A/N: And it's finally completed! Sorry the second chapter of this two-shot ran a little late, life kind of kicked me in the ass and it took a little longer than I would've liked to get back on my feet. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy this—I had a blast writing about these two, because even though Rue/Thresh is neither my OTP nor conventional, this is different from anything I've ever done.
Little Girl, Gentle Giant
I don't want to die. And I know that if I don't want to, I'm not going to.
The gong sounds, and I listen to Seeder. I run. I ran fast and far and away from the other tributes. People were probably expecting a fight from me: Thresh, the quiet sponsor-magnet from District Eleven. But the Cornucopia isn't my fight. The Careers are.
I take to the field of grain. It feels like home there. I drink from other side of the lake at night, while the Careers are hunting. A week goes by, and I've only made two kills. A boy from District Seven and a girl from District Ten. After that, they all stay far, far away from my field. That's Thresh's place, they figure. That's where the scary one lives. He'll kill you on the spot.
Maybe I would. I don't like these people much.
But District Seven was dying anyway. He was covered in blood when I saw him, and he was shaking in the cold night air. I killed him in his sleep, and the cannon went off. He didn't move. He spent the last seconds of his life dreaming about home.
But District Ten came after me. She slashed at my arms and tried to kill me. Maybe I could've killed her faster. Made her suffer less. But I didn't want to.
I sit in the field of wheat all my days. It's not much different from my tree. It's quiet, and I can think, but only if I want to. Most days, I don't think at all, I just watch the people work in the field below me. Sometimes I'll watch Rue. But here in the arena, there's no one to watch. There's the boom of the cannon and, sometimes, the sound of Careers arguing, but only if the wind blows my way. I am safe in my wheat field. I'm safe from anything human.
Even when they show those faces in the sky, I'm not scared. I hope it's a Career, and maybe the fire girl, because I don't want to kill her. She'd make me hunt her down. And I didn't want to hunt until I had to. The Careers—they would come to me. It would only take time. But the fire girl isn't stupid. She would make me come to her.
But, silently, I say a prayer every night as the faces reach the later Districts. I want to win these Games, and the more that die, the easier that will be. But I don't want Rue to die. I don't want her in this arena at all. Living in a wheat field makes it harder to forget that I'm not the only one from District Eleven here. This is no place for a Little Girl like her
For six nights, the sky stays clear. Rue's alive. Her heart still beats.
On the seventh night, it's good news, at first. I see two Careers' faces in the sky—District One and District Three. But, then, the news is bad.
Little Rue's face is shining in the sky. And after that, I'm not so sure I want to win anymore.
"There may be allowed two Victors if they both originate from the same district."
From the same district.
Rue's dead. It's been one day. And now they're making an announcement.
I want to scream, but no words come out. There are no screams loud enough for this. And in the arena, I have to stay silent.
But I can't help but think.
If I'd helped her all along . . . if I'd killed those Careers . . . if I spent more time outside of this field . . . if I stopped thinking about my silence and about saving myself . . .
Thinking is dangerous. Thinking is dangerous to someone who does not speak. I do not speak, I do not cry, I do not make a sound that night. My heartache is louder than all of that.
If only I'd done more. Then maybe that Little Girl would still be alive. Maybe we would be going home together.
It's selfish, and it's not right. But I let a silent tear fall. And I promise myself it's the only time I'll ever cry in this arena.
Three days, I wait.
Everything in the arena used to be quiet. There are only six of us left. Now it's loud with my thoughts.
All of them are about Rue.
"This is no ordinary feast. Each of you needs something desperately. Each of you will find that something in a backpack, marked with your district number, at the Cornucopia at dawn. Think hard about refusing to show up. For some of you, this will be your last chance."
A now the strange man is on his megaphone, saying something that means nothing. I sit there and think, wondering what I could possibly "need desperately." I had food, I had water. I wasn't hurt. I hadn't moved from my spot of the field in days.
But the Gamemakers are smart. And I knew what would be waiting for me at the feast.
"A chance to avenge Rue." I freeze, scaring myself.
These are the first words I've said in the arena.
If I go to the feast, my backpack will definitely be empty. Maybe the Gamemakers will feel bad enough to throw in a bottle of water or some District Eleven delicacies, but they wouldn't have to. I'm well fed and I've had enough water for these entire games.
There's only one thing I need desperately.
I need to get mad.
I need to get even.
I need to kill the Careers.
Starting with the Career that killed Rue.
Fire Girl is in trouble.
I'm watching her and the girl with the knife go at it, staying low in the bushes where I can't be seen. And, when I see Fire Girl struggle under her, I hope she's killed. There's six of us. Chances are, if the Careers don't kill her, I will. And I don't want to. Then, once knife girl is done and Fire Girl is dead, the Careers will have nothing to do but hunt me down. And I'll be ready for them.
I'll be ready avenge Rue.
I'm hanging on to Knife Girl's every word. If I'm scary, then I don't know what she's supposed to be. She's awful. She's tormenting Fire Girl—okay, fine, Katniss—and I feel a little bad. A little.
But then, I hear it.
"Forget it, District Twelve. We're going to kill you. Just like we did your pathetic little ally . . ."
No. I knew it the entire time, but I didn't know I would have to listen to it.
Pathetic little ally.
". . . what was her name? The one who hopped around in trees?"
Surprise goes away. All I feel is anger. I think of my tree back home and how I would sometimes see Rue, hanging on the canopy and jumping around. She always made sure to avoid me. Maybe if I wasn't the scary guy, she would've jumped right in.
I heard it.
And now I knew what I had to do.
I can barely hear the rest of what she says, I'm so angry. I need to pounce. I need to make the kill. This is the girl that killed little Rue. Now it's my turn to end her. I don't even think about killing Fire Girl as I run onto the field. The girl with the knives is my only target.
And as I pick her up, she's light as a doll.
I save Fire Girl's life.
I'm mad. This is when I'm really scary.
"What'd you do to that little girl? You kill her?"
I'm shouting. I don't think I've ever shouted before in my life.
And now I see the girl from District Two for who she really is. A coward. Because she spends the last few minutes of her life blaming Rue's death on someone else. And just when I thought killing a little girl couldn't be any worse, it was. Because this girl and these Careers who thought knew so much about honor knew nothing.
I don't know what's stronger—my anger or my shame for them.
I have to end the girl from District Two. I don't care about making it long or painful or short and sweet, I just want her dead.
The last words that come out of her mouth are her screaming for help.
And, now that Rue's killer is dead, I need to deal with Fire Girl. If I wasn't so angry, I would've noticed how she doesn't try to run or fight, but holds her ground without showing fear. Maybe I would've had a chance to like Fire Girl. Instead, all I can think about is Rue, and my head and heart are hurting.
"What'd she mean? About Rue being your ally?" I manage.
"I—I—we teamed up," she stammers. "Blew up the supplies. I tried to save her, I did. But he got there first. District One."
Hmph. So it wasn't the girl with the knives after all.
"And you killed him?" I demand.
"Yes. I killed him. And buried her in flower," she says. "And I sang her to sleep."
And now Fire Girl's eyes are filling with tears, but I don't think about her because all I'm thinking about is Rue. Our first, last, and only conversation was about her being sung to sleep in these games. And that's exactly what Fire Girl did.
"To death. I sang until she died," she says. "Your district . . . they sent me bread."
And, now, I don't know what to do with Fire Girl. Because I can see she's overwhelmed and that she's sad and that if she cared about Rue that much, maybe Rue cared about her too. This is a Game and now that there is only one Career left, it's a Game I can win. I might as well kill her, right?
"Do it fast, okay, Thresh?"
Shit. Now I'm stuck. This girl knows honor—she knows it's my job to kill her. She's even making it easy for me. Do it fast, Thresh. Isn't that the answer? Isn't that what my audience wants me to do?
These Games might be about the audience, but not to me. It's about my district and my family and bringing them honor. And I wasn't going to start by dishonoring them now. Fire Girl did something for Rue I never could—she gave the little girl her dying wish. She was her hero when I couldn't be.
"Just this one time, I let you go," I say finally. I point my finger at her. I don't like this choice, and it isn't easy, but it's the right one. "For the little girl. You and me, we're even then. No more owed. You understand?"
She nods, and that's it. Killing Fire Girl—it's useless. Someone else will just have to do it. Leaving her alive, I know it could be the difference between life and death. But now, dying doesn't seem too bad anymore.
The Career's screaming is what breaks the spell. "You better run now, Fire Girl," I tell her. And as she takes off sprinting, I can't help but think, Thank you, Katniss Everdeen. Now I know what I have to do.
It was my turn to help Rue.
I turn to the bags, grabbing mine and District Two's. I know what I'm doing-I'm picking a fight that I probably won't be able to win. But I don't care. Killing the girl with the knives wasn't enough—I have a few more bones to pick with the Careers.
I run far and fast, and finally, I reach the only tree in the wheat field. It stands tall and alone. It reminds me of my tree back in Eleven.
I climb up it, scaling the bark with both bags slung over my shoulder. I sit on one of the highest branches—high enough for a good climb, but thick enough to support my weight. I look out over the horizon. As the Capitol anthem sounds, I see the face of the girl with the knives. I'm smiling.
"For Rue," I whisper.
Rue. The little girl I was too late to save. The one that could still be alive right now, if only I'd helped her from the start. We both could've made it out of these Games alive. Now, all I can do was hope and try to avenge her in death.
And I think I'm doing it right.
"Come get me, you bastard!" I scream into the night.
Let District Two come running. Let him find me and kill me. Let me try to avenge his girl, the one with the knives. I could tell that something was going on there. That's why I didn't kill the Girl with the Knives sooner—her partner would've killed me.
What those Careers never thought of was that something was going on with me and Rue too.
Not a whole lot—I don't know how much Rue thought of me.
But the little girl was kindness.
She was happiness.
She was everything I would ever want.
Maybe there were six years between us. Maybe we were about to fight to the death. Maybe we'd only ever spoken once. But I'd been too afraid to talk to her all those years—which is funny, because usually, I'm the scary one.
I don't know if I love her. Respect, yes, but love? That takes time. That needs to grow. And living in District Eleven, that would never happen.
What I do know is this.
In another world, I would love her. I would be whatever she wanted me to be—a friend, a big brother, or a lover, because Rue deserves that and so much more.
This world—my district, my nation, and the Games—took Rue away from me. And so, as the sun comes up and I see that the boy from District Two has found me, I only think one thing.
"Time to go see Rue in that other world."
A/N: As always, thank you so much for reading! Reviews are very much appreciated.
If this pairing isn't your cup of tea, please check out the plethora of other one-shots I've written for the Hunger Games fandom:
Peetnis—Words Not Spoken
Glato—The Other Games
Clato—A Drug for Angels