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 Heal Me, I'm Heartsick, Kiva//Emmie
Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 4 2018, 08:02 PM
Quote
You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
32
Victor
Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
Rep: 0 pts



Anyone who knew Arlo could tell where his head was at just by looking at the unfinished art in his home. If he was having more good days than bad, the art was happy and tended to center around the things that made him happy: Kiva and Axel. However, if he was fighting PTSD or in emotional turmoil, his artwork became more abstract and dark, depicting the emotions that toiled within him and the lack of sleep that tended to come along with episodes of PTSD and the nightmares they were paired with.

Right now, Arlo had three unfinished pieces of artwork in his bedroom. All of them utilized dark paint and abstract images. The games were coming. The reaping was the next day. His emotions were an uncontrollable tornado of ups and downs. Mostly, however, they were downs. He was afraid, afraid his precious daughter would be reaped (just as he’d been afraid since she turned 12). He knew he could not handle mentoring her, as he’d be reliving the experience of mentoring her mother and losing her mother. He also knew he couldn’t live if he lost her, she was one of his tethers to the world, his reason for coming home and his reason for living. He’d be lost without her.

Still, there was more than fear haunting Arlo. Images of the past played out in his mind every single time he closed his eyes. Ghosts of the dead haunted his dreams, calling him out for all his failures...his failure to bring a single tribute home and his failure to bring Revaline home more than anything. The guilt he felt over her death was endless.

It was images of Revaline’s games, not his own that haunted his dreams the night before the reaping. In all honesty, Arlo had not intended to sleep. He had laid down to appease Axel and he had stared at the ceiling. Then, he’d gotten up and worked on one of his paintings to pass the time. When exhaustion hit, he’d laid down upon the couch. He hadn’t expected to close his eyes. He hadn’t intended to fall asleep. Yet, he had and one am found him thrashing on the couch, tears streaming down his face and whimpers escaping his lips, as Revaline’s ghost haunted him.
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 8 2018, 01:37 AM
Quote
The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
Rep: 0 pts


Sleep was never something that had come easy to Keva. At least not in the past few years. It didn't matter how tired she felt she would lay in her bed for hours before she finally drifted off to sleep for a couple of hours. Even when she did manage to get a full nights sleep it didn't feel any different when she woke up in the morning. She was still just as tired. So, she had just gotten used to the lack of sleep and used the free time when everyone else was sleeping to write quietly at her desk.

That was what she was doing tonight. She was sat at her desk, writing away in one of the many notebooks her father had gotten for her from the Capitol as a present. They were given notebooks for school, but they were so plain. These ones from the Capitol were decorated and she didn't have to worry about mixing her stories with notes from her classes or homework assignments.

She was deeply focused, but the sounds of thrashing and whimpers quickly drew her out of it. She frowned as she looked toward her partially open bedroom door and then set her pencil down, getting up and moving down to the living room. She looked in and sure enough she was met with the sight of her father having a nightmare. Something that broke her heart. She wished she could chase them away the same way he always seemed to manage to when she had them as a little kid.

She walked over to the couch and gently wiped some of the tears off his cheeks before she rested her hand against his cheek. "Daddy...Daddy wake up. You're okay. It's okay." she said, her voice soft and gentle, but enough to pull him from his slumber hopefully. To pull him from the depths of whatever it was he was dreaming about this time.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 8 2018, 08:57 PM
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You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
32
Victor
Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
Rep: 0 pts



Arlo had been haunted by nightmares since returning from his games fifteen years prior. Revaline’s reaping and death had only made it worse. He had survivor’s guilt and often questioned how and why he survived. Axel reassured him each time, but reassurances could not erase the guilt. Reassurances could not fix the situation at all. The games were unfair. They always had been and always would be. Children were sent to die, children like the one Revaline had been carrying when Arlo was reaped and like the one she left behind when she was murdered in the arena. The games were brutal and Arlo couldn’t help but suffer nightmares, especially when it came nearer to the reaping, when he’d have to leave behind Axel and Kiva to go to the Capitol with the next lambs for slaughter, the next kids he’d have to mentor.

Each time Arlo returned from the Capitol, he felt more despondent and broken. Still, he did his best to put on a brave face for Axel and Kiva, to smile and let them know it was okay. He did his best to reassure them with gifts from the Capitol and tales of the other victors and the heroic tributes. He was sure they knew he was full of shit, but they never called him out on it.

As a hand reached out to wipe the tears, Arlo’s whimpers only grew. Soft hands like Revaline’s. Soft and warm. Real. Still, he did not awaken, still in the throws of the dream. It was not until Kiva rested his hand against his cheek and spoke softly, but gently that Arlo woke up. He sat bolt upright with a scream. “No!” He had relived Revaline’s last moment, but as usual she had spoken, haunting words. Words that made him doubt himself and his abilities as a father. Words that made him feel as if he’d never be good enough to replace what his daughter had lost, to makeup for her lack of a mother. He was a disappointment.

Still, the moment he saw Kiva, he pulled her close to him, unable to stop the sobs that wracked his body. She was here. She was safe and whole. She was not her mother. “Kiva…” Arlo closed his eyes trying to ground himself, to get a grip on reality before he lost himself. He took in the smells, the scent of cinnamon from baking earlier in the night, the smell of paint on his hands and the scent of home. Then he took in the feelings, the coolness of the air on his bare skin and the soft hand upon his cheek. Then sounds, Kiva’s soft voice and his own breathing as it calmed. Then he opened his eyes and took in his daughter’s face. That’s when a smile graced his face. His beautiful daughter who was growing up far too fast. She always had been one of his tethers to this world and right now, that proved true once more.

“What are you doing awake, sweetpea? I hope I didn’t wake you.” Arlo always felt bad when he woke Kiva or Axel. It’s why he had been in the living room, as opposed to his room. He hadn’t wanted to wake anyone. He hadn’t wanted to force his daughter or husband to take care of him. He should be caring for them, not the other way around. “Are you alright?” Naturally, he worried. Every reaping he worried. He knew her name was only in there three times, as opposed to those who took out tesserae and had their name in there a lot more. Still, he worried. He knew if she was reaped he’d shatter completely. He didn’t think he’d be able to go on. Yet, he didn’t want HER to worry or to be afraid. He didn’t want his anxieties to rub off on her.
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 8 2018, 10:21 PM
Quote
The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
Rep: 0 pts


Kiva jumped a little when Arlo sat up and yelled out, but she didn't step away from him. She couldn't possibly step away when he was so clearly upset. She didn't know what the dream had been about, but it was clear that it wasn't good at all. Especially with the way the he pulled her in close and continued to sob.

Her arms went around him and she laid her head on his shoulder for a moment, just holding him and letting him cling on to her. She would do anything to make him feel better and if something so simple as hugging him helped right now then she was all for it. "it was just a bad dream. A really bad dream." she said softly. "I'm here and you're fine." she added. Her hand gently went moved over his back until he relaxed some and opened his eyes to look at her.

His smile made her smile. She hated seeing her father so upset and not being able to do what she felt like was enough to fix it. She could comfort him and hug him, but she would never be able to completely make the nightmares go away. She would never be able to keep him from having to deal with this and it broke her heart. At times it felt like their roles were reversed, but Kiva didn't mind. Arlo did so much for her anyway. It was only right that she gave back what comfort she could.

"You didn't wake me. I wasn't even in bed yet..." Kiva admitted. She probably should have been in bed hours ago. She would have to say goodbye to her father for two weeks in the morning and she would have to get ready to go to the reaping. Of course she was worried about it, but there wasn't anything she could do about it. If her name got picked then that was that, but...she tried not to think about it much and writing helped with that. "I'm alright. Are you alright?" she asked, tilting her head a bit. She was much more worried about him.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 8 2018, 10:53 PM
Quote
You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
32
Victor
Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
Rep: 0 pts



Arlo knew that he did not have the typical father-daughter relationship of others. He did his best. He tried to make sure Kiva never wanted for anything and always knew how much he loved her. However, he knew that he failed at being a father sometimes. The games had broken him, mind and spirit. The nightmares never ceased, especially the closer it got to the games, and so nights tended to be the worst. He hated "needing" his daughter to ground him, as she was a kid and shouldn't have that pressure on her. However, she was the reason he fought so hard to come home. She was the reason he didn't succumb to drug usage after Revaline died. She was his reason for living, for fighting the emotional turmoil he faced everyday and finding a reason to smile. Without his Kiva, his sweetpea, he would be lost and he knew it. Even Axel might have been unable to save him, should anything happen to Kiva. That is why they fought so hard to keep her safe and happy, that is why she was his little princess. She was his savior without even trying.

He clung to his daughter and sobbed. He never hid these emotional outbursts from her. He felt that she deserved to know. She deserved to see that he was human and to understand the impact that the games had on him. She was a child, but not so young anymore that she had to be sheltered. She had participated in the reaping two times already. She had to grow up somewhat and Arlo was not going to contribute to her ignorance, not when that ignorance could cost her her life should she end up being reaped. He shuddered at the thought and reached out to run a hand through her hair, to stroke her hair gently. Then he kissed her forehead. "Thank you, sweetpea. I think I'm okay now." Arlo whispered, once again kissing her forehead. She was the most precious thing to him and he was so glad to have her in his life.

Just having Kiva with him made Arlo smile. It comforted him just to have his daughter present, safe and happy. She was growing more beautiful each day and he was proud of her accomplishments, who she was becoming.

"Kiva, why weren't you in bed? It's late, isn't it?" He frowned. He hadn't thought to check on her when Axel asked him to try to get some rest. Now, he realized he should have. She needed sleep just as much as he knew he did (though he wouldn't sleep if he could help it). If she were to get reaped, a thought he once more shuddered at, she would need all the sleep she could get to even stand a chance against the others, especially the careers. He'd mentored at enough games now to know that District 6 rarely survived and had not won since his games.

"Are you sure, sweetpea?" He stroked her hair once more and kissed her forehead. Then, he let out a long sigh. The night before the reaping was always the hardest. Even if Kiva was safe, he would have to leave her and Axel for two weeks. Two weeks away from his family, from the two people who tethered him to the world. Those two weeks tended to be a struggle, but he did his best not to show it when the Capitol was watching.

"Me? You worry about me too much, Kiva. I'm okay. No different than usual, at least." That was at least true. They had gone through this process year after year. It was harder when Kiva was little, when separating from her was harder because she didn't fully understand and when he came home to questions, when she'd stolen peeks at the games and didn't understand.

"If we're both not sleeping, perhaps we should make some snacks and see if we can find something to watch or play." He wanted to savor these last few hours with his babygirl before he'd be away from her.
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 9 2018, 12:55 AM
Quote
The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
Rep: 0 pts


Kiva would have had a much harder time with her father's issues if she wasn't able to go to him when things were bothering her, but thankfully that hadn't been the case all these years. He would still comfort her when she was scared of something. He would still chase away her nightmares. There were many nights when she was younger that she had cuddled up with her dads at night instead of sleeping in her own room. She felt safer and she knew that her being there would help Arlo as well. They could be there for each other just fine.

Sure she wished that her life was a little more normal, but the poor conditions in the rest of the district were a pretty good way of making sure she knew how lucky she was to have what she had, even with the struggles. She had two loving parents and she had a home, food, clothes, and so many things that the other kids probably didn't even know existed. Here she was with the sweetest father in the world. She closed her eyes when he kissed her forehead and then smiled at him more. "Good. I couldn't just leave you crying in your sleep like that." she said quietly.

She shrugged a bit and chewed the inside of her lip when he asked why she wasn't in bed. "It is late." she confirmed. "But, I wasn't really tired so I was writing." she told him. She actually had been quite tired, but she knew that laying down to sleep would have caused her to spend the next several hours just thinking about the reaping tomorrow and even more so, thinking about Arlo being away for two whole weeks. There had been a time when she was younger that she openly cried when he had to leave. She remembered crying out for him at night. As she got older she simply got better at hiding her emotions. Him going away was still the worst part of this time of year for her, but she got by.

"Maybe you worry too much about me." She said, simply turning his statement around on him with a bit of a smile on her face to say that she was sort of teasing, but not really. She would never be able to get him to stop worrying about her, but he needed to realize that she would always worry about him as well. "I'm alright. I promise." she added. She was alright. She was nervous and sad he was going, but she was alright.

Her smile only got bigger though when he didn't send her off to bed, but instead suggested snacks and spending time together. "I would very much like that." she answered quickly.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 9 2018, 10:30 PM
Quote
You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
32
Victor
Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
Rep: 0 pts



Arlo would always put his daughter and her needs first. Since she was the reason he'd come home, made it out of the games, her needs were most important to him. She was his reason for living. He hadn't wanted to miss her birth or leave her fatherless before she came into the world. She made him fight. He doubted he'd have made it for any other reason than sheer willpower and luck, having something worth fighting for. That is the advice he always gave his tributes too, remember what you were fighting for. The careers trained for this and while they had families and a life, just like everyone else...those in the lower districts did not choose this and he tended to think that made them fight harder to get home to those they loved and their reasons for living. That, paired with fear, is a powerful thing.

"Thank you. I appreciate it, though I could have handled it." They both knew, however, that had she not woken him up the nightmare would have continued. Arlo's nightmares were real. They were memories. He relived so much each time he closed his eyes, with very few nights in which nightmares did not strike. Axel and Kiva both knew to wake him and they both were able to ground him and calm him. It is when he did not have them that he struggled. It is when he was alone that he ended up with dark circles under his eyes from sleep avoidance. Arlo kissed his daughter's forehead a second time and cupped her cheeks in his hands. "When did you grow up?" He still saw his daughter as the baby he held in his arms and the little girl who cried when he left and who he was constantly reassuring that he would come home, that he had already gone in the games and was not going to leave her. Wild horses could not keep him away, keep him from coming home to his daughter. Even if she was becoming a young lady now and was no longer the tiny little girl with the big blue eyes peering up at him.

"Writing anything good?" Arlo looked at his daughter with pride. While art was his solace, he knew his daughter had taken joy in writing. Writing comforted her and seemed to be something that she was quite skilled at. "I was painting before I fell asleep." Arlo told his daughter, motioning to the canvas on the easel. The painting was abstract, as were most pieces that dealt with his emotions as opposed to the more concrete work he did on good days. Those who knew him well could probably read the emotions in the strokes and colors of his emotional artwork, but to others they would be a mystery.

"I guess we could say we worry too much about eachother but I somehow doubt either of us are going to change. Honestly, I think that is what makes us such a strong family, we love one another so much that worrying about one another is natural." Arlo strived to be the best father he could be and to protect his daughter as best he could. He had grown up without parents. Yes, he had a mother until he was 13, but she had never really taken care of him and more often than not he was alone while she pimped herself out for money and came home at all hours of the night, higher than heaven. He took care of her then. He didn't want Kiva taking care of him the same way. He understood he was "broken" and needed comfort and needed reassurance. However, he did not want his daughter to feel as if she was alone, without a father taking care of her just as much and loving her just as much. He wanted to ensure he was the father AND mother that he never had and that he felt his little girl needed.

"Okay. What snacks do you want to make and what would you like to do? It's your night, sweetpea. We can do whatever you want." They could watch a movie, play a game, do anything she wanted...even if it was a late night walk or something else. She could have anything she wanted. He would do it, especially because this time would be precious to him while he was away.
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 11 2018, 11:31 PM
Quote
The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
Rep: 0 pts


Kiva knew that what he was said wasn't true. He couldn't have handled the nightmares on his own because he was asleep and he was trapped in them. That was how nightmares worked. She had, had her fair share and knew that when they happened you felt stuck and hopeless. Even once you managed to wake yourself up from them, if you were left all on your own, you just continued to think about them and be upset. The fear, pain, or sadness transferred over into the waking world. She couldn't imagine what that would be like after everything that he had gone through.

"I'm happy to help you though." Kiva said softly, smiling a bit at him. It was true. She was always happy and willing to help her father feel better where she could. It was the very least that she could do for him. When he asked her when did she grow up she just gave the tiniest of shrugs. "I'm not little anymore. I'm a teenager." she said simply. She had grown up a bit before then though. She had been forced to and that honestly was just the nature of their world. That was how things worked in the districts of Panem. Kids had to grow up quickly to deal with all the shitty cards they were dealt.

She shrugged a bit. "I am not sure how I feel about it right now." she answered in regards to her story. The one that she was working on right now wasn't one that she had shared with Arlo. It had involved a young girl searching for her mother and well, it just didn't feel right to be sharing it with him. She looked toward his paintings and she could see it. She could see his pain and sadness in them and she hugged him a bit. "Good thing you didn't fall asleep with a brush in your hand. You'd have paint all over." she said jokingly to try and lighten the mood.

She nodded in agreement though and kissed his cheek. "Loving someone is what makes you worry about them. I will always worry about you and I will worry about dad too." she said with a shrug. If Axel were upset about something or hurting or anything of course she would worry about him too. They were a tight little family and there was so much love that worry just came naturally and it would never change. Kiva wouldn't be able to stop worrying about them even if she wanted to and she was sure that it was the same for the two of them.

"Can we make cookies and have cookies and chocolate milk?" Kiva asked, looking up at him with a grin. That was her favorite snack, even if it generally wasn't a very good snack for the middle of the night when you already couldn't sleep. It was the night before the reaping though and the night before Arlo had to leave for a couple weeks so what would it hurt to enjoy it one night? It was also one of those snacks that the other kids in six could only dream of having, if they even knew such delicacies existed. "And then we can watch a movie?" she asked after thinking for a moment.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 12 2018, 04:34 PM
Quote
You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
32
Victor
Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
Rep: 0 pts



Honestly, the only thing that truly soothed Arlo’s nightmares when he was in them and helped him to sleep was Axel’s gentle voice singing softly to him. Axel’s voice had a magical effect on the victor, helping to ease his worries and fears. It could help him fall asleep and stop the thrashing from the nightmares. There was a reason he loved the man and part of that reason was the sheer comfort of his presence and the understanding that the man who started out as his best friend but later became his lover provided. Arlo needed Axel. Without the man, as well as his daughter, Arlo doubted he’d still be around today victor or not. The world would have been too helpless for Arlo to continue on without Axel and Kiva.

Arlo nodded. “Well, I’m glad that you do. I’m glad to have you. I’d be lost without you and Dad. The two of you give me a reason to keep living...to be here.” They gave him a reason to fight through the nightmares and demons of the past. They gave him a reason not to get lost in addiction or to actively seek death. “Honestly, Kiva, I doubt I would be here if not for you two. You are everything to me.” Sometimes, Arlo thought he was too honest with his daughter. However, he also didn’t want to shelter her from every bit of bad in the world. She needed to know the reality of Panem and District 6. She deserved to know what could happen to her, to any of them and that no one, not even her father, was perfect. They had all of the luxuries that they did because of the cost for Arlo, what he’d suffered through.

“I know...it’s just sometimes I still think of you as the little baby I held in my arms in...well...better times, in some ways, the baby who saved my life. Then, I think of you as the little child I told stories to and painted the scenes we talked about. I still see you as the tiny thing that used to ride on my shoulders and climb into bed with Dad and I.” Arlo actually smiled as he thought about when Kiva was a baby, toddler and little child. She really had brought a lot of Arlo’s joy to his life in a time when nothing else could make the man smile or laugh. She created a life for Arlo and he looked on those memories fondly, even if he knew that Kiva probably wished for a mother sometimes. He tried to be both, alongside Arlo. She had two parents, but the Capitol had stolen her mother.

Arlo nodded. “Well, if you need someone to look it over, you know I will. That is...if I’m home. If not, when I get home you know I will.” He was being 100% honest. He supported his child. She was luckier than most, lucky enough that due to his victor status she never had to want for anything. She would never have to worry about working to make money and she could actually write for the enjoyment of. Hell, if she were lucky maybe he could slip her book to a publisher in the Capitol. He wouldn’t mention that right now though, he knew she needed to develop as a writer first and that she’d need to be okay with him doing that.

Arlo actually chuckled softly at Kiva’s words. “Oh there’d be paint all over the couch and all over me. I’d have a whole new look!” He joked, smiling once again at his daughter. She knew how to make him smile, no one could deny that when they saw them together.

“We will always worry about you too, we love you.” He prayed that the Capitol wouldn’t take Kiva from him. Not now. Not ever. A few more years and the reaping would be over, they’d never have to worry about her being reaped again, she’d be safe and Arlo would be the only victim of the Capitol. He’d take the punishment for all of them, as Axel and Kiva didn’t deserve it, they suffered enough alongside Arlo.

Arlo nodded. “I think we can manage that. I know I have the ingredients. What type of cookies do you want, sweetpea?” He loved baking with his daughter and then cuddling up to watch a movie and eat the baked goods. Arlo knew it was not the healthiest of meals, but that didn’t matter. Right now the joy and happiness on his daughter’s face was most important. He needed to etch it into his mind for the long weeks ahead, weeks away from those who kept him alive. He needed to remember these moments to get him through. “That sounds like a perfect plan to me, I’m sure Dad will be glad for some cookies tomorrow.” Comfort food for the two being left behind for a few weeks. A cold comfort, he was sure, but comfort food just the same.
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 12 2018, 10:00 PM
Quote
The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
Rep: 0 pts


Kiva gave a sad sort of look toward him when he admitted that he didn't think he would be here without Axel and her. She just hugged him a little bit tighter and shook her head. "Well we don't have to worry about that...or think about that because we aren't going anywhere." she promised him. She never wanted to have to leave her father. The reaping wasn't something she let herself get too worked up about, but if she were ever chosen then she would crumble. Just as he would. She wouldn't be able to make it out like he did...she knew that and it was just easier to not think about it much.

All she could do was stand there and smile when he recounted his memories of her when she was younger. Some of those things she remembered and others she didn't, but the most important thing was the way that he smiled and the love in his voice as he spoke. "I mean, you could try to hold me on your shoulders still...but I don't think the bed is big enough for the three of us anymore." she said with a laugh, trying to bring some of the seriousness out of the mood.

"And thanks, Daddy." she added. Most of her stories she let him read, but there were ones that she always just kept to herself for various reasons. This was one of those, but she still appreciated his offer and that he was so supportive of the things she liked. There were a lot of kids around six that she knew didn't even know how to write their own names. She was so lucky.

She giggled some when he laughed. "I don't think you'd look good with paint all over you. It's not a new look that you should strive for." she said with a laugh. "I love you so, so much." she added to really get her point across about how much she loved him.

She made her way into the kitchen with him, grinning more when he agreed to her suggestion. "Definitely chocolate chip." They were classic and they were her absolute favorite since the first time they had made them together. Plus the cookie dough alone was fantastic. She moved to get out some of the bowls and measuring cups for them. "He will have a nice surprise. If the smell doesn't wake him up." she agreed.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 13 2018, 05:09 PM
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You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
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Shaney
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Arlo nodded at his daughter’s words. He hoped to hell that Axel and Kiva weren’t going anywhere. He’d already almost lost Axel once. He wasn’t going to let that happen again, not when he’d paid good money and pulled all the strings he needed to in order to keep Axel alive. He couldn’t go anywhere and neither could Kiva. If Kiva was reaped, that would be the end. It was one of Arlo’s worst nightmares and he hoped to hell that they would get through the next four years without it happening. He tried his hardest not to consider it, but it was hard when he struggled with nightmares and was at the reaping, itself, staring at his daughter in the crowd. He hoped like hell that she would never be reaped and this would all be a fear of the past in a few years.

Arlo’s smile actually widened as Kiva joked about him trying to put her on his shoulders now. The fact is, he probably could. He was a physically strong man, a far cry from the child he’d been when Axel and Kiva’s mother met him, and he was tall. He could easily support his daughter’s weight and he was certain he’d enjoy it too. “Oh I could make the shoulder thing happen, if you wanted, sweetpea...but unless we get a bigger bed, I agree with you on that.” Trying to fit the two grown men and teenage girl in their bed was impossible and comical to think about. It made Arlo chuckle. As usual, Kiva brought out the best in him and it showed when his smile reached his eyes, something it never did when he was away from her or in the Capitol. The surest way to tell his real smiles from those he faked was to look into his baby blues. Kiva always left them shining.

“You’re welcome, sweetpea.” He kissed her forehead once more. He truly was supportive and proud of the things she accomplished. She was doing better than most in 6, which he knew was because of him in some ways. He suffered through the games, but he’d survived. Now, Arlo could gladly say that it was worth it every time he looked at his daughter and celebrated her successes.

“What you don’t think I should make a new fashion statement?” Arlo joked, pointing to his canvas and paints. He then reached out to grab a brush and pretend he was painting himself. “I could be a walking, talking work of art!” Arlo was cracking jokes, smiling and laughing. This was truly the magic of fatherhood, of his daughter. No one else could make this happen, at least not like this. No one else could get him to loosen up and crack jokes, to show traces of the boy he was before the games. Only Kiva. Even Axel, his husband, couldn’t bring out this exact reaction. This was fatherhood. This was caring more about the life left in your hands than your own life. This was truly the bond between father and daughter.

Arlo nodded at Kiva’s words. “Chocolate chip it is. To the kitchen we go!” With that, a mischievous smirk crossed Arlo’s face and he easily scooped his daughter up and placed her on his shoulders. “See, I STILL have it!” Then, he was rushing into the kitchen with Kiva on his shoulders, smiling as he looked up at her. She was his happiness and reason for living and these were the moments he lived for, the silly moments that made life worth living.

Once in the kitchen, Arlo lifted Kiva off his shoulders and put her back on the ground. He couldn’t easily gather the ingredients with the extra weight and height. He didn’t want Kiva to bump her head because he wasn’t careful. Still, the moment of silliness had done his spirit well and his smile turned sad for a moment as he began thinking about how much Revaline would have laughed to see such a moment. That moment was fleeting, however, and the genuine smile returned and he looked to Kiva.

As Arlo began to pull ingredients, bowls and cookie sheets out of the cabinets, he launched into a story. He liked to do that sometimes, as he felt Kiva deserved to know about his past, the good and the bad. “You know, Kiva, I was not always the man before you. When your Dad and mother met me...well, I was a shrimpy little thing who was getting his ass handed to him daily because he never knew when to back down from a fight. We were all 6 years old and I was on the ground of some alleyway trying to get up and keep fighting off these bullies. Your Dad and mother saved my ass. They fought beside me after that too! We were inseperable!” The one thing Arlo had never shown Kiva was the footage of his games. He was glad he’d made it home. However, he wasn’t proud of what he’d done to survive, of the moments that haunted him. He could, however, talk about his childhood with smiles and laughter. Hell, he was sure he had pictures of his scrappy self as a kid, Arlo and Kiva’s mother beside him. That is how they’d met and how their bond formed. Arlo loved Revaline first and now his heart beat for Axel.

"I am convinced your Dad can sleep through a bomb going off if he wanted to." Arlo joked. Honestly, he woke Axel often enough that he knew that wasn't true. Still, he hoped that maybe his husband would get a good night's sleep tonight.
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 20 2018, 02:51 PM
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The Struggle is Part of The Story
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Kiva laughed a bit. "You really think you could still put me up on your shoulders?" she asked curiously. "And, I like having my big bed all to myself." she added. It was big enough that she could sprawl out on it and also had room for all her stuffed animals that she had collected over the years from Arlo going to the Capitol. They were her absolute favorite toys and her absolute favorite souvenirs. They were soft and cuddly and so cute. If only she could see the animals that they actually replicated. It was also big enough for Arlo or Axel to join her if needed as well, though as she had gotten older she asked for them to lay down with her for a bit less and less, but she still had her moments.

She briefly closed her eyes and gave the softest of smiles at the kiss on her forehead. Forehead kisses were another of her most favorite things in the world. They just felt like they held the most love. She opened her eyes again when he made her giggle. "I mean, maybe a different new fashion statement. You'd just look messy and a little crazy if you had paint all over you." she said with a grin. She was always so pleased when she could make her father smile and laugh and joke around. It made her realize that everything was okay. The no matter how sad and dark things could get, that there would always be light still there and she knew how to produce it.

She squealed happily when Arlo scooped her up and set her on his shoulders. She gently held onto him so she wouldn't fall. "I guess you do!" she said through her laughter as he moved off to the kitchen. She made sure to duck when needed, because she was quite tall when she was on Arlo, even if she wasn't when she was just standing on her own.

Once on the ground again she put all the bowls and measuring tools on the counter, listening to Arlo tell the story of how he met her mother and Axel. How they had saved him from some bullies and were the best of friends. It was something that Kiva wished she could find. Friends like that would do her some good, but right now she didn't have many and she wasn't sure she would actually get any anytime soon. "Mom and Dad are good people." she said with a sweet smile. "I'd like to think I would do the same if I came across someone getting bullied like you." she added. Yet, she was the one usually at the receiving end of all that.

"If you are sure." She added at the mention of Axel being able to sleep through a bomb. She was quiet for a moment before she looked over to him. "Daddy...will you tell me more about what mom was like?" she asked. It wasn't a question she generally asked. She just took what information was given to her at his own discretion. "Do you think she would have liked me?" she added, tilting her head slightly.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 20 2018, 08:21 PM
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You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
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Arlo shook his head with a smile as Kiva questioned his strength. “What do you think, I’m weak? I’m not the scrappy little kid I was when I met Dad and Mom. I’m strong and I don’t just THINK I could put you on my shoulders, I KNOW I can.” Arlo’s tone was relaxed, he was in good spirits now despite the earlier nightmares and he was jesting. This was the impact his sweet and beautiful little girl had on him. “Well, I don’t think any of us would sleep if we shared a bed. I already feel bad I keep Dad up some nights.” The second set of words were a bit more serious, but Arlo didn’t want to dwell on them. Kiva had successfully put him in a good mood and he wasn’t going to let himself be pulled back to dark thoughts and memories. He was going to anchor himself to this moment, the here and now.

“Maybe I AM messy and crazy, hm?” Arlo smirked at his daughter, a sign of his mischievous younger years, before the games broke him. He was healing and traces of who he was before Kiva was born and he went into the games often surfaced around her. Arlo reached over to his paints and lifted a bottle, playfully. “I wouldn’t want to waste my paint though, not for a fashion statement. After all, I think I look pretty damn sexy just the way I am. I know Dad would agree.” He winked then too. He knew that Kiva probably wouldn’t want to agree that he was “sexy” and would probably find it gross. Still, the joke was there and he laughed once more too.

“See! I told you I was strong enough and still had it in me!” These were truly the moments that Arlo lived for. These were the moment he felt most alive and free. He often sketched these memories when he was stuck in the Capitol without Kiva and Axel. He sketched the moments that kept him alive, that made him love life and desire to keep on living it. They helped him through the harder times.

He watched his daughter as she spoke, nodding. “I know you would, sweetpea.” He had no doubt that his daughter would stick up for those being bullied. What he didn’t know, however, was that she was bullied. “Mom and Dad saved me a lot of more permanent damage. The thing about me is...I never gave up. I could be outnumbered and overpowered, but I’d fight until I physically couldn’t. They evened the odds out for me, made sure I didn’t have to do that. At least not alone.” He smiled just remembering it. It may just be Axel and Arlo now, but he imagined they’d still be a force to be reckoned with...even with their “handicaps” now that they were older and had suffered some.

Arlo had just begun to measure out the flour when Kiva asked about her mother. He froze for a moment, closing his eyes and taking in her words. He knew the day would come. He always had known. He just wasn’t prepared for it right now. Still, he could never deny Kiva anything, not even this. He understood she was a teenager now and this was a time where she probably really needed a mom. He wished he could give that to her, but he’d failed to bring her mom home and now it was Axel and himself that she had.

“Of course, sweetpea.” Arlo put the bag of flour down and moved closer to his daughter, looking at her. “You look more like her everyday. I can tell you that much. I think she’d have loved you, Kiva. Your mother was just as excited as I was to have you. She loved you the moment she held you and she loved you until the moment she died, I know it. I….I saw it. She made me promise that I wouldn’t let you forget that and I’m not going to. She wanted you and she loved you. She would love braiding your hair, as I do, and she’d love baking with you like this. She’d be proud of the beautiful young woman you’re becoming to.” Arlo did his best to keep his voice steady, to keep calm. The last thing he wanted was to fall apart here and now, especially when he’d been doing so well.

“What else do you want to know?”
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 24 2018, 11:01 PM
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The Struggle is Part of The Story
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Kiva shook her head at him. "Of course I don't think you are weak. I just think that I have grown quite a bit." she commented, laughing some. The amount of new clothes that she had needed to get over the past two years or so really showed the growth spurt that she had been going through. Though she had been a tiny girl when she was younger and even now she was still on the shorter side, though she was better filled out than her classmates who she knew didn't get much to eat. "I already don't sleep." she added with a simple shrug. There wasn't even a reason for it that she could figure out. She didn't suffer the terrible nightmares and it wasn't Arlo who woke her. It was just something she was super bad at.

"I won't let you be messy, not all the time, and you ARE crazy." Kiva told him, giggling a bit. She definitely didn't mean it in the ways that it could probably truly be applied to him sometimes. In regards to cleanliness Kiva was the type of person who did the dishes for her parents or swept floors and cleaned up without having to be asked. She could happily play outside and get dirty, so long as she could shower and change quickly after, but otherwise she wanted to be clean and she wanted her surroundings clean.

She looked horrified at his comment about being sexy though. "Ewww. Daaad! You can't say stuff like that." she said, shaking her quickly. It was definitely a teenager response. No one ever wanted to hear anyone say that their parents were sexy, especially not their parent themselves.

But once she was up on his shoulders she forgot all about it in an instant. It really took her back to when she was just a little thing riding on her dad's shoulders because it made her feel so much taller and it meant she didn't have to walk. She wished that she would never be too big to ride on his shoulders, but eventually there would come a day when they couldn't do this anymore. For now she would enjoy every second of it though.

"I don't want to have to fight anyone whether I have friends helping me or not. I wish people didn't have to pick on other people. It gets...really old, really fast." She said quietly. She didn't talk to her dads much about what happened at school with the other kids. She didn't want to put that on them and it wasn't like they could do anything about it anyway. Anything they tried would likely just make the kids go after her more.

She listened to what Arlo had to say about her mother and how she would have loved Kiva and loved to do all sorts of things with her. All of them sounded like the things that Kiva wished she had her mother for at times. Arlo and Axel did amazing at parenting her and loving her and everything, but...especially now, she really felt the hole where her mother should have been.

Kiva chewed the inside of her lip as she tried to keep from crying herself and she just shook her head when Arlo asked what else she wanted to know. "That was it." she said quietly. At least for now that was it. Baby steps to asking these questions seemed best for the both of them. She simply stepped closer and wrapped her arms around Arlo. "I love you, daddy." she said softly.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 26 2018, 06:58 PM
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You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
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Arlo chuckled and shook his head. “Well, I guarantee I can still get you up on my shoulders.” He would try it too, when the moment was right. For now he took in Kiva’s next words, sighing. He didn’t know how to really feel about them. He knew they were true. There were many nights where the two of them found themselves awake like this. There were also many nights when Axel was awake right with them and the entire family spent the wee hours of the morning together. Still, he hated that reality, knowing that sleep was important, even if they all struggled with it. “I’m sorry, Kiva. I wish I could help you sleep, but you aren’t small enough to sleep with us anymore and honestly...I think it’d be a bit weird now, don’t you?” Unless something were wrong or a nightmare occurred, the thought of his beautiful daughter who was less a child and more of a teenager now sharing a bed with he and Axel was a bit odd.

“Yeah, I know you won’t because you hate when things are messy and you always have.” Kiva had been doing her chores and cleaning things up since she was a small child without complaint. Arlo knew she didn’t like being messy or when things got messy. However, living with two men messes happened, especially when Arlo was having a rough patch. She might not know about his battle with morphling, as Axel and he had tried to shield her from it, but she might know what those times looked like. Things were always a bit messier and more neglected during those times.

Arlo chuckled at Kiva’s reaction to his comment. “Why? I can’t be the sexy dad?” Arlo’s voice relayed the fact that he was completely and utterly joking. He knew that it was “uncool” for parents to say such things in a teenagers world. However, he was amused at the rise he’d gotten out of his daughter and he couldn’t help but continue the joke.

Arlo couldn’t help but smile as he put Kiva on his shoulders and moved about the kitchen. There was a time when she was always traveling on his shoulders. Despite the toll the games had taken on him mentally, he was physically intact. Axel had more physical struggles. Arlo had more mental. They balanced one another out nicely and supported one another. However, it was always his shoulders that Kiva seemed to end up on. He remembered toting her to the market and to visit Axel at the garage this way. Now, she was much taller but he could still do it.

“Well, unfortunately it seems that bullying is one thing that doesn’t change. Dad and I both had our share of them. Though, when we teamed up they stopped messing with us completely. I was the kid too brave to give up, or stupid I guess, and Dad was the muscle. We have always balanced one another out, I think.” Arlo had never realized that. Their entire life he and Axel balanced one another out and it all started with a scrappy, skinny little Arlo and a larger, more physically capable Axel. They had become a team then and now, well, things might be different but they still balanced one another out. A smile came to Arlo’s face just thinking about his husband and how much he loved him and always had.

Arlo nodded as she said that was it. However, he wasn’t quite done speaking. He knew that Kiva wanted a mother, that it was the one thing he and Axel could not provide her with. It broke his heart to admit it, but it was the truth. “Kiva, I’m so sorry I couldn’t bring her home to you…” Arlo stated, trying not to let the tears forming in his eyes fall. He had tried so hard to be strong and to be a good mentor, but Revaline hadn’t stood a chance in her games. She was dead the moment her name was called. Sometimes, Arlo wondered if Kiva would be better off if she had been the victor and not him. However, he tried not to think that way.

As Kiva stepped closer and wrapped her arms around Arlo, he did the same to her and kissed her forehead. “You really do look more and more like her though, Kiva. You’re beautiful, just like she was and I know she’d be proud of you...but I am proud of you. I...I think you are my masterpiece, one of the few things I think I actually may have gotten right in this world.”
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