A/N: Since seeing the movie, I've been very inspired. I figured I'd pay homage to one of the Hunger Games' more traditional couples. This is different from most anything of what I've written, and for the first time in ages, I don't think I'm channeling a Vampire Diaries character. Enjoy it while it lasts xD
Note: POV switches after every pagebreak between Rue and Thresh's perspectives. I'm not a fan of these much, honestly, but this is how the fic worked out the best.
Little Girl, Gentle Giant
I knew what my classmates said about me. I was the big, hulking black guy, intimidating anyone shorter than five foot nine. They took my silence to be stupidity, and they took my strength to be danger. They were scared of me. Everyone was.
Being silent didn't mean I was deaf, but people sure as hell acted like it. Because over the years, I'd hear everything they called me. Hulk. Scary. Monster. Creepy.
The last one was a joke. It's funny how life works that way. My most harmless nickname was something I'd become in a matter of years.
That didn't matter. Because even before the Games, people were too scared to be around me. And that's how I liked it.
I liked being alone, up in my tree where no one could bother me.
And then, one day, someone did.
Six mouths to feed was a hard task for anyone, much less someone like me. Small, wispy, and barely twelve years old, I don't think anyone expected little Rue to be the kind of girl that's up well before dawn and asleep well after sunset, spending the day at harvest until my knuckles would bleed. But it's okay. I liked harvest.
It meant I got to sing.
Some days were better than others, and when the storm clouds would roll in, I'd whistle a tune and my fingers would move faster. Peacekeepers didn't like us singing in the fields. Even something like that could be an act of rebellion.
Besides, if I sung all of the time, I'd have no voice left.
Most years, Reapings mean nothing to me. Another one of my classmates walks to the stage and stands in front of the entire district, terrified and looking like they're about to pass out on the spot. If anything, it's enjoyable. I get to laugh at the faces of the people that hate me. I can root on the girls' deaths as they mount the stage, because these are the same girls that've been calling me ugly and huge and a monster since I was thirteen.
But this year, it's bad.
I know the girl that mounts the stage. I see her working in the field, and I can watch her from my tree as she walks home at night. She's always the last to leave the harvest, not going home until she's sure she's gotten her work in for the day.
Her name's Rue. And, like the creep everyone thinks I am, I've been watching her grow up for years.
It's not as bad as it sounds. I don't want to hurt her. I don't want to do anything bad to her. When I look at her, I see something in her that my classmates are too hardened to be capable of. Rue is kindness. The little girl is kindness and optimism in the face of all that she has going on in her life. She gets her job done. She works in the field. She gets good grades.
We've never spoken before, but I know that we don't have to. District Eleven isn't a home for the speaking. It's a home for what's unspoken—for music.
And, as I mount the stage after hearing my name called, I remain silent.
Everything I've heard about Thresh is scary.
"Rue, who's that? Up in the tree?"
I turn to my sister, Katria, and see her pointing at the towering maple. Thresh' tree. The one I never dare jump into.
"Thresh," I say.
"What's he doin' up there?"
"I don't know."
"Well, it looks awful lonely."
"Maybe that's why he likes it," I say, then pause. "Maybe he's sad."
"Why would he be sad?"
"No one really likes him, Katria."
I think back to the rumors, to everything I've heard my classmates say about him. Each story is more wild then the next.
Finally, I tell her, "I don't know."
I decide I can't protect Rue. She isn't mine to protect. What I'm feeling doesn't matter, because I know she wouldn't want me to. That little girl is smart—her grades are better at twelve than mine would ever be. Maybe, she was even smart enough to outlast everyone else.
Maybe she could even outlast me.
I'm taken aback, because as we step onto the train, she wordlessly throws her arms around me in a hug. We've never seen each other to face to face before the Reaping. I stumble for a second, because even though she weighs a third of what I do, I don't know this feeling. I don't know how it feels to have someone other than my Nana touch me.
I want to hug her back. I want to say something reassuring and kind enough to match who she is, to say the words of comfort she deserves to hear. Instead, I just stand there, like the dumb idiot everyone thinks I am.
"You'll be okay," she whispers. Maybe if she was taller, she would've said it right in my ear. "You're going to win, Thresh."
Thresh. She knows my name.
I pull away from Rue, and she gives me a very small smile. She isn't afraid of me. She isn't afraid of the fact that I'm bigger and stronger and older than her and probably anyone else in these Games.
Because she knows I can't kill her. I don't have it in me to kill that little girl.
"Who does that little girl think she is? Scoring a seven?"
"I'm twice as tall as she is, how the hell did she score higher than me?"
"Pooling the names of twelve-year olds in the Reapings, that's sick."
This is all I hear from my fellow tributes. Most are too self-absorbed and focused on winning to pay attention to me, but the few that do can't offer more than some comment on how small I am. And, it's true—I am small. I'm barely five feet tall and I couldn't tip the scale at seventy pounds. While all of the other sixteen, seventeen and eighteen year olds are plotting ways to kill each other, they already count me out, because as far as they're concerned, I've been dead since the second my name was drawn.
I don't like that name. I don't like the way I hear it roll off of everyone's tongues. It's like they're sizing me up.
As the boy from District Two shoves past me on his way to the swords one day, I hear him say very distinctly, "Out of my way, kid."
I'm almost thrown to the ground by the force of his hit, that's how little I am in comparison. I'm angry and I'm upset, but I don't let that show for more than a second. Because, even though the other tributes might count me out because of my size, what they think is my biggest flaw is actually my best chance at winning. They won't see me coming. So in the mean time, I exhale, wiping my face of any expression and hoping that no one saw me for that split second I was unhinged.
But someone did.
"Out of my way, kid."
It happens so fast. I watch across the gym as the blonde boy from District Two shoves Rue out of his way. I stare, and feel angry. He'll have plenty of time to fight when the games begin. Starting now by picking on a defenseless girl is downright cruel.
And, only a few hours later, him and his friends are walking over to me.
"District Eleven," he says, addressing me.
I barely turn my head. I don't owe him more than a grunt.
It only takes me a second to notice, but he takes the smallest step back. Good, I think. You better be scared.
"Are you good with a knife?"
I'm from District Eleven, you dumb shit, of course I am, is all I think. But something told me that this wasn't a question I should answer. Silence was my best weapon.
This boy couldn't take a hint. He dropped his voice and said, "I'm forming an alliance with the girl from my district and a few others. You should join."
I was silent the whole time and silent I would remain. And, he walks away, telling me to think about it, clearly disappointed because he now knows he can't kill me when I'm not looking.
If you didn't push Rue, I think, maybe I'd've said yes.
There's one last night before the games.
A part of me is terrified, because I know the odds are against me. I'm the youngest, I'm the smallest, and I'm a girl. But another part of me is stoic, and curious, even. Maybe this would be a year for Hunger Games history. No twelve-year-old has ever won.
A part of me puts that thought out of my mind, though. Because for some reason, seeing a battlefield with the dead bodies of Thresh and the District Twelve tributes who didn't seem half bad unsettled me.
I can think about that tomorrow.
As I'm walking from the kitchen in our District Eleven complex to my room, I smile, seeingSeeder fast asleep on the couch. I like her. Even as a victor and our mentor and more than entitled to the room of her own, in her words, "nothing beats the comfort of a couch by the fire."
I jump when I see Thresh suddenly sitting at the foot of the stairs. I didn't see him there earlier.
"Geez," I mutter, without really meaning to.
He looks up from his reverie, and lets out a grumble. "Sorry."
Huh. I've never heard him speak before. "It's okay. You scared me, that's all."
He gives me a sad smile, and shakes his head a bit. "What?" I ask.
"That's what everyone says about me. I'm always the scary one."
Your voice sure sounds like it, I think. I've never heard such a low and gravelly grumble. Maybe that's because he was trying to keep quiet, for Seeder's sake. I could easily hear it be loud and booming and all the more terrifying.
I shake it off, shrugging as I take a seat next to him. I ignore how he recoils from me, because it's probably a guy reaction. "It's late. We should probably get some sleep."
"Probably," he agrees.
I turn to him. He seems to have relaxed. Something overtakes me to ask a question that I'm sure is very inappropriate.
"I saw you talking to Cato."
He winces, but doesn't say anything.
"Was he asking you to be his ally?"
He doesn't react—not a nod or a word came from his mouth. I take it as a yes.
"You said no, didn't you."
My question came out as a fact, and he turned to look me in the eye. How small I was in comparison. If we were walking side by side on a street, people would think I was his baby sister or niece or maybe even his daughter. But only six years separated us.
"Knives in the back hurt the most," is all he says.
"Yeah. They do."
We don't say anything for a minute. Then he turns to me and says, "I hear you sing. Back at home." He waits before adding, "Where'd you learn to sing like that?"
"I don't know. I just did."
He doesn't have to say it, because his words are already hanging in the air.
"If I die tomorrow," I whisper, "I want someone to sing me to sleep."
Even I've shocked myself from what I've said. Technically, I've known Thresh for years, but this is the first time we've ever spoken. And my dying wish is such a personal topic.
He doesn't act like it, though. "You better hope it isn't me then," he mutters, "Because when I sing, the birds die."
That one line is enough to send both of us into a fit of laughter. It's dark humor, but if these are the last hours of my life, laughing is better than being scared, especially if it's with a boy that I doubt has ever laughed with anyone else before.
A few minutes pass, and finally the laughter subsides. He says to me very quietly, "You should go to bed, little girl. Big day tomorrow."
Little girl. Up until now, weakness was what I thought "little girl" meant. But the way Thresh says it is different. It's endearing and sweet and sad, all at the same time
And maybe that's how things were.
"Okay," I respond. I get up to leave, but as I'm halfway up the stairs, I turn around and say, "Goodnight, Thresh."
I don't expect to hear anything, but as my back is turned to him, I hear him say, "Goodnight, Rue."
A/N: Jesus, Thresh is a difficult character to write as far as perspective goes, but I think I did him justice. It sounds a little Jim-ish from Huck Finn to me, but nevertheless, it's not exactly a dialect I'm used to writing in. Note that I am not racist my any means (I live in New York. Durr) I'm just following the mannerisms of his speech Collins provided us with. 'Sides, I really really like Thresh, and I think he's ten times more intelligent than Cato and Glimmer are (much as I adore those two.)
Anyway, I was initially thinking that this would be a one-shot, but the ending is starting to seem very abrupt to me. Check back in a few days for chapter two.
PS. Check out my other Hunger Games fics! I have a Glimmer/Cato one-shot entitled The Other Games and a Peetniss one-shot called Words Not Spoken