I'm rewriting this.

Setting: Cato volunteered a year earlier and won his games but, like he did towards the end of the games in the books, he snapped. A year later, he's still recovering when Katniss volunteers.


He'd retreated to the television room long before the two newest district 2 tributes had arrived. Brutus and Enobaria had decided it would be best if he was safely ensconced onboard before the crowds arrived to bid their two potential heroes farewell.

He'd heard them come onboard; derogatory comments about the other tributes and gloats about how they'd please the capitol drifting before them. He hadn't turned when they swaggered in but he'd heard them hesitate when they saw him. Then he'd heard the hurried retreat as they scampered back to the safety of the dining car.

Clove had volunteered, she'd told him she would a couple of weeks ago. She'd picked her timing well; when he was in an abandoned training room, exhausted from a hard workout. He'd killed every dummy in the room, then done the same with the three avoxes between the training room and Enobaria's room. His mentor had sedated him.

The boy was a volunteer too of course - just as arrogant and bold as he had been. He parroted the same drivel about how he was going to win honour and glory for his district, he flexed his muscles and even wore the same facial expressions.

He didn't have the same mindset though, not really. That was what had made Cato the most successful victor in hunger games history. He held the record for most kills and shortest games, despite having been a year too young when he volunteered, but the price had been his sanity. His gloating and parroting had been replaced by blood and death, a crimson sheen across the sedative filled haze of his memories of the first six months outside.

As his reputation grew, the number of annoyances and triggers shrank. Those close to him - his mentors - learned his moods and those who didn't know him kept their distance. Even fearless, bloodthirsty, violent Clove was no longer safe around him.

He glanced at the time on the TV screen, displayed beneath a slowly rotating Panem seal. The others were gathering outside, perhaps gathering their courage. He rolled his head over the back of the couch and sprawled his legs out in front of him.

There was a gentle knock on the door, then after a pause, Enobaria stepped in. Behind her filed Clove and her partner, followed by the other seven living victors from 2. Cato tracked them across the room with his eyes, noting as all ten of them squeezed into the remaining two couches and the armchair, leaving the spots to either side of him empty so that he had the couch to himself.

Lyme pulled the heavy curtains shut, heavy blue velvet turning the room completely dark. In the light of the glowing TV and for want to any other spot left, she perched on the furthest arm of his armchair and fixed her gaze firmly on the screen.

Enobaria leaned forwards, Brutus grunted as she accidentally elbowed him in the ribs, and she brushed her fingers over a metal disk on the coffee table. The Panem logo went black and then a moment later the familiar face of Caesar Flickerman announced - to raucous cheers - the beginning of the reapings.

District 1 came first, the flashy glass fronted Justice Building with the superfluous reaping bowls taking pride of place on the stage. An escort with coal-black complexion, swirling patterns bleached yellow over expanses of exposed skin. The volunteers were up before their respective tribute's names were even called. They were nothing like their usually standard; the boy had a weedy, slimy look to him and the girl was pretty but certainly not a killer.

Clove volunteered in the place of a fourteen year old with acne, then the male tribute was almost bowled over by his volunteer. Dominus was his name and he had definitely read the Cato Stone handbook. He even beat his chest twice and raised his fist in the air which had almost become Cato's signature move during the games.

The girl from 5 was interesting, her eyes betrayed a fierce intelligence but her build was slight and weak. The two volunteers had already dismissed her and Cato mentally chalked up their first mistake. They should have been aware of a potential Johanna Mason. Everyone laughed cruelly when a boy with a crippled leg was selected from district 10 but their amusement faded when a tiny girl was reaped from 11. Even the most bloodthirsty of the victors didn't like having to kill twelve year olds. Her partner was a huge eighteen year old boy and Cato could hear Brutus telling the two tributes that he would be the one to watch out for.

Then district 12 was up, the grubby justice building disguised behind banners that were already greying as the dust kicked up by the gathering crowd settled. Their escort wore an absurd pink dress, matching wig and a huge ring that clinked loudly against the glass bowl as she fished for a slip.

'Primrose Everdeen,' she announced. The camera scanned the crowd, searching for the unfortunate girl. They zoomed in on a commotion around a tiny, stick-thin girl with her hair pulled into two blonde braids. She was impossibly small and one of the district 2 victors let out an unhappy sigh, Primrose didn't even look eleven. Suddenly there was a commotion at the back of the shot, among the oldest children and a brunette stepped out into the aisle between the boys and girls.

'Prim! Prim!' The girl cried. She sounded shocked and desperate as she hurried forwards, barging the peacekeepers aside and sweeping the younger girl behind her without a moment's hesitation. 'I volunteer!' She gasped and the victors and tributes around Cato stirred in surprise. Cato pulled in his sprawled limbs and leaned forwards, his interest captured.

'I volunteer as tribute!' The brunette from district 12 repeated more clearly this time. The people on stage shared uneasy glances, unsure how to act in the face of this anomaly. The escort said something but Cato wasn't listening. The younger girl had begun to scream, clinging to the elder's legs until she was swept off by a tall boy with similar features to the girl. The mayor looked slightly pained as the girl declared her name; Katniss Everdeen. Then the escort finally called for applause but the entire district remained silent, then a single starved looking man, blackened with coal dust, raised his fingers to his lips and into the air towards the girl on stage. One by one the rest of the district followed in their strange, silent salute.

The commentators didn't seem to know what to say of the refusal to applaud; one eventually said that the local customs were charming. Then the drunk fell off stage and the spell was broken. The boy from her district was nothing special, except for the moony eyes he sent in Katniss' direction when they shook hands.

The TV flickered off as Enobaria brushed her finger over the control again, then after a moment of tense silence in the darkness, Lyme groped her way to the curtains and flung them open. They blinked furiously for a moment, every person in the room using the same tactic to adjust to the brightness quicker.

'There we have it, you're both in luck.' Kurt Bonatz turned to the two volunteers. 'A weak field this year, your main competition will be the male from 11...' Cato tuned out his annoying voice with its almost capitolite accent. The boy from 11 would be competition but so would the volunteer from 12. She had the will, the need to win. That was what it took, a certain character, will and a realism that all four of the volunteers from their districts seemed to be missing this year. The games weren't always hunting and winning sponsors. The games meant sleepless nights, constant fear over the alliance breaking up, posturing and threatening, injuries that went unhealed, hunger and a lifetime of torture if you were lucky enough to survive. 12 knew this, hunger and pain were old friends to her. You could see it without even looking in her eyes.