Hey everyone! Most of my reviewers asked for a sequel, so here it is, finally! Please tell me what you think of it. :)
I sigh, ignoring the sound of Cato's voice and continuing to look out the window of our train, my eyes taking in the landfill that District Twelve is.
"Ready as I'll ever be." I say after a moment as the train comes rolling to a stop.
This is our last stop on the Victory Tour before going home. And to be honest, I've kind of been dreading it the whole way. It's not like I'm scared of a bunch of District Twelve hill-billys, but it's sure to be uncomfortable here. I follow Cato out of my room and we meet Axel and Epione in the hallway, our mentors, and unfortunately, Artie, our escort.
"Remember: accept whatever the mayor gives you, try to act polite, and don't start a commotion. That way, we can get out of here as soon as possible." Epione tells us. I nod, and she gives me a small, encouraging smile and a little shove out the door, making me stumble in these ridiculous heels my stylist put me in. I'd prefer to go barefoot, honestly. But I do like one thing about this pair of shoes—they have little flames painted along the bottom, just to spite dear old District Twelve.
We're met by three peacekeepers who are to escort us to the town hall. Well, as the dirt roads we walk on bring us closer, I see that it's just a stage in the center of the town. There's a microphone, and the mayor of Twelve is standing next to it, looking uncomfortable and a little worried.
"District Twelve, please welcome the Victors of the seventy-fourth annual Hunger Games, Cato and Clove!" the Mayor says with forced enthusiasm. There are a few claps here or there. Axel gestures for us to walk up to the stage. Unfortunately, we have to walk through the middle of the crowd to get there, just like in most Districts. Now, I've never regretted a kill. And I'm not saying I regret killing Katniss the way I did—not in the slightest. But here, walking through this sea of people with their eyes burning holes into me, I feel a little…intimidated. Strangely. Not that I couldn't pick every one of them off single-handedly, but I can't help but feel on guard. I just have to remember that this is being taped, and that I can't show any signs of weakness.
When we get up the stage, the mayor hands me a bouquet of flowers. "Welcome to District Twelve." He pastes on a smile, but any of the idiots here could tell it's fake. I smile back, but I'm sure it comes across as more as a grimace.
Cato looks at me, silently telling me to say something. But I've done all the talking so far on this tour. So I shake my head and gesture to the microphone. Cato clears his throat and speaks. "Um, hey." As he begins to talk, I decide it's too horrible to listen to and I survey the crowd. There's a girl in the back, about thirteen, with greasy hair who's sitting in the dirt next to an old lady, and it looks like she's eating a bug. I start to think that maybe we should have taken some shots or something, just to be safe, because I'm pretty sure that kid is rabid or something.
The rest aren't as bad, though. Some you can tell are wealthier than others, but even the richest here would be deemed the poorest of the poor in District Two. It's the people in the front rows that really catch my attention, though. On the left there is a woman and a girl who looks around thirteen. This one, thank God, is not eating bugs. She has silky, straight blond hair that matches the woman standing next to her. The girl has pale blue eyes, the woman grey. Though the hair is different, there's no doubt that these are Katniss's relatives. Her mom and sister, probably. The girl's eyes are filled with tears that are continually spilling over, but the woman…she seems as if she's not really there. She's staring off into space, but then she snaps out of it suddenly and her grey eyes meet my hazel ones. The woman wraps a comforting arm around her daughter's shoulders. Next to them is a plump man with blond hair and blue eyes and a cross-looking woman with the same appearance. I'm guessing this is Peeta's family.
On the right, there's a boy with his family who looks like he's my age. He could be Katniss's brother, they look so much alike. Dark brown hair, tan skin, grey eyes. But unlike Katniss's family, his expression is not sad, but furious. Anger is all over this boy—the way he stands with his fists clenched at his sides, his clenched jaw, his horrible glare that's looking right at me.
By the time I'm finished with my assessment, Cato has finished his speech. He looks to me to say something. So, knowing I have to keep up my snarky physique, I smirk and say into the microphone, "Hope you enjoyed the show."
Someone sobs aloud then, I think it was Katniss's sister but I don't look. We both walk off the stage then, and go around the people instead of through them, this time. When we rejoin our group and begin to walk over to the tent they've set up for us to have dinner in, Artie scolds me. "Clove, that was not very wise to say. Do you want to anger these nice people? You're lucky none of them didn't attack you. I know I would've if that Twelve girl was my kid. I'd come at you with my claws raised, don't you doubt it." Artie blabs on, scratching the air with his black-polished "claws" for effect. I roll my eyes and try to block him out.
You can tell they tried to set up the tent as nicely as possible. There's a long table dressed in a clean white table cloth, set with dishes and silverware.
"Thought we'd have to eat with our hands." Cato mumbles. I snicker and Epione elbows me.
"Polite, remember?" she whispers to me. "You're already on thin ice with these people."
"So what?" I scoff. "I'm so scared of the big, bad District Twelvians!" I laugh and roll my eyes.
Artie glares at me as we sit down. "Clove. The mayor is coming, please hush."
I choke down the dinner that has about as much flavor as paper. Artie is the only one making an effort at conversation, and now he and the Mayor are chatting it up like they're old friends.
After a few minutes of just sitting there, I get up from my chair, telling everyone that I need to get some air. I slip out the back of the tent and into the darkening, cool night. I sigh, wishing that we could go home already. The trees to my right rustle in the breeze. I look out over the small District Twelve. All I can really see are shacks upon shacks, only a few with lights on. Probably the only people who have electricity. I'm about to go back inside when I feel something. Goosebumps raise on my arm. I reach to my belt for a knife but then remember I don't have one. I hear a rustling behind me, in the trees. I whirl around looking from left to right, heart hammering, but nothing's there.
Just as I'm about to go back inside, I'm grabbed from behind. A hand is clapped over my mouth. I squirm helplessly, trying to free my arms, but whoever is holding me is strong and it's no use. Oh, I wish I had a knife! But then I remember—I smuggled one. It's in my shirt. Even at home, I rarely leave the house without a knife. Not because I'm paranoid, but because I'm prepared. I just need to get out of this person's hold….
I feel myself being dragged backwards and I'm about to kick the person from behind, but then their grip releases and one of their rough hands is around my neck, shoving me against a tree, cutting off my oxygen. On the plus side, my arms and legs are free. On the down side, my attacker is standing to far away for me to touch them.
I squint in the darkness and recognize the boy in the front row, the one who looked angry. I struggle for breath and he smiles, his white teeth standing out in the darkness.
"No one to help you now." He grins.
"Who…are you?" I manage to choke out. This is good, Clove, play weak. I'm laying out a plan in my head. I'll take the knife out and slice his arm before he can do anything.
But the boy doesn't answer my question. Instead, he brings his face closer to mine, so close that I can smell his musky scent. "You killed her. You killed Katniss." Wow, attention everyone! Looks like we've got the brainiac of District Twelve right here! I would crack a comment like this, but it's kind of hard to breathe, let alone speak. "You killed her in the cruelest way I have ever seen anyone die in my eighteen years of watching these Games."
Okay, so he's a year older than me. At least now I know that about him.
A shadow crosses over the boy's face. "I loved that girl. How would you like it if the one you loved was cut apart into pieces in front of all of Panem?" he then whips me away from the tree and throws me against the ground, pulling a dagger from his pocket. Before I can resist, he grabs the top of my hair and forces my head against the back of the tree, holding the dagger against my throat. Great, now I can't reach for my weapon or he'll kill me in a second. I can only hope for someone to come out and see us.
I glare at him. "I don't love anybody." I spit.
The boy laughs, a cruel, short laugh, and pulls my hair harder, the grin disappearing and replaced by a scowl. "Why am I not surprise? Any humane person could not do that to another human being."
I grin at him. "Oh, but I did. And it was very entertaining. Much more enjoyable than you could ever imagine."
The boy lets out a growl of fury and he takes the knife away from my neck for a moment, but then my jaw explodes with pain and I realize he punched me. I glare at him. Just as I'm about to make an attempt to kick him, he jerks backwards and I see Cato's familiar muscular arms around the boy's neck. "Move and you die." Cato hisses in the boy's ear. Axel steps out from behind Cato, a gun pointed at the boy.
Artie, Epione, and the Mayor come outside then. The Mayor rushes forward instantly. "Oh, no, that won't be necessary." He says, carefully pushing Axel's gun hand down so the weapon wasn't pointed at anyone. "Gale, what are you doing?" The Mayor demands.
Gale, apparently his name is, does not respond. Cato still has him in a headlock.
"Cato, I think you can let go of the boy." Artie says.
After a minute, Cato begrudgingly releases Gale and then crosses over to me, standing almost protectively at my side. Gale rubs his neck and tries to drop the dagger slyly, but it makes a loud noise when it hits the leaves.
The Mayor sighs. "Gale, please go home." Then he turns to me. "I'm so sorry." But the look on his face tells me he's not exactly sorry at all.
"Oh, look at that, time to go!" Artie says. "Thank you for your hospitality, Mr. Mayor. It's greatly appreciated. Come on, gang, let's head out!" Artie ushers us all out, and no one speaks until we're on the train.
"Why didn't you call for help, Clove?" Cato demands, glaring at me.
"He would have killed me! And besides, I had things under control…"
Axel sighs. "Clove, you need to control that mouth of yours. Provoking someone who has a knife on you is definitely not the smartest thing to do."
I roll my eyes. "Well, I'm fine, okay? So let's just go home."
Epione sighs. "I hate District Twelve."
"Me, too." I agree.
Everyone goes to their rooms then, so it's just me and Cato outside of our rooms. Cato puts his fist against the wall and leans on it.
"What's wrong?" I ask him.
Cato sighs, shakes his head. "Nothing. I'm just…" he sighs again. "I hate District Twelve. Goodnight, Clove."
"Goodnight, Cato." He disappears into his room and I do the same, sitting on my bed and watching the fields and empty space whirl by outside my window. I can not wait to go home.