This ship gives me a lot of feelings, so I wanted to pay tribute to them by writing a little something for them. Hope everyone enjoys and please make sure to review!
Cato is six the first time he sees blood being spilt. He's a Level 1 at The Academy and he and the rest of the kids in his Level watch the trainees in Level 11 skewer prisoners on death row.
No one is ever hanged here in District 2.
After that they start their weapons training.
He is clumsy with knives. He can't master the wrist movement that's required in throwing them. He's better with the spear, but he's best with the sword. He's told to treat it like an extension of his arm, and as Cato spars with another boy in his level he finds that he likes having a deadly arm.
He snubs his nose up at the bow and arrow. Father says that long distance weapons are for cowards. When you kill someone, you should be close enough to see the life leave their eyes. Cato wants to be just like his Father.
"Listen up Level 3," The Instructor snaps. She pats the girl on the shoulder. "This is Clove. She's just been bumped up from Level 2. Respect her." Then the Instructor moves into the corner while Level 3 begins to set up their targets.
Cato and his friends have to smother their snickers behind their hands.
The new girl is small and scrawny, with dark hair and a bored expression. She moves to set up a target at the end of the training room, her lips turning down into a scowl. No one understands why she would be Elevated early. Kids who are Elevated early are normally twice the size of everyone else in their age group, or are exceptionally good with a specific weapon.
She must be good with a weapon, then.
Cato grabs his sword, but he and everyone else purposely line up along the wall, leaving Clove standing alone in the center on the room. The girl narrows her gaze at all of them before squaring her shoulders. She flicks her wrist out and her ponytail swishes at the movement.
Cato didn't even remember seeing her pick up the knives.
She hits the bull's-eye every single time.
After that she is officially accepted into their Level.
Cato is twelve now and in Level 7. Today is a sparring day and tomorrow is his first Reaping.
He has to grip the handle on his sword tighter then usually because his hand is slick with nervous sweat.
He walks into the training room, reads over the list of sparring pairs, and impatiently waits for his assigned partner to show up.
When Clove finally walks into the room, he straightens up and twirls his sword in his hand in an attempt at intimidation.
She smirks at him.
They're allowed to nick each other when they spar, with only the chest, neck, and head areas off limits. Everywhere else is fair game. Pain is their teacher.
He and Clove stand their ground and then they're both moving. He moves forward. She moves backward. He lunges and swipes his sword at her arm but she is quick. She spins out of the way before flinging one of her knives. He barely manages to dodge it.
They continue like this for some time until one of her knives skims his right calf. He freezes, the stinging pain in his leg leaving him stunned for a moment.
He sees red, throws his sword at her. She moves out of the way and laughs as it clatters to the floor.
The next day his name is not called. He feels a mix of excitement and relief.
The Reaping is a day of celebration, so there will be no training at the Academy today.
He hears it when he's walking back home. A snarl, followed by a lot of cursing. Cato moves toward the noise, and hopes that there might be a fight.
What he finds is Clove, cornered by two sixteen year old boys in Level 11. She must have said something that pissed them off. They're twice her size and moving in on her quickly.
Cato thinks that it's a shame that they're not allowed to carry their preferred weapons with them outside of the Academy. He would have loved to see Clove embed her knives into these older boys.
Her head swivels in his direction and she spots him. She gives him a vicious glare. He understands the message. This is her fight and he is not allowed to interfere.
He manages to listen to her screams for four minutes before his feet start to propel him forward.
Cato is tall for his age and he's strong, but this is not a fair fight. The two boys move their fists onto him but he takes it in stride. Clove disappears in the mist of it all. He punches and kicks with all the strength he possesses and is satisfied when he hears their grunts and shouts of pain.
He still limps away with the shit having been beat out of him, though.
The next day in sparring, Clove lets him sink the tip of his sword into her thigh.
He is thirteen, she is twelve, and they're both in Level 8. They have become friends. This makes sense to Cato, since they're easily the two strongest trainees in their Level.
It's evening; they've both finished up at the Academy for the day and are on Cato's couch watching the 71st Hunger Games.
The girl from District 7 buries an axe in the back of another tribute's head. Clove lets out a low whistle. Neither of them blink an eye at all the blood and gore currently on the television screen.
"I told you so," Clove says, grabbing a handful of popcorn out of the bowl that sits between them. It's chocolate flavored.
Cato grunts. "I still think the boy from District 4 has a chance."
"Not likely. There's a look in the Mason girl's eyes. She wants this." Clove watches the screen intently as Johanna Mason tracks down another tribute, blood dripping off of her axe. She finds one moments later.
A shriek of pain comes out through the speakers.
They have just been Elevated into Level 9 when Clove kisses him for the first time.
He was not expecting it, so he shoves her backward and stares down at her sharply.
The corner of Clove's mouth curls. Cato knows that she is not used to failing or being rejected. "What?" she snaps. She opens her mouth again as if she's going to say something else before she quickly turns around and stalks away.
Fifteen minutes later he catches her with a boy from Level 10. His blood burns and after he splits the other boy's lip he realizes that his reaction is precisely what Clove wanted.
He doesn't care. He thinks he should, since playing a game by Clove's rules means certain destruction, but he doesn't. He roughly takes her hand and leads her away.
He is sixteen and he has her pushed up against the wall in the training room. They are hidden by racks of weapons. He's pretty sure no one is around, but the thought of getting caught thrills him.
Her legs are wrapped around his waist, squeezing him. He rolls his hips into hers and she lets out a breathy, helpless moan that sends pleasure shooting up his spine. One if his hands are shoved up her shirt, skimming over her ribs and breasts before he lowers it, dipping his fingers under the waistband of her pants. She wiggles with impatience and then, without warning, sinks her teeth into his shoulder. It hurts and he's pretty sure she broke the skin. He gasps and shudders as she laps her tongue over the bite.
He hears footsteps and stops his movements when several people enter the training room. Clove claws at his back and hisses for him to set her down. He complies, but before she skirts away he kisses her and then nips at her neck once more for good measure.
She smiles at him, and it's real. There's no malice behind it.
Tomorrow is the Reaping for the 74th Hunger Games.
She is up on the stage; her name has been called. She waves at the thundering crowd and Cato is pretty sure that she's the happiest that he's ever seen her.
He volunteers before the name for the boy can even be picked.
The roar of the crowd is deafening and people smack his shoulder good naturedly as he moves up onto the stage. He has never felt so proud.
He stands next to her and flashes her a grin. They will make a formidable team. They will be the last tributes standing.
She smiles back at him and Cato turns his head away. But out of the corner of his eye he thinks he might have seen her smile slip a little.
They are on the train and the Capitol has finally come into view.
"Don't worry, Cato," she says and he quirks an eyebrow at her. "You'll be returning to District 2 very soon." The corner of her mouth tilts up into something wicked. "In pieces."
Training is easy. They've been doing this their entire lives.
Most of the other tributes are pathetic. Clove laughs at the tributes studying camouflage. "Do they think that we won't find them?" she remarks.
He nudges her shoulder with his own. "We'll find them."
She casually throws a knife at a target. It hits the center with a soft thud.
"An eleven," Clove snarls. "District 12 got an eleven."
Cato shifts on the sofa in the floor they share. Watching Clove pace about in a rage is…intriguing. He knows why she's furious. To Panem, Katniss Everdeen looks like the girl to beat. Clove and Cato are no longer at the top of the pack.
"It's okay." His voice is low and Clove turns her head and meets his gaze. "I'll slit her open at the navel. We can watch her innards spill."
Clove takes a deep breath and nods. She is now calm.
It's the night before they're to be shipped off to the arena.
They've gone this far before, but not since the Reaping.
His skin is hot and hers is slick. They push against each other, their breaths quick and shallow.
It is easy to get lost in pleasure, Cato thinks. It's easy to forget.
She clings to him tighter and tighter, and when her moment comes her nails dig into the skin of his back and she cries out in his ear. This is the only time where she is vulnerable. Only for him. The thought makes him light headed.
He will speak of this to no one. This is just for them.
The countdown is over. She has found her knives and he has found his sword.
Alliances will be made. Alliances will be broken. They will destroy everything in their path.
They turn to each other and laugh when the announcement comes that there can be two victors this year if they're both from the same District.
It is almost too easy.
Three steps and she's in his arms and he has never felt so happy. They will go home. No one else stands a chance.
But best of all, they will win. Together.
"I want her," she states. She is curled up against him and the night sky stretches above them. He can tell that her hand is on one of her knives, like always.
"No," he says smoothly, shifting slightly in the sleeping bag.
"I'll make it slow," she reasons. "I'll give the audience something that they'll remember. She'll be begging me to finish her off. And you know Lover Boy won't be able to do anything about it."
"No," he says again. "I want to do it."
She sighs and the next thing he knows she is pinching his side. "Cato." He likes it when she says his name. "I'll make it good. Just let me do this. I promise, you'll be proud."
He's already proud, but doesn't say this out loud. "Fine," he relents. He's not sure why he does, but he's pretty sure she's smiling right about now, a real smile.
Maybe that's why.
He volunteers to take first watch. Her breaths eventually even out as she falls asleep. He finds listening to be soothing.
He's not sure if he loves her, but he thinks she might be the only person for him.
He scouts out the area surrounding The Feast while she goes in.
He thinks he might have found the redhead's trail when he hears her screaming. Screaming his name.
He's not sure what he feels; panic, rage, but most of all he's afraid.
He finds her lying next to the Cornucopia, her head bashed. He knows who did it.
He falls to his knees beside her and takes her hand in his. It's cold.
"Stay with me," he begs, voice cracking. There is pain, so much pain. It scares him. Cato didn't think he could feel pain like this.
But the cannon sounds he knows she's gone.
His mouth opens and he wails, and it's a noise filled with hate.
He's coming for the rest of them.
He lobs off Thresh's head with one fluid movement. He's pretty sore; their fight had been long. It's raining. He can barely see.
Killing before now had come easy to him, but it had only ever been a necessity.
But as he hears Thresh's head hit the ground he sucks in a deep breath. He enjoyed this.
He hopes that he's made her proud.
He grabs his pack and takes off. Three more to go.
It's horrific. The mutts are shredding into him and he's screaming. He'll never win. He'll never go home. If she was here she'd be furious with him. He was supposed to win. They can't both go down.
They were supposed to be unstoppable.
He says it, the one word he doesn't want to say, and relief courses through him when the girl from District 12 points an arrow at him.
He's in his final thoughts. They're filled of Clove and of home.
He wishes that he'd never volunteered, but he wishes that they hadn't called her name even more.