeup brush with gentle bristles this was a paint brush, like a picket fence painting paint brush. She dipped it graciously into the same paint/make up -Abe wasn't sure want that green gunk was at this point- and brushed it into his hair. Two thick green streaks starting by his ear and blending out into his deep red hair.
Luckily, for them, the assistants finished painting and sewing onto the cloak only ten minutes or so after Delilah finished with Abe, surely her whistling and foot tapping had to do with their timely finish. It looked really freaking cool. Sure the long train made it look a little effeminate but the way the leaves were painted on looked like they'd just fallen from a tree and slowly accumulated at the bottom -the train- like the wet piles that accumulated on the paths through the trees back home. And when you saw those colors in the leaves it was the perfect time of year, work days were shorter because it got dark sooner, and the days were warm enough to comfortably wear a light sweater and the nights were cold enough to light a fire a sit by the hearth listening to Cain tell the craziest tall tales and watch the wonder in Maura's face a she listened. Fall was the best season. And he liked the colors of his parade outfit, that they reminded him of his favorite season back home, even if was only to miss it.
Delilah noticed Abraham's mind wander, maybe even recognizing the sadness in his eyes, "Hey Abe, we need your help to get this one. Just like a long coat one arm in then the other."
Abe blinked, "Uh, right sorry. I just-" The boy trailed off as he concentrated on getting into the article of clothing. He was still wearing his gown over his pants, he tried getting into the robe with it on until Delilah gave him a look and he remembered to take it off.
"Look kid I'm sorry if you don't like it, but it'll look good on you and you'll look great next to Serena so-"
"No! ...I .... No that not... Thank you... I like it..."
The stylist smirked, placing a hand on her hip, "See I knew we'd get along."
Abe cracked a small smile. Then He noticed the mayors daughter walking in towards Abe and his team of stylists behind her own. She looked prettier than pretty. Her outfit was similar to his but she wore a long open back dress. Her leaves were greens and yellows that similarly fluttered down the dress and piled in the trail. Her blonde hair was tied into a neat high bun, adorned with a small crown of twisted branches that surrounded it, small stands were left free to frame her face. But she had a form fitting sculpture of branches around her that he didn't, in her front it looked like a draping necklace and as it twisted over her shoulders and down her back it turned into roots, partly covering her otherwise bare back and trailing down the dress.
Her stylist looked annoyed, constantly looking around at the other tributes slowly trickling out of the warehouse, loaded onto their chariots. "We need to get going Deliliah." he trilled, "the parade starts like soon."
Delilah made a face and reached for Abraham's branch sculpture, quickly fitting it onto him. Then for the second time today Serena and Abe were herded off.
They were guided to their chariot, they met up with the rest of the District seven team. But Lapidis told them to quickly get on the chairot. The anthem already started, man Delilah really cut it close. The chariots for district one started to move. Abe's chest started pounding faster. Holy shit this was actually happening. Do or die time. Their own chariot started to move, Delilah and Lapidis yelled some instruction after them but they were to far back and the anthem was too loud to hear. Crap, what if what they were saying was important. It was so important that he get sponsors, like that could save his life. He needed so desperately to appeal to these people and didn't know how.
He didn't need to do anything. As soon as their chariot left the gate the cameras caught sight and never let go. He thanked god for Delilah in that moment. What she did to him and what Serena's stylist did to her won them the crowd. It was only when President Snow approached the podium did the cameras leave them. He gave his usual speech, congratulating, reminding, and wishing luck, then the anthem played again and the chariots left the pavilion.
They did it. All eyes were on district seven tonight. Thank you Delilah.