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 It's Okay To Struggle, Life Is A Struggle, Attn. Shaney
Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 27 2018, 02:21 PM
Quote
The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
Rep: 0 pts


Kiva often struggled to get along with the other kids at school simply because they saw her as different, as an outsider who couldn't possibly understand the struggles that they faced daily. She actually had two parents who loved her. She had a house that didn't leak when it rained and was filled with more toys and luxury items than they could ever dream of. She never went hungry and the food she brought for lunch wasn't the same bland, often old food that the other kids were given. That was the reason for their bullying today.

When it came time for lunch she realized that her lunch was missing from her bag. It wasn't exactly shocking that someone would have taken it and she figured she would just have to wait until she got home to eat something. What was surprising was being cornered at recess and being forced to eat food from one of the other kids. According to them she should have to eat like them for a day, to see how awful it was and if she refused they were going to rip up pages from one of her journals. Her stories she loved and worked so hard on would be trashed...so she ate the food and it was awful.

That was that. At least they gave her journal back and she went about the rest of the day, thankful when it was finally time to go home. She went straight home and dropped her stuff off in her room before simply going to spend time with the puppy that Arlo had brought home for them after the last games. It was the perfect way to take her mind off things and really it helped her a lot with the things she had been struggling with. It was a welcome distraction and she knew she could rely on her little ball of fluff to love her.

She managed to put on her happy face for her parents and enjoyed their evening together, though she found herself actually tired for once as it got later. She said goodnight to both of them and took the little pup up to sleep with her in her room. She snuggled up in bed with the little critter and she was actually out like a light for once and she managed to sleep quite soundly for a couple.

Then she was woken up by a sharp pain through her abdomen. At first she thought maybe it was the same issue as she had when Arlo was gone, but this pain felt different and she didn't feel good. She was cold, she was tired, and she felt a bit like she was going to be sick. She tried just curling up into a ball and going back to sleep., but then she felt it getting worse. She got out of bed slowly and went to sit on the floor in the bathroom for a bit before she finally ended up throwing up.

The puppy had followed, staying by her side and laying her head on Kiva's leg as she sat back and leaned against the wall for a moment after she had been sick. She reached to gently pet her some, thinking. She didn't want to go wake Arlo and Axel if they were both managing to sleep well. She didn't want to bother either of them, but...she hadn't felt so sick in years and she just wanted someone.

It took about fifteen minutes and another bout of throwing up before she decided that she wanted Arlo. She got to her feet slowly and walked to his and Axel's room, peeking in before she actually moved inside and gently shook him. "Daddy..." she said quietly. "Daddy will you get up with me?" she asked hesitantly.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 27 2018, 05:42 PM
Quote
You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
32
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Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
Rep: 0 pts



Arlo's days after returning from the Capitol tended to be spent savoring time with his family. Naturally, Kiva had to get back to school, but his time waiting for her return was spent with Axel. Sometimes, he went to the garage with Axel, helping where he could. As a victor, he didn't need to work but he did like to keep himself busy. Time alone with his thoughts tended to trigger negative thoughts or PTSD episodes. So, keeping busy was what Arlo did best. If he didn't go to the garage with Axel, he kept busy painting or working on "home improvement" projects like painting a room in the house or redecorating. He found ways to keep busy. Plus, now they had a puppy to train and care for, which also helped to pass the time.

Today, Axel had gone to the garage and Arlo had remained home. He'd filled the long hours without his husband or daughter with art. He'd begun to pain a mural on the wall in the living room. His family spent a lot of time in this room and he figured spicing it up would make the room more comfortable for them all. He decided on a colorful sunset. He spent the entire day on the painting, forgetting to even stop to eat, but by the time his family was home it was done and he'd gotten dinner on the table, waiting.

Kiva, however, had passed on dinner and gone to her room. Arlo had worried, naturally, as it wasn't like her to do such a thing, but he knew she needed her space and that the puppy was with her. The puppy followed Kiva around whenever she was home, which he was grateful for since he'd gotten it for them all (but especially Kiva).

When Arlo went to check on Kiva, she was sleeping. Since sleep was something she struggled with, he didn't want to wake her up. So, he'd returned to the table and had dinner alone with Axel. Then, he'd sat with him, cuddling and talking until they were both ready for bed.

Arlo fell asleep to Axel's beautiful singing voice and he actually hadn't begun to have a nightmare when he felt hands shaking him. Arlo bolted upright, panicked for a moment. Once his eyes fell on Kiva, however, he relaxed taking in her words and nodding. "Of course. What time is it, sweetpea? Are you alright?" His words were whispered, as he swung his legs over the bed, stretching before standing beside his daughter. Something about her didn't look right and that worried Arlo. Kiva was older now, an easy child to care for, but when she asked for something like this he knew something was wrong and he always wanted to fix it.

Arlo reached out to place a hand on his daughter's forehead. It felt warm to touch and that only made him frown more. "You're warm, baby." He put an arm around her and lead her back to the bathroom. That's when the smell hit him. "Did you get sick?" He went into the medicine cabinet for the thermometer, looking his daughter over. She really didn't look right. Her face was flushed and she just generally seemed off, he couldn't explain it any other way.
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 27 2018, 06:09 PM
Quote
The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
Rep: 0 pts


Kiva immediately felt guilty when she realized that she had startled him. He had been sleeping so well at the moment and she should have just let him sleep. She should have just dealt with this on her own. She was old enough, but...she would never be too old to want comfort from her daddy when she wasn't feeling well. She was being selfish though in her mind, but it was too late now that he was awake.

"It's like...1:30 I think."Kiva answered quietly, not really sure of the exact time. She had only glanced at it fast when she first woke up and it had been about one in the morning at that point. She wasn't sure how to answer his question about being alright though. She was alright and she could have just let him sleep...she should have just let him sleep, but she also wasn't alright and she just wanted him. "Not really." she added.

He reached out and placed his hand to her forehead and she wasn't surprised when she said she was warm. She felt feverish. She was shivering like she was cold, but she also just felt horrible and warm too. She leaned against him when he put his arm around her and walked back to the bathroom with him, sighing a bit when he asked if she had gotten sick. "Twice." she answered sadly.

She tiredly leaned against him again, taking the thermometer from him when he got it out of the medicine cabinet, doing it and then handing it back to him when it had beeped. It wasn't terribly high at least, but she definitely had a fever. "I'm sorry I woke you up." she said softly. "I just..."

Kiva couldn't help, but feel like she shouldn't have woke him up even though he had gotten up so willingly. She was well aware that both her dads would do anything for her. That they loved her and wanted to help her. It was just that she didn't want to make things harder for them. So waking Arlo up from decent sleep felt so wrong, but she desperately didn't want to be alone right now. She wanted to be snuggled, comforted, and loved. "I just really, really don't feel well." she mumbled, burying her face against him.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 27 2018, 07:35 PM
Quote
You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
32
Victor
Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
Rep: 0 pts



Arlo would do anything for his daughter. When she was little, her needs came before his own. Axel had often reminded him of his obligation to her and that had often pulled him from the darkest moments. He loved her more than life itself and he had fought to come home, to raise her. So, despite the fact he'd actually been sleeping soundly, the moment he knew Kiva needed him he was out of that bed and looking her over with worry. She was his life.

Arlo nodded when she said the time, running a hand threw his hair. He'd gotten a few solid hours of good sleep. That was rare but he actually felt well rested. Still, he couldn't go back to sleep if he wanted to now because he was far too worried about his baby girl. She did not look good. She was sweating yet shivering and he could tell that she was sick, even if she hadn't told him yet. When she confirmed that she was not alright, he nodded once again. "I could tell, but I'm glad you didn't try to lie and say you were alright." She'd done that before, Arlo knew it. Honestly, he knew she did it a lot. Call it a father's intuition but as hard as she tried to hide her tears and struggles, he knew they happened. He was just trying to give her the freedom to come to him or Axel when she needed to, not to force her to tell him.

Arlo just kept his arm around her as they walked. It seemed she needed it and he would never deny her anything she needed, regardless of the reasoning. "Do you feel like you're going to get sick again? I can get one of the garbage pails if you don't want to camp out in here tonight." Arlo knew that camping out in the bathroom was hardly fun. If she was going to spend the night sick, he would get a garbage pail so that they could sit in the living room and he could take care of her.

Arlo looked at the thermometer when it beeped and she handed it back to him. She had a fever, just as he suspected. It wasn't high enough to be dangerous, but it was there. Lucky for his daughter, he had a well stocked medicine cabinet. That was one of the perks of being a victor, their pantry and cabinets were never empty. Plus, due to his trips to the capitol he was able to pick up things that weren't readily available in the district. Right now he pulled out a bottle of fever medicine. That should keep her fever from rising any higher. "Let's go get some water and then you can take one of these." Arlo told her. "Water will be good anyway, as we don't want you getting dehydrated."

As Kiva buried her face against him, Arlo held her close and kissed the top of her head. He knew she needed comfort and he'd do anything he could to give it. "Well, I've got you sweetpea. I'm going to take care of you." Arlo told her, kissing the top of her head once more and hugging her close. "Do you wanna go sit in the living room? I painted it today while you were at school and Dad was at the garage."
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 27 2018, 10:56 PM
Quote
The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
Rep: 0 pts


Kiva gave a tiny nod when he said that he could tell, but he was glad she hadn't lied about it. Generally when Kiva lied about feeling unwell it was little things. A headache, a sore throat, or a bit of a stomachache. This she wasn't going to lie about, not when she had been willing to go and wake him and she was sure he would have noticed as soon as he saw her that she was unwell.

"I don't want to sleep in here." Kiva said quietly. "But I still feel like I am going to be sick." she answered, though at least it wasn't like she felt like it was going to happen immediately. She was just quite positive that it wasn't over. She wanted to go and curl up on the couch with him instead of sleeping on the hard bathroom floor though for sure.

She was always thankful for all of the things that they had in the house thanks to Arlo being a victor. She always had medicine when she needed it, she always had good food, not like the food she had been given earlier that was not at all good and had managed to give her food poisoning, and she had good clothes for all the seasons. It was why she lacked friends though. So it was both a blessing and a curse in a way.. "Water will be nice. I am actually thirsty." she said quietly. She just hoped that she would be able to keep that and the medicine down long enough for it to work well.

Kiva closed her eyes for a moment as she was hugged and Arlo kissed the top of her head. It was amazing how much better just being loved by someone could make you feel when you were sick. Sure, it didn't take away any of the yucky feeling or the chills or anything like that, but it was doing something important that medicine simply wouldn't be able to do.

"Thanks, Daddy." She said quietly before nodding and moving away from him enough so that they could start walking. She wrapped herself around his arm a bit so she could still hold onto him. "Yeah, I want to go to the living room. You painted it?" she asked quietly. "I can't wait to see." she added, moving from the bathroom and downstairs with him, the little pup bouncing along behind them.

Once downstairs she did let go of Arlo so he could get one of the garbage pails and the water. She just went to the couch, settling down on it with the puppy cuddled up next to her. Her eyes then went to the beautiful mural that Arlo had painted earlier in the day. It was definitely pleasant to look at right now.

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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 29 2018, 07:53 AM
Quote
You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
32
Victor
Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
Rep: 0 pts



Arlo nodded at her words. Then, he pulled her close. He hated when she was sick. Illnesses were something he couldn’t protect her from and other than offering medicine and waiting it out with her, he couldn’t make it better either. He hated that helpless feeling. It reminded him of when Revaline was reaped, of her games...of how helpless he was to keep her alive. Arlo shuddered at the thought and did his best to focus on Kiva, not the dark places his mind was threatening to go. Kiva needed him. He kissed her forehead once more, focusing on the feeling of his lips on her warm skin, her scent, the feel of her in his arms. She was grounding to him and within moments he was back to reality, as if his momentary slip up never even happened.

“Okay, then we’ll get some water. You have to make sure to sip it slowly though, as if you drink it too fast it will likely make you sick, okay?” Arlo didn’t want his daughter to drink so fast she was sick. He knew what it was like to have a stomach bug or food poisoning. He wanted to do his best to make her feel better as quickly as possible.

“Do you have any idea what made you sick, sweetpea? Did any of the other kids at school have a stomach bug? Did you eat something funny? I mean, I know Dad and I sent you with lunch, but do you think it went bad?” Arlo wasn’t quite sure where this sudden illness had come from, but he hated his daughter looking and sounding so miserable.

Arlo kept an arm around his daughter, letting her keep hold of him as they went downstairs. Only when she let him go get the garbage pail did he move from her. However, as soon as he got that and put it within her reach on the floor, he was settling beside her on the couch and opening his arms if she wanted to curl up in them like she had when she was little. “So...what do you think?” Arlo asked, regarding the mural he saw his daughter staring at. He hoped she liked it. He’d painted the mural to bring some cheer to the living room, a place where the entire family spent a lot of time together. "Is it good enough to get one of those amazing Kiva smiles I love so much?"
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jun 30 2018, 09:11 PM
Quote
The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
Rep: 0 pts


Kiva gave a tiny nod when he mentioned that she should take small sips of the water so that it didn't just make her sick again. That sounded like a good idea to her. She didn't want to get sick again if she could help it and she was doing her best already to fight the awful feeling back. She kind of just shrugged a bit when he asked if she had an idea what had made her sick. She knew, but...she didn't want to tell him about it. She didn't want him to worry.

So first she decided to talk about the thing that he was proud of and that would actually make him happy when he came to sit down on the couch with her. She moved closer to curl up in his arms because that was all she really wanted at the moment. "I love it." she said, looking up with a bit of a smile. It wasn't quite as bright and happy as usual, but it was genuine. It was simply as much as she could manage with how awful she felt.

She took a couple small sips of the water when she took the medicine he had gotten out for her. Trying to take it did make her gag, but she managed to stop herself from getting sick so she could keep it down. She wanted it to have a chance to work...what was the point if she just threw it back up?

Kiva just snuggled against her father more, gathering herself a little before speaking. "I didn't get to have my lunch today." she said quietly, not wanting him to think the food they had given her had gone bad. She didn't go into further detail yet though. She didn't want her dad all upset and worked up over the kids at school. They were her problem to deal with not his or Axel's.

She pulled her legs up closer to herself, her stomach hurting. She had never been so physically hurt by something the other kids had done before though. This was a whole new level and she didn't want it to happen again. She never wanted to have to feel this bad again. "I can stay home with you and dad until I feel better...right? I don't have to go to school until then?" she asked. Maybe she could drag it out a bit and avoid school for a while.

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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jul 1 2018, 06:41 AM
Quote
You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
32
Victor
Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
Rep: 0 pts



Before he had settled down with Kiva, he had also brought over a bottle of water. Now, as she nestled into his arms and he pulled her close, he handed it to her. Then, he let her just try to relax and cuddle. Sometimes it was easy to forget that Kiva still needed him and Axel. She was older now and seemed to try her hardest to be super independent. That had always amazed Arlo. He knew that when he was her age he was independent because he had to be. He was living with Axel's family at that point, taking tesserae and trying not to be a burden. Kiva didn't have to worry about that though. She could still be a kid if she wanted to be. However, she seemed to like the independence and Arlo wasn't going to push her. However, he really did like these times, even if they were rare, when Kiva let him hold her like when she was little and let him father her more than usual. They were a reminder that he was still needed and they helped to keep him balanced and on track.

As his daughter curled up in his arms, he held her close, kissing the top of her head and rubbing her back. She was his entire world. He would do anything for her and he hated knowing she was sick and he was helpless to do anything for her. All he could do was provide the comfort of his arms and be there for her, just as she asked him to. That also let him know that she was sick, as lately she didn't ask for he or Axel unless she wasn't feeling well or truly needed something. He liked being needed, though he hated that it was for this reason. "I'm glad. I just thought it'd be something good for us to look at when we're in this room." Many of the rooms throughout their home were covered in murals. Arlo tended to create such things when he was on his own and looking for something to pass the time and keep his mind occupied. There could be no doubts that the people living here had a victor among them.

Arlo looked at Kiva curiously as she told him she didn't get to have her lunch today. That was unexpected. Axel and Arlo always sent her to school with either leftovers or a lunch that they made her. Usually, Arlo cooked, another hobby he'd picked up to pass the time and he took pleasure and pride in ensuring that if Axel was going to the garage he had a good lunch and that his daughter had one too. They might have their struggles, but he wasn't going to let food go to waste, especially knowing how scarce it was and what was offered throughout the rest of the district. People often forgot that until his games he'd gone without food at times or dealt with whatever he could find. "Why is that, Kiva? I sent you with lunch...didn't I?" He was a bit worried he had forgotten somehow or that he'd had an episode and hadn't actually made Kiva the lunch he thought he did.

Arlo just held Kiva closer as she seemed to curl into him more and nodded. "Of course. We would never send you to school when you're sick like this, sweetpea. If Dad has to go to the garage, you will still have me here with you, as we know I don't really go anywhere." Days alone were hardest for Arlo and he often spent them shopping at the market, cooking or painting. He found ways to keep himself busy and, in turn, keep himself balanced and from turning to morphling in a moment of weakness.


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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jul 1 2018, 11:34 AM
Quote
The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
Rep: 0 pts


Kiva kept her eyes on the mural that he had made, using it to ground her and to keep from just completely breaking down like she wanted to. She was always the most vulnerable during these times, when she actually allowed herself to be comforted by her parents. These were the times when she slipped up and let everything come pouring out that she had been working so hard to deal with on her own. She didn't want to do that this time. She had done it with Axel when Arlo was gone and she had felt horrible after. She was struggling though.

"It's so pretty and perfect for this room." Kiva commented truthfully. She loved having her father's murals and paintings scattered around the house. It was something that she knew he loved to do and that made him happy. She also knew that him painting something like this meant he wasn't currently in a bad place. Which made it even harder to hold back though. On one hand he was okay and maybe now would be a good time for him to help her, but on the other hand she didn't want to add problems when he was okay. She didn't want to ruin that for him by adding problems. It was a struggle.

She sighed softly and nodded. "You did, but I didn't have it at lunch time." she said quietly. She chewed her lip a little, trying so hard not to just break, but there were tears filling her eyes. "Someone took it...and made me eat food they had brought." she said after a moment. She wished that she could add onto it that it was okay and she could deal with it, but there was nothing she could do about it and it clearly wasn't okay since it had made her so sick.

She buried her face against him so that he couldn't see the tears as they started down her cheeks. "Can I just stay home with you all the time? Even when I am not sick?" she asked quietly. "I can do stuff here...I know how to read and write. I know history. I know everything I need to know." she mumbled. She didn't want to go back to that place. She just wanted to stay home with Arlo and Axel.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jul 1 2018, 11:56 AM
Quote
You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
32
Victor
Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
Rep: 0 pts



Arlo nodded. "I thought perhaps this room needed a little happy, ya know?" This house had seen so much through the years. If the walls could talk they'd tell many stories, both happy and sad. Not only did the murals speak of recovery, of coping and happiness...but the walls themselves had stories to tell. Still, he was glad Kiva liked the mural he'd done today. He had enjoyed making it and it had kept him focused, keeping him from brooding or allowing his lonely-thoughts to take him somewhere he did not want to be.

When his daughter revealed that she didn't have what he'd made her at lunch and that someone took it and made her eat their food, he frowned. "Kiva...what happened?" He had a feeling that her words were only scraping the surface. He suspected there was more to the story. If their food had made her sick, then there had to be a lot more to it and it didn't make him think pleasant thoughts. He knew kids could be cruel. He had experienced the cruelty when he was a child himself. However, he had hoped that his daughter would not experience such things.

As she buried her face against his chest, he could feel the tears soaking into his shirt. He reached one hand out to run it through her hair, stroking it. Then he kissed the top of her head again. The words she muttered against him only confirmed his suspicions. Clearly she was being bullied. There was no other reason she'd wish to avoid school if she weren't being bullied. It broke his heart to hear it, but he remembered what that was like. He recalled the many times he'd gone home bruised and battered. Unlike him, however, Kiva had parents who cared and would move mountains for her if they could.

"Sweetpea, you have to go to school. We would all get in trouble with the peacekeepers if you did not. By law every child has to attend school." She may be the child of a victor, but the rules still applied. The Capitol still regulated their life. If anything, she would be watched closer because she was his child, because he was watched closely. He was property of the Capitol and in turn, he suspected so was his family. She had to go to school, even if he WISHED he could keep her home, as she was practically pleading with him to do.

"Kiva, you know that Dad and I understand, right? I don't know why you never told us this before....but I have a sneaking suspicion this has to do with the kids at school and if so, that is okay. We can deal with this." Arlo told his daughter, sighing a bit as he continued to stroke her hair. " I spent half of my life bullied and unlike you, I had no loving parents to return to and I....I suffered alone a lot until your mother and dad came along. So please, tell me what is going on so I can help you." He might not be able to stop the other kids from bullying her, but he would be able to teach her to be confident, to defend herself and help her to cope with it if she let him. His own bullies only stopped when he ignored them and formed a bond with Axel and Revaline. Still, he'd had to cope with it before then and even after, cope until it ended.
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jul 1 2018, 08:54 PM
Quote
The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
Rep: 0 pts


Kiva nodded a bit. "You should just paint something on every wall in the house. A little happy would be good everywhere." she said softly, managing a bit of one of her smiles again at the thought of her father's art covering all the walls in the house. It would be different. It would make their house unique. It would make every room happy. Plus it would give Arlo something to do.

The smile was gone again very quickly though when he was questioning her about what had happened at school. It was too late to go back and say that nothing had happened. She had already ruined that. She should have just told him she had no idea how she had gotten sick and not said anything about the lunch at all. Why was she letting herself slip up so much with these things lately?

"Some kids took my lunch and ate it themselves and told me that I had to eat the food they always have to eat." Kiva mumbled. She was sure the type of bullying was far different from why Arlo was bullied as a child. She was bullied because of her nice things, because her nice things made her different and made her stand out. So many of her peers had so little compared to her. She...in a way understood their frustrations, but not the way they were handling them. Being cruel to her would change nothing for them.

She shook her head when he stated that it was a law that they had to go to school. "I don't believe that." she commented. "If it is a law then they don't enforce it because there are a lot of kids who don't come to school. There are a lot of kids who used to be in my classes that aren't anymore." she told him. More kids disappeared as the year went on. Plus, she knew there were plenty of adults in the district who couldn't read or write or even spell their own names. They clearly hadn't attended school.

"I never told you this before because I didn't want to add to your problems...I didn't want to make things more difficult and there isn't anything you can do." Kiva mumbled, shaking her head. There wasn't and she truly believed that. The people of district 6 very rarely cared about others. They certainly didn't care much about the kids. That was why there were so many orphans. "My teachers won't do anything, I already told them and they have seen it all. The peacekeepers don't care. The kids don't care. They won't stop and no one can make them." she mumbled.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jul 1 2018, 09:26 PM
Quote
You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
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Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
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Arlo smiled. "I like that idea. I should make that a goal. What should I paint?" He looked at the mural and his daughter's smile. It was far from her usual radiant smile, but at least it was something. He liked the smile better than a look of pain. He felt helpless when it came to pain. At least the mural had changed that for a few moments. "You know, when you were still in your mother's belly I painted your nursery. That isn't the room you sleep in now, but one of the many spare rooms. I probably need to repaint that, unless we end up with another baby in the house." Arlo actually smiled at the memory. He had been so excited for her birth that for a brief period after the games, the very action of painting the nursery and preparing the big new house for her arrival had kept him stable and occupied. Hell, her birth had kept him stable. It wasn't until she was a few weeks old that he began to crack, lack of sleep and nightmares catching up with him, her screams sending him back into the arena. Still, Revaline had been there and Axel visited frequently. Plus, Paxton and Valerian had also been next door, understanding the post-games reactions and PTSD. He'd had support. Still, he remembered painting her nursery with a smile, it was one of the few good memories from that time period. It wasn't laced with guilt or pain. It was a truly happy moment in his life.

Arlo frowned as his daughter explained what had happened. "Is that what made you sick?" He knew how awful that food was. He had been one of those kids before he went into the games. Hell, he was probably worst off than some of them, being without a family and living off of the charity of Axel's family. He'd gone with no food at times or picking scraps out of the garbage. It wasn't something he was proud of, but it was a method of survival. "Kiva, they are wrong. I hope you know that. You....you didn't choose this life, none of us did. I am glad you never have to go hungry and you can have these things...but I think that the cost is something none of your classmates understand." How could kids understand the cost of sanity? How could they even comprehend the emotional toll that suffering took on a kid or the sacrifices they didn't see that were made? Arlo was always being monitored. He had to play by the Capitol's rules, while still raising his daughter to be a good person. Yes, they had luxuries that others did not, but that did not mean that they were safe. Kiva didn't know that when she was little, an infant, he had struggled with morphling addiction. She didn't know that her father had tried to end his life more than once. Axel had been there. He had stopped it all. Yet, Kiva didn't know these things, the suffering that had been endured for her to have these things and know only the stability. She only saw the nightmares, the more mild side effects of being a victor.

"Kiva, you are not just any child. The Capitol can care less about most of the people in this district. As long as they get tributes each year and those within this district can complete enough of the work they need...they don't care. You, however, are my child and I am....to put it lightly, property of the Capitol. I'm one of their victors. If you dropped out of school it would be noticed and I don't know what they would do..." There was fear in his voice. He knew that he was fortunate compared to some of the other victors. He remained off the Capitol's radar, as he did what he was supposed to do and never caused a scene. He wanted it to remain that way. He didn't want anything to happen to Kiva or Axel. He didn't want to be apart from them or to undergo whatever punishments the Capitol could give him. So, he tried to remain in line and to keep his daughter from the Capitol's radar as well. However, to do that he needed her to go to school like everyone else. The Capitol was the biggest bully and Arlo was still trying to remain on their goodside, to keep his life as good as it had been, as happy as it had been.

"Kiva, you could never add to my problems. You have always helped my problems just by being here and needing me. Shutting me out, not telling me things....that will be what adds to my problems because that will make me worry." Arlo spoke honestly. Kiva's needs had always gone before his own. They had always helped him to recall why he needed to be here and why he needed to remain stable. It was his daughter who Axel often reminded him of when he was in a dark moment, when he was considering morphling or when he found Arlo with a knife in his hand. It was Kiva who had helped Axel pull Arlo out of those moments. She probably didn't know that, but he was trying to tell her now. He was trying to share that without revealing the full scope of the darkness.

"I was not referring to what I could do or what your teachers weren't doing. Kiva, there are other ways to handle bullies and some ways involve learning how to deal with them." Arlo explained, sighing. He hated that his daughter had to go through this. The reason she was being bullied was very different than why he'd been bullied as a kid. Still, he understood the pain of it and the hurt. He'd been lucky to have found Axel and Revaline in it. He could only hope his daughter might find at least one friend and ally. One friend was worth more than gold.
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Kiva Cooper
 Posted on: Jul 9 2018, 10:33 PM
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The Struggle is Part of The Story
14
Student
Posts: 39
Emmie
District Six
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Kiva was thinking about what Arlo should paint in the other rooms of the house when he began to talk about painting her nursery before she was even born. It likely would have made her smile, but then he mentioned not painting over it if they were to have another baby around the house. She felt her stomach do a sort of flip and for a second she felt like she was going to immediately be sick again, but she managed to avoid it.

"What? You can't paint over it...you made it for me. For me." There was some emphases on the last two words she spoke and something about the way she looked at Arlo that said she didn't like the idea of a new baby taking over the room either. "We should just leave it. We can figure out something to use the room for still." she added, snuggling against him again and hugging her arms around her stomach though, the smile long gone and replaced once again by the miserable look she had earlier. Now she had another worry on her mind too that wasn't helping.

She sighed a bit at his question though. "I think so. I don't know for sure, but it didn't taste good and now I am sick..." she said quietly. It had to be that, right? It had been so long since she had been super sick like this from an actual stomach bug. "I know that..." she said quietly. She did know that they were wrong, sort of, but how was she to explain things to them that she didn't even fully understand? And how did she justify that their struggles were worse than what some of these kids faced? Some of these kids had parents who were worse than Arlo could get at times and well...they didn't have good homes or food still. Kiva had a lot and it wasn't fair, but...it wasn't her fault and it didn't make the things she dealt with any less hard. It was complicated.

Kiva rolled her eyes a bit as he mentioned that he was a victor and therefore she had to go to school because the Capitol would actually care if she did or not. "They don't care if I show up to school or not. They don't care about us...period." she mumbled. There was so much harsh truth in that statement too. They didn't care enough that her dad had a pregnant girlfriend at home when he was sent into the games. They didn't care that her mother had a tiny baby at home when they sent her in. They didn't care that her father suffered constantly from what they had done to him. They didn't care so long as she showed up at reapings and he kept playing their little games. "I'm not going back. I can't go back." she said, her voice far more firm now.

She sighed softly and looked down. She wasn't sure she really believed that her needing him helped more, but...maybe it did. Maybe she sucked at hiding things and just made him sad and worried instead. Maybe she could start talking to him and Axel a bit more...pretty much everything that was terrible was out in the open now anyway. Between Axel knowing about her being upset about her mom and Arlo knowing about the school issues. "You guys know it all now anyway." she mumbled.

She was upset still, that much was clear in the way she spoke like a grumpy teenager. Maybe a mix between a grumpy teen and a grumpy child. "If you are talking about learning to fight them then I am definitely not interested." she added, shaking her head. She didn't want to fight them by actually fighting. She didn't want things to be physical. She didn't want to be like them.
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Arlo Cooper
 Posted on: Jul 11 2018, 10:43 AM
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You're Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open
32
Victor
Posts: 59
Shaney
Victor
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{TW: Mentions of suicide and addiction}

Arlo was not expecting the reaction Kiva had when he casually, teasingly for now, mentioned the possibility of another baby. He’d been thinking how nice it might be to raise a baby with Axel now that he was more stable. He’d done his best with Kiva, but sometimes he felt like in her infancy he’d failed her because he’d struggled with addiction to morphling, suicide attempts and major PTSD the first two-three years of her life. She didn’t know all of it and he wasn’t sure she ever would. He hadn’t let her know about his struggles with addiction. He hadn’t let her know how bad things had been when she was too young to remember. He’d gotten better and of course he’d been a better father after but he couldn’t help but feel inadequate when he thought of how he’d failed his daughter those first few years. He also couldn’t help but consider raising a child who needed a family with Axel, one that was theirs from the beginning. It wasn’t that Kiva wasn’t, but when she was first born she’d had Revaline and Arlo, Axel had stepped up during the games and he’d loved her as his own but it wasn’t until she was around 4 and his accident occurred that they were even together as a couple. There was a huge part of Arlo that really wanted to increase their family, helping a baby from the orphanage and raising a child with Axel now that he was stable.

“Kiva…” Arlo started, but stopped himself. Now did not seem the time to let her in on his thoughts and feelings, to let her know that he had been considering asking her dad if they could adopt a baby. Right now it seemed best to let things be, and just spend time with his daughter. It seemed that she needed this and he sort of did too. He missed his daughter when he was in the Capitol and leaving her always came with a large level of guilt, even if he knew that he had to do it or face severe consequences. He was still a pawn in the games and he didn’t think he’d ever be able to escape that. He just had to hope and pray that his daughter would never have to suffer the games because then he knew he’d break. He’d no longer be a pawn, but a broken man and he didn’t think he’d survive it. He’d barely survived losing Kiva’s mother. Arlo just held his daughter a little closer, doing what he could to comfort her via touch.

“I’m sorry, sweetpea.” Arlo said, stroking his daughter’s hair and rubbing her back. He hated that she had gone through this and he couldn’t help but feel at fault for it all. If he hadn’t gone into the games life would be completely different. Instead of painting murals in the a large manse in the victor’s village and enjoying luxuries no one else in district 6 had, they would have had a very modest life in a small home or apartment, where love was plentiful but there wasn’t much else. Kiva may have had to take out tesserae. Axel….he wouldn’t be with Arlo romantically and knowing the things Arlo knew of Axel’s past now, he didn’t like to think of where Axel might be without them. As much as he felt it was his fault his daughter was being bullied, he could not wish for things to be different.

“Do you, Kiva? There are a lot of things you don’t know about how rough things were for our family when you were a baby. I am not discounting what your schoolmates experience. Believe me, I know the abandonment, abuse, and pain they experience because I was them until….well….until the games forced me not to be.” He had been raising himself as his mother wasted away selling herself and addicted to morphling. He had been homeless after he found her dead of an overdose when he was 13 years old. He had struggled to cope without a family or money. He’d taken tesserae and unknown to him at the time been living under the roof of an abuser, with Axel protecting him more than he knew. He understood what was out there beyond the victor’s village and what her schoolmates suffered. He was empathetic to it because it had been his life once. However, he didn’t regret being able to raise Kiva better, for her not to have to struggle. He felt guilty the other kids didn’t understand and bullied her, but he didn’t regret it.

“Maybe it’s time I...I let you know how bad things were when you were a baby, it won’t help the other kids understand but it may be something you’re old enough to understand now.” Arlo stated, a bit unsure whether or not this was a good idea. However, he knew he couldn’t shelter Kiva forever, nor could he let her feel she couldn’t talk to him for fear of triggering him. He needed her to know that he truly was okay now, that even with the nightmares and PTSD flare-ups from time-to-time he wasn’t unstable like he once was, that she didn’t need to hide from him.

“Kiva…” Arlo closed his eyes a moment and sighed. He understood he feelings. He felt them too. He knew that the Capitol didn’t give a damn unless they played along, played their little game and complied. Compliance. That is what they wanted above anything else. They didn’t want rebels. They wanted fear and compliance. He hated it, yet he worried about his family if he didn’t play along and he worried about what happened if they didn’t. This was their life and they could only have it because Arlo played the game and didn’t make waves, he stayed off the radar and never had to suffer punishments from the “victor handler” the way he knew some victors did. He’d seen the impact of that, the example made of those victors. He didn’t want to be that or do that. So, he fell in line and ensured Kiva showed up to school and remained off the radar. “I agree with you, believe me….but we can’t do this. You have to go to school. I have to go to the Capitol. We have to….to do as we are expected. We cannot speak out of line outside this house...say things like this.” He knew the consequences if they didn’t and he had tried to shield her from them, but now he feared he’d have to explain them, to tell her what type of people existed to punish those who did not fall in line. He didn’t wish to scare her, but he also needed her to understand why he did what he did and why she couldn’t just stop going to school.

“I can try to hire a private tutor….but until then you have to go to school and listen to what they teach. There are always people watching me, because I’m a victor, and looking to punish or make an example of victors who don’t fall in line. If you suddenly stopped going to school….well, I am afraid of the consequences, not just for me but for all of us. People disappear in the districts, Kiva. No...they don’t care about us but I do, Kiva and I want to make sure we stay together as a family and…no more damage is done.” He didn’t know if they’d actually care or do anything now that Kiva was 14, work age. However, he couldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t and he didn’t want to take a chance. He would look into a private tutor, even someone from the Capitol if it were allowed, to teach Kiva what they wanted her to know and to ensure they complied, but also to make his daughter happy, to stop this bullying from happening. Until then, however, he knew she’d have to go back to school once this illness passed.

Arlo sighed. “Kiva, it is not a matter of what we do or don’t know….it is a matter of trusting one another and being open with one another. I’m your father. I may have had a lot of struggles and I’m sorry you….I’m sorry you saw it as a reason not to talk to me...but regardless of my struggles, you’re happiness, health and well-being are most important to me.” He hated that his daughter seemed to feel that coming to him would have added to his struggles. He tried so hard to be honest with her while also shielding her from the worst of it all...but it seemed it had only made her feel that his struggles were more important and she didn’t need to burden him. He hated that. He was the father and he was supposed to be there for her, he hated that she’d hid this so long.

“There are more ways than one to defend yourself, Kiva. It is not always about fighting.” Fighting had been his method of fighting off the bullies. However, he knew there were other ways. Axel would come in swinging when coming to Arlo’s aid. Revaline, however, was softer. She was more of the diplomat and she would fight with her words, would make the bullies feel so guilty they’d turn away. “Your mother never fought with fists.” Arlo said, his voice becoming softer and more gentle.
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