Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
AN: I haven't written anything in years. In fact, I'm in the process of editing old work. However, finding THG (books, and then movie) has reignited my love of fanfiction. I'm a die hard Katniss/Peeta fan, but there is something about fanfic that makes me ship something else. After watching the movie and seeing Cato in all his gloriousness (yes, I know he's 4 years younger than me), I knew I would have to seek out some Katniss/Cato fiction. They're pretty much my new Dramione. So far, I've a read a few of the stories on the site. I have to say SergeantPixie's "In Another World" is my favorite.
A little back story on this: This is an AU story. There is no Capitol. They don't fight in the Games. I know the story ends a bit abruptly, but it's meant to. This is a look into their lives, of what could be (of what will be) if Katniss decides to give Cato a chance.
I can't be no superman,
But for you, I'll be super human
-One Direction "Save You Tonight"
When Katniss realizes Peeta is late, a minute turns into two, two into five, five into ten, and ten into thirty. She's tired of waiting – it's not in her nature to wait so long for someone – and she's more than ready to leave.
She stands up, scouring for the nearest exit. As she spots it and begins to move toward it, a pair of arms grabs her from behind to grasp her before she falls. She wasn't even sure when she lost her step.
"I never would have thought you were a damsel in distress, Catnip," jokes a very familiar, annoying voice.
Katniss looks at her rescuer, trying not to let a smile grace her lips.
"How did you know my nickname?" she wonders. Only Gale ever called her that.
"I know lots of things about you," he says and Katniss can't help notice a faint twinkling in his bright blue eyes. "So, where was the lovely Miss Everdeen heading before she fell in my arms?"
"I didn't fall. And I was going to see my boyfriend." Katniss says, with emphasis on the last part.
"Yeah, I heard about you and Pita Bread," Cato mentions. At Katniss' surprise, he continues, "I told you I know a lot of things about you. So, where is he?"
Katniss' silence fills up the vast room in a way that nothing else possibly could. As it does, Cato continues staring at her.
Without laughing, Cato says, "I take it Prince Charming isn't exactly so charming?"
Katniss smiles a bit forcefully before she answers, "Prince Charming's very busy. Turns out he can't make it to Rome with me."
"Who'she busy with?" Cato questions, raising his eyebrows. Katniss scowls at him for even thinking such a thing.
"Peeta wouldn't do that," she answers firmly, mostly for herself. "He loves me. He wouldn't do that."
"And how much of that do you actually believe?" he asks her, knowing he's being harsher than necessary when she won't even look at him. "Come on, Katniss. You and I both know how he is. He simply lives in the moment. How long until he breaks your heart?"
She doesn't answer. She only walks away, offended by how he described Peeta. Cato was wrong. He didn't know Peeta at all.
It doesn't take long for him to catch up to her, his long legs moving twice as fast as hers. She hadn't realized she'd been running.
"I didn't mean to insult you back there," he mentions.
"No," she replies, "Just my choice of boyfriend."
"Katniss," he says, and he almost sounds like a friend, "just consider what I said. If Peeta is the same Peeta I knew, taught to be like me, then he's not worth your time."
He gives her a small nod and leaves before she can reply. It seems ironic that Cato – Cato, of all people – was warning her about Peeta, considering that he used to be his mentor. Then again, they weren't on the best of terms according to Gale.
She watches his disappearing figure, shaking her head from all the what ifs and maybes. She's with Peeta (at least she thinks she is) and decides her trip to Rome will only strengthen their relationship as they take time apart.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?
As she walks the length of the terminal, she ignores the fact that her eyes keep searching for a tall blond boy with bright blue eyes the same shade as the Atlantic Ocean.
Two weeks into her stay in Rome, Katniss receives a call from her frantic sister. She can barely make out anything her sister is saying except for something about 'Peeta', 'redhead hussy', and 'I'm so so so so sorry'. Then, everything clicks. Katniss politely tells Prim 'thank you' and hangs up.
She isn't surprised – at the very least, she tells herself she isn't. The truth was Cato was right and she should've known better than to trust a boy. As such, Peeta Mellark would forever be Peeta Mellark.
Katniss can feel the gears work in her brain. She decides that she'll spend her next two weeks in Rome getting tan, fresh, and rejuvenated before she has to face Peeta in person. She'll show him what he's lost – as she's coming up with the grand demise of the male populace, she falls asleep picturing his face filled with regret when he realizes what he's lost.
It's been a few days, so she leaves her hotel in a beautiful floral sundress that barely grazes her knees and slips a few fingers into her wavy, windblown tresses. Today, she feels as if she can conquer the world and no one can stop her.
She reaches her mark, the ruins of the city, and finds herself sitting on a bench gazing at its beauty. Although she's seen it many times, she finds herself overpowered by its magnificence.
The sound of a church bell makes its way throughout the city, signifying the time. Katniss jumps, startled. As she walks away from the ruins, she begins to have the feeling that she is being followed. Not paying attention, she runs into a stranger.
"I'm beginning to think that you're obsessed with me," says the stranger with the recognizable voice.
Katniss shakes out of her daze and finds herself face-to-face with Cato. Again.
She retorts, "I'm beginning to think that you're stalking me."
He smiles as he replies, "You know me. I can't stay away from a beautiful woman." Katniss tries to resist the urge to blush uncontrollably.
She says, "I never knew you were going to Rome."
He smirks at her, "There are a lot of things you don't know about me, Katniss Everdeen," he tells her in a suggestive tone. She blinks too quickly, missing his changing expression. "So, where's Mellark?"
She ignores him and he takes that for an answer, so he changes the subject and asks, "How long are you staying Rome?"
"Supposedly Saturday," she replies, "but now? I don't know."
"You sound bored," he mentions.
She replies, "The city is losing its spark."
He rolls his eyes as he responds, "You've only been to the tourist areas of Rome."
"What are you talking about, Cato?" she scowls.
"I mean, Everdeen, that you're visiting the places in Rome that are marked for tourists. Sure, the ruins are exciting, but after the twentieth trip there, you begin to realize they're just that – ruins."
She decides to bite, "And what exactly is the real Rome?"
"It depends," he says slowly, taking a step closer to Katniss. "What are you doing tomorrow?"
This time, Katniss steps back, mildly surprised by Cato's question. Did Cato just ask her out? No, it couldn't possibly be. She shakes her head, realizing he just asked her what her plans for tomorrow were. From the look on his face, it had been the insinuation she was afraid of.
"Are you asking me out, Cato?" she asks, raising an amused eyebrow. When he doesn't say a word, but merely smiles – a smile, not his signature smirk – she knows she's right.
She also reminds herself that she and Cato are sort of friends – or something like that – and that it's perfectly normal for friends to hang out together.
"Listen, I didn't mean to scare you, Katniss."
"I'm not scared," she vehemently claims.
"Think about it this way," he offers. "When Peeta hears about you gallivanting across Rome with me, he's sure to pull out the stick from his ass."
Her lips curl into a smile – a real smile, not a fake one reserved for the many people that disappointed her – and she's attracted to the idea, although she probably shouldn't be.
She decides to bat her eyelashes at him – in what she hopes is a seductive manner – and casually mention, "So, tomorrow?"
Katniss wakes up in the middle of the night and realizes she has a date with Cato. Out of everyone in the world, it had to be him. She doesn't know whether to laugh, be excited, or cry, so she lies in bed listening to an old Italian tune.
Her alarm sounds at a quarter to nine. She's ready to press the snooze button, call him, and cancel, but there are two problems. One, she doesn't have his number. Two, she doesn't really want to cancel. Or, she thinks she doesn't. Yet.
She stands outside the grand hotel entrance and looks for any sign of him. Right when she's about to go back inside, he shows up twenty minutes late with a flashy black motorcycle that he can't expect her to get on.
She jerks backwards when it stops mere inches from her feet.
He shrugs at her as he leans against his bike, folding his arms across his chest. "The Italians have no concept of time."
"You're American," she says through her teeth.
She wants to leave – rush back into that waiting suite twelve floors above ground – but something stops her. As he stands in front of her in old jeans, his signature white v-neck, and that damned leather jacket, she has to admit he looks good. She can't go around thinking these things.
"You still in?" he prods, his voice breaking her thoughts. She wants to say no. Her mind tells her to say no a million times over.
Instead, she is snarky. "You want me to sit there? On that? In this?"
He shrugs. "It's just a little dust."
"A little dust?" she shrieks. "That bike looks like it's gone through a desert and back!"
"It won't bite," Cato mentions, softly this time.
She brings her leg over the seat of the bike and shifts semi-awkwardly behind him, trying to find a comfortable position. It's a weird feeling – she can't describe it – being this close to Cato. She's not sure she hates it.
He presses on the pedal as the engine makes a sound that is sure to wake up the city of Rome. Katniss wraps her arms tighter around Cato and leans into his back, ready to experience a Rome – and really, a life – she's never seen.