Warning: It's Cato/Clove so expect mature themes.
"Oh, you were mine to kill," That's his first thought the second he sees the huge dark-skinned boy release her nearly lifeless body. Something runs through his veins, a strange kind of bloodlust that involves something more. An intense want of revenge. It consumes him, coursing through his blood and then gnawing at his very bones – though instead of running after the enemy, he rushes to her side.
Angles of what used to be a dangerously alluring face have been dented so terribly that he gasps against his own will, how dare that boy fucking ruin her?
He clutches her formerly clever and strong hands that only now lay limp and breathes in her last word. No. (Though mostly he thinks, "Your last word should've been my name") He can't deal with that at the moment, when all that's in his clouded vision is a blinding red that pushes him to crossly stand and run after her killer. Red. Because this isn't what's supposed to happen. So blindingly red. How dare he? Red. Red.
The same hideous demise for the boy, that's what he only aches to see, he flexes his fingers now, grinning madly – but he soon realizes she'd want it to be beautiful, she'd want to hear the prey's bloodcurdling screams and she'd want to laugh at the tearing of his flesh while he loses himself in the agony. Oh yes, he'd make it beautiful.Because she'd chastise him for a ridiculously wasted shot at death if he didn't.
(And some part of him is eternally consumed by a fear and respect of her, but we are afraid that's a story for another time.)
And so he slays 11 with all the art he can manage at the time fury is the only thing that seems to matter. He makes certain he crafts his face into something that would terribly amuse her – and District 2, and their mentors, and the Capitol even – and he blithely mists the surroundings with what's left of the prey's blood because this would make for good show. Oh, how the Capitol would love it. (Though mostly he only honestly thinks, "This is for you, Clove") The hovercraft carries 11's mangled body, and his insanely hysterical kind of laugh echoes in the forest, but bitterness seeps into it. This is more than you deserved, 11.
Slowly it comes back to him. Cato remembers why he ran after this boy. Because this isn't what was supposed to happen. Yes, 11 had acquired his pack, an abounding bag of food and medicine and secret weapons and all the things they needed, but mostly he's furious that 11 had her death on his ugly unskillful hands.
The place near the Cornucopia where she died is unchanged, save for the fact that the hovercraft has already taken her away. He thrashes around and screams every profanity at the tip of his tongue – he's still furious. At Clove, for not being strong enough. At 11, for breaking her like that. He's still furious. But moreover, he's tired.
It is almost pitiful, the chance he'd been robbed of. He picks up the very rock her head got bashed with and closes his eyes. How dare he fucking ruin her? She was his. She was his to break. She was only his to kill.
He was supposed to slowly break her shoulders, her delicately beautiful shoulders, – possibly the only part of her that was delicate – and then he was supposed to wipe the single stray teardrop on her cheek. But she wouldn't be crying, not really. He was supposed to make her lips bleed with the point of his favorite sword, but not touch any more of her face because he respects that it is only truly hers to craft that of a person. He was supposed to calm her when she pleads his name, "Oh, Cato"– no, not plead, never plead, she does many things but never plead – when she whispers in the way only he can understand.
He was supposed to kill her with all his glory and all of him and her screams were only his to relish – Panem was supposed to be left speechless with her death. He wanted to kill her if she was the last thing he killed and as if she's the last thing he'd ever kill.
He smiles hungrily at the thought but his eyes are unreadable – a particular glint is in them that no one can understand at the time, not even him – but it's perhaps because he had to settle for slaying 11.
"Oh, you were mine to kill," He lies down the earth she died on when the bruises 11 left on him finally hurt a little – she was the only one he wanted to kill, she was the only one he wanted to leave him bruises – "you were mine to kill."
(We are hoping you know better. We are hoping you know what this means.)
You all know of Panem's horrid predicament under the Capitol, the Capitol's revolting ways – you know this from the side of the heroes that won the 74th Hunger Games and ignited the fire. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark and some very remarkable tributes started the revolution you are all too familiar with. You know of amazing stories they now teach you as history.
But before history, there were other jadedly beautiful things you know nothing of. Jadedly beautiful things you may or may have not considered malevolence. But they were certainly jaded and beautiful.
And we are certain you never thought about this. What of those who were born and raised in the Capitol, with diamond-studded silver spoons and platters and goblets right under their noses, and those infants who knew nothing of the world but watched and consequently grew to be fancy puppets of the tyranny? Every soul from the "heaven" your forefathers believed in are the same before life messes them up, you see.
Oh. Don't worry, we are not trying to rationalize. We don't rationalize, we never do. We just loathe ignorance.
You overlooked the children born to be expensive experiments and projects in District 5, didn't you? What of the children born to Peacekeepers for parents in 2, or the children from a family tree of ruling mayors who were children once too? Do you not think they closed their eyes the first time they witnessed a death or the first time they were trained to kill, and what if perhaps they felt supposedly obligated to suppress fear very early from childhood? Some are ruthless killers because they learned only that to be. What if the world has even more ruthless ways to make a person ruthless himself?
Oh. We are sorry. We don't mean to sound revolting. Please don't worry, we are not glorifying nor justifying anything. We just want you to know. We just want you to wonder.
And for now we just want to tell you a footnote in history.
District 2 is all hulking buildings that resemble factories from the outside but nearing distance could only mean they are greatly different once you hear the scraping metal to flesh. Near The Nut, centers are built where people of all ages are trained – the youth for the annual Hunger Games, those who lived longer than that to be Peacekeepers, and the rest who were never strong enough, stone miners.
The Victors' Village in 2 is perhaps the most precious – with its even more towering houses and its own clubhouse and own sections for the victors' entertainment alone – and yet the most crowded among the other districts.
Cato was one to grow up getting used to visits in that village. His father was the district mayor and his mother was the victor of the 54th Hunger Games so naturally he lived a cliché of having everything offered right before him and getting aggressive when it isn't. ("You do not think of anything else, Cato" his mother would whisper after she narrates her bedtime stories of the most violent and beautiful Hunger Games there were, "you don't think of any but the way you'd be much better than all the victors here combined.")
Town was all bowed heads and sheepish smiles when he walks because they know he would be a victor and victors are treated about a thousand times better than merchants, not because of adoration, but because of fear. Cato was feared, long before he was born.
The Training Center in District 2 was not much unlike the one in the Capitol, sections entailing different skills to practice but the trainers here were more like Peacekeepers than actual trainers. If District 1 provided luxury items for all they're worth, the people in 2 treated their children like luxury items – cleaned, polished, and sold straight to the Capitol. Winning is the primary purpose of their products, like providing coal and thus fire was of District 12's. (And later they'll tell you of how paradoxical everything about this is, but we are all about this lone story.)
Cato had been registered at that center since he was 7, but he's been sneaking around the weapons' industrial units since about a year before that. Executions flashed themselves in his eyes before he even learned to walk because the mayor's family quite had a fondness for watching deaths in public, so death was to him as nursery rhymes were to children his age then. Since he went to training, he only swallowed his fate whole and embodied it.
There was a girl from the market. She was a child of the meat butcher, and she was the most hostile of the children in the elementary school that she was promoted a free pass to the Training Center, without connections and without fancy blood and without political influence – her name was Clove and she learned to be proud of it at such a young age. The clink of knives at midmorning and the shearing of flesh always served as her lullaby, but not in the way her mother and father would have expected.
(Clove always thought Cato vulnerable but glorified. "You'll see someday," she smirks when she watches him watch the capital punishment of a Peacekeeper's wife who tried to escape town. "You'll see how good you only are because of who you're born to.")
The first year of training was always spent on learning different kinds of weapons. The sharp curves of different daggers, the electrifying lightness at hand of deathly spears, even hidden danger in inconspicuous scalpels – that way the young trainees find out what feels greatest in their hands to kill with. Without looking at them, Clove already knew what was hers. Cato was blinded by their desirability – he just knew he wanted to kill, never at first how to.
But they were always proud of him in the years that came. Trainers and fellow victors of his mother and town officials, even co-trainees. The girls screamed for him when he threw a perfect spear or when he used slingshots to pass time with – it was the world's warped way of who to admire. The boys envied him when he broke a femur or a clavicle with Peacekeepers looking proudly at him instead of giving him warnings.
From the attention Cato gathered, it was impossible not to become aware of him. But Clove was always apathetic. She knew and she felt district pride, but in the end it was always about her. (So when the paper with her name fatefully floats to the host's hand at the reaping, she only thinks, "This is what we've waited for.")
Reapings have always been uneventful at District 2, if not because of the crowding boys and girls gnashing their teeth and yearning to volunteer and their families practically quivering with – no, not fear, never fear – pride. In the reaping for the 74th Hunger Games, Clove's name was picked and she could almost hear the escalating jealousy pooling at the end of all the girls' nerves, because no matter what people say to tone down the mindset of 2, everyone wants this chance. She speaks so gently in the microphone in front of her up stage, "No one steals this from me,"and they were her first words to all of their district and everyone knows to swallow what she means.
The boys were all trembling to rush forward and volunteer though, – watching Clove, seeing the dangerous angle of her jaw, the permanent taunting smirk on her lips, the malice in her striking eyes – because they want so badly to kill her, they all picture killing her in that moment, and this year would provide almost a certain chance of great competition between two of their tributes, that their tributes would get to kill each other in the end and nothing would be better.
But Cato's mind was one step ahead as always. "Oh, I get to kill you in the end." He can see himself breaking her bones and stroking the rushes of her blood as they dissipate and it consumes him, the all-encompassing desire of having her death on his hands. Flexing his fingers and savouring the smile that comes onto his lips, he volunteers. Finally, finally, this is our moment of glory, he thinks to his parents who never seemed to think him ready.
The ceremonies were predictably beautiful, sticking to district tradition, but Cato and Clove don't give a fuck about tradition, all that devours them is the friction in the air when their eyes meet on the way to the train. Clove smiles differently at him – her face unwarrantedly giving pictures of carving flesh and burning districts and winning, always winning, – the intensity of her death gaze multiplied a thousand times and he just can't think of anything else but, "Oh, I get to kill you in the end."
Licinius and Enobaria were victors of the 57th and 61st Hunger Games respectively, and they were chosen as mentors that year by decision of the mayor and the existing pool of victors that it was obvious District 2 takes both tributes and mentors equally seriously. Both were resolute in pushing their tributes to win, voices resounding of a certain competition and Clove immediately sees, "This would be good, our mentors in a game of their own" and Cato and Clove both think, they both know, "I would make you proud."
A truce was made before even the train is in perfect view of the Capitol that they were to be allies as well as the District 1 and 4 tributes not much unlike the past years – they watched recaps of the reapings in the train, and thought that a solid idea. They are coached separately but they dine at the same time and watch different footage at the same time and "brainstorm" techniques at the same time, that the line of rivalry grows barely visible.
(But we know it rested on the silent moments.
Shattered nightlamps no one saw in the corner – a row of slivers on the table cloth – gritted teeth and held back feral screams – hearts stopped beating and 'deaths' unseen – no one knows this and we hope you will, but the greatest enmities lie in silence.
Licinius talking betrayal and unreal trust to his trainee and Enobaria smiling, oh nearly taunting at hissed whispers and hushed aggression. Enobaria creating lists of sponsors to be attracted by her trainee's bone structure in accordance to the malicious glint in the child's eyes and Licinius laughing, oh nearly ridiculing at old Aria's naivety.
Clove playing idly with her hair and Cato wondering, oh just basically seeing, how fucking good it would feel to tear them all out. Cato licking his lips when witnessing Titus' footage and Clove thinking, oh just basically wanting, to bruise them so bad and ruin his pretty face. Because in these silent moments they feel the only thing they were ever taught; bloodlust.)
Generations before you might have kept the dusty documentations intact, of interviews and cut scenes from the history's story we tell you. We just want you to watch as we and all of Panem did.
There is the kind of fire that brings you soporific warmth from the point of your fingertip to the crown of your head, and there's the kind that just sets your body ablaze to ashes from the moment you think of touching it. But it was fire that sent a country to revolution and thus freedom – the girl who was on fire, distinctively – fire that began from the beginning of yet another unforgettable Hunger Games.
Perhaps you have been told of how the girl just radiated, hand in hand with the boy, on the chariots with their flames undulating over the smiling faces of the Capitol audience. They waved and introduced themselves, and the rest played out over time – but what you have now started with their fire back then. Oh and they must have had a lot, of that which warmed your kin's heart from the boy's declaration of love and their coming as star-crossed lovers, and of that which scorched your blood's mind enough to join the revolution.
Still, playing with fire is dangerous, and danger is as danger does.
And there were others who had a little too much fondness over fire that they burned out on their own. Though we never witnessed an affirmation. That year, some blazing eyes looked over to District 12's chariot and wondered where they might have gone short. They were one of the firsts to be welcomed, and the instant the doors opened for them there was a hushed silence in the place, with glowing admiration in the faces of those who watched. Cato and Clove – their names resonated with fear, but no, never fire – were relishing the esteem before coal had stolen all the spark.
We hope you grasp the feeling of having everything stolen for a short while. We hope you recognize the need of want, and how generations before you failed to see how fire truly begins and who thinks it should have been theirs. They were wrong, but what is wrong really when that is everything they've known?
We are sorry. We don't mean to sound condescending. We never patronized them or anybody for the matter, and that's why we want you to see all the angles of this changeless inferno.
(And later, but not much later, Clove watches the girl twirl in her fiery dress and thinks, "Too much fire wasted, too fucking wasted." Cato watches the boy declare his love to the girl on fire and thinks, "Oh, let's play with fire, but you're just matches."
And later, much much later, Clove asks the alliance in the arena, "Why? You think she bought into that sappy romance stuff?" because she would never admit it but she thought better of the fire girl. But then Cato says, just to humour her, "Seemed pretty simpleminded to me. Every time I think about her spinning around in that dress, I want to puke."
But we don't want to retell this yet.
We just want you to know they never realized they were actually lighting their own flames. But we hope you know what this means now because you're living in a game of your own.)
Cato already has it all in his mind, the scene when he comes home – more honor and more fame definitely, more girls to fuck, more sacrificial weaklings to kill, more access to more deadly weapons, more everything– and how he would kill these 23 tributes to get it, including the girl beside him in the Training Center.
He tells her about this because nothing's wrong with it in his viewpoint, it's the truth anyway and her trust is essential in the alliance they would certainly build once in the midst of the game. So Cato boasts of what would happen and Clove does not pay any attention because in her mind, he never stood a chance. It's always been about her.
"You're overrated." Clove only says and finds herself disgustingly wanting to say more, so she tells him of how even at their training in District 2, everyone rooted for him. She apathetically says that they only spent the same number of years there but everyone knows him just because of his blood.
"Are you jealous?" He smirks. "Everyone just loves me. They love seeing me kill." I doubt that, Clove thinks but hands him weapons in the section they're working on. His trust is essential in the game she wants to play with the Careers once in the arena, (because she never considered the other district tributes as contenders) and a headstart is provided by being friends with him now. Not that constant competition for dominance is considered friendship.
Cato seems to want to prove what he said, so he picks up a handful of weapons, throws them exceptionally to the targets and smiles charmingly at her. She shrugs even though she's quite convinced now that he would make a good ally when it comes to killing the tributes off beautifully, and he takes her indifference as an insult. He furiously throws a spear straight to the heart of the dummy at the middle.
"And that's supposed to prove your point, how?" She only raises an eyebrow.
"You're too cold," He taps a finger to his chin. "and calculating."
No one seems to be paying them attention now in the Training Center because of the District 4 boy who's showing off with his hooks, so she supposes what she'll do is fine. She sneers at him too mockingly, tilts her head to the side, and in a move that even catches Cato by surprise, she lodges her dozen knives uninterruptedly to the dummy and frightens the trainer to death. (Suppose she wanted, she would have gotten the trainer killed.) It was perfect, her throw, and every knife is lodged at a certain body part of the dummy – both arms, center of the head, right in the chest, everywhere pointedly.
"Can you say I calculated that?" She whispers and he's surprised when her fingers stroke his jaw – surprisingly too warm and gentle in comparison to her aloof, ruthless grin – because some onlookers' eyes are on them now and no one thinks they're that acquainted, though it's perhaps a good thing no one saw her hand brush his quite harshly. She readies to leave and he wants to laugh too bad, when his inner palm bleeds and she's the one who left laughing.
She walks away and waves in goodbye when really, she just shows off her sleeve where she's apparently hidden a knife.
Cato knew he found his other extreme.
(So later that day he visits her room and plans to threaten her into spilling her techniques when he finds she isn't there. He's only turning to leave when a knife is placed at his throat and a body is pressed against him and Clove laughs and says, "You're too impulsive... and sultry.")
Children now are taught to be fearful of monsters – monsters they say exist under your bed. Or the kind of beasts that appear at night when all the world's asleep. They teach you to be afraid of them. You close your eyes and hold out till morning because you know they will disappear then. Silly myths, silly things to tell you when your forefathers knew exactly what the real monsters were.
Whispers taunted them, and in turn they hissed at their shadows. The dark never scared them. Because their forefathers didn't lie and make up stories about these beings. The world was once a menacing place, one you never would have thought to breathe the air of. But your parents and their grandparents and their great grandparents embraced it and all the immorality and ruthless monsters that thrived in it.
Because the only real monsters they knew then were the ones they saw in the mirror.
(And Cato frequented it more than anybody else.
They tell you it's because repentance affects his mind, because perhaps he wants to change, when really it's because weaklings keep appearing in front of him he had to make sure he wasn't one of them. He was a monster and he always will be – because he wants to be. A voluntary demon.
She never peered in it though, because she was always too sure.
We hope you read between the lines. We hope you know she was even more of a monster than he was.)
"How come you're never what I want and you're never what I get?" He asks fumingly when they fuck one night – they swore they would never make love, because that is for the weak, and they only have needs to keep going stronger and more alive– as she languidly puts on her clothes.
Clove scoffs. "Wrong. You try not to want me because you know you'd never get me. Not really."
Oh, I would. Because I get to kill you in the end.
The District 2 floor on the Capitol building that the tributes stay in is almost too deserted. Their stylists – a carbon copy of a wolf named Lycantra and jet black-haired, snake-eyed Theo and a company of babbling scullions – do not stand the atmosphere, they say, too much pressure perhaps. Their mentors go out drinking and inserting morphling to each other and attending the outrageous Capitol parties because apparently, that's what mentors from Career districts do at night. Apparently, rest isn't that needed since they're not going to exert much effort with their tributes, anyway. They just wait it out and grit their teeth for who wins.
Cato and Clove know this because they slip away at night to visit each other's rooms and try and determine who's more powerful. It's a ridiculous game. And it's a repulsive way but the only one, since tributes aren't allowed to hurt each other before the arena. So every night, they hurt each other but not in the way anyone would expect, and they relish a little elation at violating the rules.
Who knew how good it would feel to be rebels, most especially of the clandestine kind?
Every morning at breakfast when they see each other first after fucking, she sees a tiny bruise she made on the skin just below his left ear, and when they sit together, he touches the sore spot on her mid-thigh that's certainly his.
(They both want to kill each other for these marks, but we hope you know these aren't the only they made. We hope you know there is more to scars than those they leave on the outside. We hope you know better than them.)
And that night Clove told Cato he would never really get her, is another night that another objective in their game is initiated – he glares her down and kisses her hard and wraps her legs around his waist and pushes her up against his door. She has only started responding by scratching expectedly long polished nails to his bare back and biting his lips hard enough to draw blood when he opens the door (she barely notices) and throws her to the hall. He slams the door a little too loud and starts laughing. He could almost hear her fuming and striding aggressively to her own room.
Who doesn't get what they want now?
The second night he decides he prefers it when her teeth gnashes his skin, rather than the cold metal of her weapon. But swirling patterns and drawing tiny beads of blood, she still strokes his chest and collarbones very lightly with that exact knife.
"I want you to stop doing that." He almost purrs, and traces an enthusing fingertip to her hands and the stringently clutched knife before it joins the pile of sheared clothes in the corner. Breathing rather deeply, he leans in to excruciatingly bruise her lips with his – that's what he wants and it's a known fact he always gets it - but she turns away. How dare she fucking turn away?
A taunting smirk appears on her face, and in a single second, she grips his hair to the point of tearing it out and he's thrown across the room. In another second, her knees are pinning his arms down, pinning him down, in a straddling position. She scrapes her nails against his shoulder, his collarbone, and she laughs when she feels it, him trembling and when she sees it, him biting his lip.
"Since when do I do what you want?"
Since all this is leading to me getting to kill you in the end, darling. He never forgets, even at moments like this. I get to kill you in the end.
People used to say misery loves company and creates a paradox with their own words that misery is company. But we tell you what's a much better companion: fury.
You have always been taught that anger leads to trouble and possible danger, but you never figured out that danger and possible trouble could also lead to anger. We know of people who used that as an advantage, and ultimately they ended up dying in the end, but don't we all? That is the problem of your generation now. You use the past as a reason to be eaten by fear. And the problem of young blood before you that we have witnessed? They used fear as a reason to eat away at people's futures.
But nothing was wrong with that, no. At least with what they know.
The day before every Hunger Games, the audience quivers with excitement and this gets to the tributes who would have to get acquainted with death only a few hours counting down – and there is also fear in the atmosphere, but most of them use this as fuel to protect themselves. Heightened instincts. The Gamemakers sneer at those clever enough to figure out their precious arena within minutes, and laugh ridiculously at those who die without ever seeing the rest of it.
They have known this way before than we did, and that relayed to fury being company. Mutually seething and accepting and bleeding and dying and just bleeding– they knew each other more than anyone else.
(We hope you know ruthlessness streams from anger. We hope you know their anger was justified by the ruthlessness other people exploited.)
They were too clever to find out fury was a good company, and so they faced danger headfirst with a throbbing mindset and stifled bitterness – hurting each other in the process, and killing people off who weren't quite as furious as they were.
(We hope you realize that Cato and Clove and the hundred other 'cruel' ones never wanted to be part of this tale. There was never in their minds a hint of the revolution that changed Panem, but they were in their core the saviours of no one else other than themselves. Still, before anything else, slaughter was what they came for.)
The blood spilled – no, the bloodbath at the Cornucopia didn't quite live up to her expectations and only managed to quip her attention. Snug sitting on her first kill who happened to be District 9, Clove silently fumes about the girl from 12 who ran away from her just seconds ago when all she wanted was to target her as her first slaughter. She even wasted my damn knife. Unfortunately because of this, Clove's going to settle the fire girl's death as a mediocre one in the middle, because the last was certainly saved for Cato.
("You think I don't know how much you want to kill me..")
3... 2... 1... She has counted the seconds exactly as they came and went while on her circular metal plate, and then dives right in for the larceny of the necessities by the golden horn. And she acquires everything she wants for the moment.
She sits idly now, because she does not want to waste her effort when the tributes are all too preoccupied murdering each other, but everyone who comes within 10 feet of her immediately catches a fatally thrown knife. She got the set of blades that was undoubtedly for her and a pack of food anyway, and that is all she needed. But now that her supposed first kill escaped from her, the silent anger is taking its toll with making her aim better. Overall, 3 of the 11 dead bodies in the Cornucopia were hers, but that wasn't nearly enough.
Clove doesn't see him when he nears her but a sword is suddenly nudging her throat and a huge body is pressed against the curve of her back. She rolls her eyes and points her own knife to the person's hip just an inch from her own and whispers so low none of Panem would hear, "Why, aren't you a little molesting nymphomaniac," and chuckles morbidly – louder now – at the grinning Cato.
"You didn't get enough back in training at the Capitol, huh?" She grunts and everyone thinks it's of the weapons he holds in a large pack, but we hope you know they mean something nearer to the pain and pleasure they give each other.
In a single flash, they hear the footsteps and they poise to kill back to back with strength still undeterred and glares as deathly as ever – two knives at the ready for Clove and a blood-coated sword for Cato – when the approachers lay their own packs down and raise their hands, which was dangerous in itself considering the District 2 tributes can kill them anytime. The dark-haired burly boy and the gorgeous blonde girl from District 1 speak in a placating tone the one word they were certainly awaiting, "Allies?" And then they look pointedly at each other. They knew they would have worked better with only two but Licinius and Enobaria's clear reminder rings through, "You can kill them brutally later."
(How unfortunate is it, that instead of getting murdered by them, the girl on fire is the cause of both Glimmer and Marvel's deaths? Cato's blood boils at the thought of how much this girl has stolen from him, even robbing him of the opportunity to give the audience the best show among the last hunger games with his allies' deaths. Clove is indifferent to it, until she thinks of how the sponsors would go to that girl instead of them because of her rising number of kills. Then Clove's blood boils too.
It's a thought hushed up in the deepest recesses of her mind, but it remains till the moment that rock hits her head resulting in her death – the memory of fear. She remembers it clearly, the poison of those insect mutations unearthing what terrifies her the most, and it's the circumstance of losing. Cato goes home, with the same deathly smirk on his face, while she rots, rots in the arena, left to die even by the hovercraft. Flittery things claw at her skin, signifying her defeat. The whole of 2 celebrates at their umpteenth victor, and it's not her – that's what she fears the most.
That night the girl from 12 dropped the tracker jacker nests on them, is the night she kills Glimmer and another ally of theirs.
And later, but not much later, Katniss – they finally learn her name – kills Marvel off, avenging the death of her little ally from District 11. Cato and Clove grit their teeth, because just the day before, they were discussing whose murder would be Marvel's. At least one good thing comes from it, a big pack of food supposedly for all the careers.
How unfortunate is it that their sponsors doubled once all tributes from 1 and 4 were gone?
They never deemed it awful, because only good came from it with their circumstances in the midst of the carnage.
We hope you see how it all plays out on the eyes of those who live for this. We hope you understand by now how this game works from the sides that embrace its immorality.)
You have heard of Finnick Odair and how his life materialized on the hands and bodies of the Capitol's market and you, perhaps, have cringed away at it. You have heard of the other victors' fixation for morphling, and how everyone that Haymitch Abernathy loved was taken away from him so he turned to being wasted on liquor.
But those living on District 2 never learn this until they are victors. The respect and veneration of their district is only what they seek because this is the only thing they are taught to value. To become a Capitol's puppet, one must never see the real Capitol ways. When you're already threaded and harnessed and controlled, that's the moment they open your eyes.
We hope you know the victors of our story never see this too. And if they have, they thought it inconsequential to being conquerors of their own selves and heroes of where they come from. We hope you know they never condoned this kind of evil, just because they never knew.
Dissipated. Everything is gone. With a blast resounding from the ground they've been walking on mere minutes ago, a substantial leaning of the odds underpinning their victory changes – and lamentation takes its natural course. Clove blinks, not entirely ingesting the scene before her. Weapons diminished to useless piles under ashes. Ashes that once were food key to their survival. Cato ending a life in his thrashing around.
Clove's head spins, but not because of rage clouding her vision, instead with a steady gray of non-comprehension and Cato's does too, but because of his own embodiment of fury and with a flurrying red of unrestraint.
The District 3 boy had a family; a sister eleven years of age and a father who was never really there. But dead is the only way we remember him and no one ever yearned to rectify facts, not anymore in this new world. We know Cato killed him with ruthless haste, and his neck was broken by such strong arms, and how unfortunate it was that an explosion was his last memory.
But the fire reminds our people of who's at fault, the girl on fire who will later kill Marvel off – and you realize this, life is only a string of incessant deaths at passing hands.
The boy from her district is still bristling, polishing what's left of their weapons with a malicious glint in his eyes that only ever appears when he gets this urge to kill and she takes her chance. What's worse than knowing he would almost certainly murder her with feral recklessness? Getting this close and being let live just because he wouldn't let anyone, not even his prey, in.
That is the moment Clove remembers home and the nearly guiltless looks on her parents' faces and she thinks, oh how she thinks, "I bet you're proud of me now," but their real expressions on the side of the television screen would not even be close. Eyes dead and mouths agape and hands quivering – her mom and dad were always educated about the mindset of the Capitol, but this is different because this is their daughter. And this is what she never knew.
On the other side of town, Cato's mom and dad cheer in fleeting views of conquest because this moment has finally come for their spawn – hands quivering and mouths in tight smirks and eyes brightly lit. But there's always an underlying worry that she might be stronger of a killer than him, because they watch her and see that she was more of a monster than he was, like what we want you to understand.
And then days pass and they're stuck with death's cloud looming over their heads when they never reckon whose head it really is for in the end. (Those days are the worst. But we hope you know in those years, days are only counted worst. We hope you know there are never good ones.)
The arena has been quiet for a short while now, and Cato deduces that day might be one for a little gamemaker intervention. Moments later, it turns out he's right.
A little static. A clear loud voice. Claudius Templesmith's. "Congratulations to the final 6 contenders of the 74th Hunger Games! We would like to inform you that there has been a slight revision of the rules regarding the games' victors. Both tributes from the same district may be declared winners if they are the last two alive."
And before they know it, the images are flashing in their eyes of shattered bottles of wine and packets of morphling and knives, certainly a lot of penknives and daggers hidden in her sleeve when she comes to him – oh victory, home sweet home for the both of us. (But in the following nights they spend in the arena with only their pinky fingers touching now, they still horribly see it, how so very slowly they would kill each other. The rules in the game at the arena changed, but what about the one only the two of them played?)
Cato looks to Clove immediately after the announcement and knows she's thinking of their mentors – Enobaria gritting her teeth, Licinius pacing back and forth, because this means an impasse to their ongoing bet on their tributes and perhaps because they think the Victors' Village would be getting a little more crowded. They laugh when they talk about this and not about their own views of the rule change, and it's almost as if they seem... normal. Normal friends talking of normal opinions about a normal world. But no, if you knew Panem by then, 'normal' was never a word in anybody's vocabularies, much less theirs.
So later when he tells her he'd like to win by himself and she brusquely says the feeling's mutual, they both know they're lying and celebrate by getting wasted away on each other's scorching touches. (An instant Panem never watched, but we are telling you now because you would want to know.)
And afterwards they talk of their dreams, how they would let the foxy red-haired girl die in the hands of Thresh, and how they would kill him then, and how they would rest for a little while before they consign death for the girl on fire – because beautiful is the only way they'd want it to be – and how they would let nature take course for Lover Boy.
They laugh madly and this is how Panem thinks they celebrate. How wrong they always were.
The feast comes with another of Templesmith's ostentatious edicts.
Their request remains silenced at the Capitol, overshadowed by Haymitch's act with sending the fire girl sleep syrup, but Enobaria and Licinius know of course how to play the hush. The chances are at the palm of their blood-caked hands now, with the star-crossed lovers a treacherous distance away from the Cornucopia and the two of them at the lunge for District 11. But the only reason they care to go was to pilfer Katniss of her Lover Boy's linctus – the most excruciating of the tortures they came upon. Being in the presence of the other only meant mastering psychological warfare, and they want to capture that angle at this point of the games because they wanted to show Panem that brutality and strength are not the only they have going for them.
And later, they figure with regret they should have stayed with brutality and strength.
Because later, Thresh kills Clove and Cato kills Thresh and the string of deaths we told you about never really ends.
And later, his last memory of her was an eerie laugh when they daydream of Katniss' beautiful slaughter, "Can this be your victory gift to me?" Clove asks and Cato laughs because he would truly give that girl's death to her in exchange for her own sweet murder on his hands. "But I get to kill you in the end."It's the first time he's voiced it out and it feels too fucking good to have Clove smile maliciously as if she would be the one killing him.
"The end..."She mumbles mock-innocently with eyes very much wide and he does a twirl the exact way Katniss did the night of their interviews and this brings the Capitol audience rolling on the floor and tapping like seals.
And somehow, they go back to plotting their deaths so cosily with each other that Cato can't help but use a penknife to draw on her forearm and this is what the Capitol doesn't see and she laughs again a laugh so spine-chilling that it's the last thing imprinted on the compartment of his mind that was certainly only for her at that point.
Oh, writhing, clawing from under the sheets – this is the ill fervour of memory, the poor sieve of once intense sensations. But this is one thing he would save with his regret over not getting the chance to slay her. Oh, writhing, clawing from under the sheets.
Cato does not want to remember Clove the one moment she was hurting because of a person other than him. He does not want to recall her pleading of his name. He does not want to think of the way the blood dissipated from under her head and he certainly does not want to feel again the jealousy he held for Thresh when he bashed Clove's head to the point of fatality. She was his and only his to kill.
He does not want to remember, so he replays her eerie laugh over and over until he lost himself.
You don't die by yourself. No one does.
(When she died, she died with pleasure over Enobaria's defeat on the District 2 mentors' bet. Odd last thought. But when she hurt, she hurt with Cato because she's had this visage over and over that it was never a probability she would die on another tribute's conscience – and after a few milliseconds of ruminating, he never had one, as had she. We are drowning you with words. But we only hope it echoes in your head... that when she hurt, she hurt with him.)
We hope you understood how Katniss Everdeen killed Cato with her arrow out of pity, and we hope you realize the last thing he ever felt in his life was gratitude. Good things like this are few and far between and even then, they're sheltered in memories of wolf mutations and unwarranted blood spilled and feral howls that haunt you in your sleep.
Panem cheered and cried at the loss of two star-crossed people – no, not lovers, never lovers – and were blinded to how they were part of the revolution. Albeit indefinitely on the Capitol's side, but nevertheless still a fraction of the sphere Katniss Everdeen and President Snow and President Coin spun within their power-dyed hands.
But that's not what we hope to tell you about.
We hope to tell you of how when Cato turned his attention away from the torturous cacophony of tearing flesh and untamed howls, he imagined this was Clove's beautiful way of ending him. He thought of the mutations' teeth as different daggers and knives and we hope you know it was his only peace at the time his body was being shredded and so abstractly dismantled.
"Win." Her last word before she drifted off to oblivion, and he's sorry, you have to know he's sorry about this now. Because winning entailed killing her after everything. He is dying, and he dies with her last word.
But his thoughts are streaming so openly now and when will it end, when will it ever end, and he contradicts himself by thinking she wins over him and she's making him eat his words – "Oh, I get to kill you in the end" – with that bloodcurdling laugh of hers that always made him think of ripping her beautiful fucking mouth off. They were born as monsters and he could only want now for their images to fade as nothing but such, when even in his death all the pictures he sees are of the people he killed so lusciously and those he'd never get the chance to kill too.
"You're too cold... and calculating." He once told her in the Training Center.
"You're too impulsive... and sultry."She once teased him in her room.
But now they could not throw assumptions anymore, because perhaps they memorized the curve of each other's shoulders and he knew too well the dangerous angle of her jaw and she hated too much the bruises she made on his hips – and because now, they just lay there cold and lifeless. On the memories of those who remember.
And that is what we want for you. To remember the postscripts as much as you learned the story of the revolution and the bad men and the heroes who saved the day – still, more importantly, the little cracks that made this revolution what it had been. We hope you hear the words we speak and we hope you know how footnotes play out now on history books – the reckoning of monsters who lived years and years before you.
"How come you're never what I want and you're never what I get?" His was a genuine curiosity of a child taught of nothing else but bloodlust.
"Wrong. You try not to want me because you know you'd never get me. Not really."Oh, how right she always was even when you always condoned menacing as wrong.
(Because the world is a selfish, selfish place and no one ever really gets what they deserve and what they want to deserve, only the infinite gray of in-betweens.)
We hope you know now that there are always two sides to a fire – warming and scorching. And we hope you know how they always danced on the scorching side of the flames. We are not giving reason for the tale they weaved. We only seek to pronounce the truth with syllables that resound of the bloodbath we witnessed and told you about.
We are sorry. We don't mean to sound revolting.
We just want you to know. We just want you to wonder.
And for now we just want to turn to a new page.
Author's Note: I guess I just really wanted to capture the notion that was once mentioned in the book that they were perhaps only half-sane, especially Cato. I hope this isn't too awful.
I guess I just really wanted to capture the notion that was once mentioned in the book that they were perhaps only half-sane, especially Cato. I hope this isn't too awful.