notes: so recently, i've developed an obsession with clove/cato and the possibilities, they're just so flawless, yes? and i was so annoyed at the glimmer/cato scene in the film. of course, they had to cut out my otp! :? but anyway, i decided to write this as what should have happened. this is for rae (turnthepageoftime) because i'm the vp of her fanclub andd this was supposed to be a birthday gift, but her birthday was st. patty's day so i'm a little late. ;). i really hope you enjoy and so not favourite or alert without leaving a review!
disclaimer: suzanne collins owns the book series and this wonderful pairing, and the quotes are from Luaren Oliver's books BEFORE I FALL and DELIRIUM, and the quote at the beginning is from Shakespear's Antony and Cleopatra because they were my favourite starcrossed lovers. (I like them more than Romeo and Juliet.)
Cri de Coeur
""If it be love indeed, tell me how much."
- antony and cleopatra [1.1]
"The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we'd done were less real and important than they had been hours before."
"We're going to go home – together," the relief in her voice is evident. "All we have to do is take care of those stupid star-crossed lovers, the girl from District 5, and Thresh."
"The first thing I'm going to do," he says importantly, "Is challenge you to a duel."
"The second thing you're going to do," she replied in that Career voice that they all adopt once in the arena – hard and cold and uncaring and voices of murderers – but if you knew her, really knew her, you could tell that her voice was only 99% annoyance, 1% teasing. "Is lose."
"Whatever," he rolls his eyes in the way that infuriates her, and yet, adds some fire to her at the same time. "I really hope the 'star-crossed lovers' aren't dead."
"Because," and now his voice is that of a murderer. "I want to kill them myself, I want to see he life drain from their eyes as they clasp hands, forever together. Especially Everdeen."
Fury and hatred take over his expression. "I want to take her," Clove hisses.
Cato stares at her, annoyed and surprised. "You?" They've had this conversation before, but neither is relenting.
"I'm the best with knives," she shoots back, and it's like they aren't even in the arena, it's like they're arguing back in District 2 over things that seem so trivial. "I promise you, Cato. Her death will not be quick. I will slice the knife into her skin and engrave all the hatred I have for her. I'll give the audience a show."
He pauses, but she can see he's already relenting. "Okay. But if you – if you can't finish her, call Cato."
"I won't," she replied, smirking. "All we need is the chance to attac—"
"Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen," Claudius' voice booms over the arena, everywhere and nowhere, all at once.
That is the beginning of the end.
But really, they never stood a chance.
"I guess that's what saying good-bye is always like—like jumping off an edge. The worst part is making the choice to do it. Once you're in the air, there's nothing you can do but let go."
The reaping day is clear and mild, as always; almost a mockery of the events about to take place, for the horror and cries of twenty three children, twenty three families, who would watch their children be slaughtered for the Capitol's entertainment. The dawn was crisp and clear, the colour of a ripe peach right before being plucked, and the air smelled like, as usual, sweat and sediments.
But today, today everything would change, because tonight, two of their finest from twelve to eighteen, would go to the Capitol and they'd play—and win, due to their superiority—in the 74th annual Hunger Games.
But that's not where our story starts; our story starts on a rainy day, many years before, and there was a boy and a girl. The story, it also ends on with a boy and girl, fighting for their lives for entertainment, but they were never ones to complain because they were Clove and Cato and they were Careers, they had to either win the Games or die trying, and nothing, not even things as pathetic as feelings, would get in their way.
They were born to be just two mere pieces of the Capitol's game, and maybe they weren't star-crossed, maybe they weren't lovers, but the second when he heard her call his name— "Cato!" So helpless, so broken, abandoning the number one rule of being a Career—every man for himself—he went after her.
But before there was a rock that smashed too hard, before there was an arena, before there were twenty three kids going to their deaths, there was a smiling Capitol woman and a box with thousands of names.
And an idiotic thing called fate, somewhere in the mix.
"This is what happens when you try to help people. You get screwed."
She used to be happy, once upon a time. The calls of songbirds outside her window and the beams of orange sunlight seeping through her window was a sign, but she doesn't dare to dream nowadays. Dreams are only for people who want to get crushed.
Her parents, they fight a lot, but she can tune them out.
(Not always, though.)
The mother is yelling, her father is yelling. She whimpers slightly, her brother, Shamrock, holds her. He doesn't tell her it'll be over soon, he doesn't say that nothing's wrong, because even at eight years young, Clove can realize that there is something quite wrong.
Then suddenly – her mother yells one last thing and her father begins to yell back, but –
"—no!" they hear his voice, in one last pitiful scream, and suddenly, all is silent.
Her mother walks into the room where her two children are hiding, terrified, and looks at them without the slightest trace of emotion in her face. "Your father." The words on her tongue sound dirty, tainted, even. "I killed him. I have no regrets. Peacekeepers will be here within minutes. Goodbye."
Her brother presses Clove so close to him, as though scared that this woman, who'd carried him for nine months and raised him from birth, was feral. But glancing into the dilated eyes of his own flesh and blood, he realized that if they didn't comply with whatever she asked, she would not hesitate to kill.
The thought brings him reeling and he pulls his sister closer.
"Stop it, Sham!" Clove hisses, still too young to fully understand that their mother is insane. "Ow – you're hurting me!"
Their mother's lips quirk upwards, as if the sight amuses her. "Always a fighter, Clove."
Then, she begins to laugh. Not the kind of laugh they're used to – the one that sounds like the tinkling of bells on a gentle summer day – but an insane, maniacal one that wracks through her body.
She's still laughing when two Peacekeepers, looking like Storm-troopers in fresh white costumes – although soon stained red – burst into the room and shoot their mother.
. . .
At that moment, something changed.
The light, which had danced so brightly in her eyes before, is dead.
. . .
"I wish I would get Reaped one year," she tells her brother. "I want to bring glory to my district."
Her brother, speechless, wonders exactly where Clove went; instead there's this girl who look like her, but who has an affinity or knives.
"It's funny, isn't it? When you are young you just want to be old, and then later you wish you could go back to being a kid."
The first time she (almost) killed and enjoyed it, she was nothing more than eleven.
It was her grandmother.
She's old and wrinkly, and that's all she cares to keep in mind about her. From time to time, she smiles at Clove, but sometimes, sometimes she can't remember. Sometimes, she wakes up screaming for Shamrock to run, yelling at people that aren't there, even after she wakes up, her eyes still burn with fever and insanity, she isn't herself, not any more.
Those are the times Clove hates her.
But of course, through a haze of childhood memories, she remembers a time when her grandmother laughed and sang to her, bouncing little Clove on her knee, telling her that she was going to do great things.
Then her older brother went into the Games. Her family, of course, was pleased. Maybe District Two would finally have a winner, they hadn't won since the 64th Hunger Games, because of course, the tributes of Finnick Odair would get the most sponsors.
The prospects had seemed good then; not one of the other tributes seemed to be particularly adept at anything. Those few days, she'd bragged to everyone at school at how her brother would bring glory on the ruins of the Stonemason District, and for the first time in her life, since her mother went crazy and killed her father all those years ago she'd felt pride, hope, happiness for the future.
Once Shamrock had won, she'd finally be someone.
Those were the Games that Annie Cresta was in.
. . .
She remembers it like it was yesterday; daily, she'd run home from school in eager anticipation of the recap of the days events. Her brother had five kills already, which was the highest of any Tribute—although the killing was definitely down from last year—and it was the third day. Fifteen Tributes remained, and there was no major conflict.
That should have been her first clue.
"It seems like today has been a very mild day." Claudius was first to note. "I hope we're in for some excitement tonight.
"They're going to try to bring them together," her grandmother noted. "We'll finally be able to see Sham fight, Clove." Her voice was one part excitement, two parts worry.
"I hope so!" the eleven year old with a perchance for bloodlust had said gleefully. "These Games have been dreadfully boring."
At that moment, a solitary ray of sunlight found its way through the filthy window. It illuminated the dust and germs in the air, and left an almost ethereal quality to the air. If she was girly, she would have said it looked magical, but she wasn't so she didn't.
A mockingbird flew past her window, and she recalled finding it strange ... mockingbirds were not native to her district.
That was when the dam broke.
. . .
The strange thing was, she felt nothing watching her brother drown. Maybe a little pang at her chances to move into the Victor's Village being over, but nothing else; no remorse, even as ten cannon shots were fired and her brother's waterlogged body was lifted into the Hovercraft.
. . .
Maybe she feels sadness, for the briefest of seconds, but like a butterfly in the darkness, it is gone.
. . .
Her grandma woke up screaming that night, yelling for her brother to run.
Listening to the old woman's sobs from the next room, she felt nothing.
. . .
After a few weeks, however, she began to grow angry.
A small seed of hate had implanted itself into her heart and whenever her grandmother cried, it grew.
"I wish someone had volunteered for him!" her grandmother wailed, all red eyes and frazzled hair, "If only he didn't look like a possible Victor."
"I—don't—care," she found herself hissing; and she didn't. "I—don't—care." She repeated this every time, accentuating the knife into her grandmother's soft skin. She couldn't help but marvel at how easy the skin was to slice, how smoothly and thickly the blood flowed, "I—don't—care."
"Clove!" her dead grandmother called, "Clove! Clove!"
And that's when she realized that she was dreaming.
What's worse, she didn't regret killing her grandmother in her dreams one bit.
"It's the time of the night I like best, when most people are asleep and it feels like the world belongs completely to my friends and me, as though nothing exists apart from out little circle: everywhere else is darkness and quiet."
Sometimes, she still feels that burning hatred, and she wishes that this time, she could press the knife into the leathery skin of her grandmother. Sometimes, she wonders what it would be like to hear her grandmother's breathing, hear her grandmother's pulse, or her heartbeat, just stop. To know that her grandmother will never again trouble her.
She keeps these fantasies to herself, of course.
But sometimes, she catches her grandmother's eye on her, and she just knows that the woman suspects her.
. . .
When she's fourteen, they begin training her for the Hunger Games. She's one of the only girls there, and they make fun of her for it, but she shows them after a knife-throwing session that ends up with three in the hospital—she doesn't apologize—and suddenly, she gains their respect.
All but one.
. . .
Cato's a year older than her and thinks he's a thousand times better. His brother is a Victor, and so is his Uncle so he thinks that he's superior. Again and again she beats him, but she can't wipe the stupid arrogant smirk, as if he knows everything, off his face, "That all you can do, Clove?"
When they duel, there's almost a fire between them: hot sparks and ignited flames and she's somewhat surprised that the entire District doesn't go up in flames, but, there's something there; Brutus obviously knows it too.
"You know," he tells her one day, "you and Cato, if you aren't in the same Games you might actually have a chance." Enobaria nods and coming from them, it's the biggest compliment.
. . .
"You, Cato Blacksmith, are the biggest idiot to ever grace the earth!"
"And you, Clove Plantseed, are the most annoying human being ever!"
. . .
They hate each other, but somehow, between the duels and the knives thrown, they become friends.
. . .
"You know, for a knife-wielding, back-talking, annoying person, you're actually not that bad."
"That's the closest thing I'll ever get to a compliment from you, isn't it?"
"Go fall off a cliff."
. . .
That year, they get Reaped – well, she does, he volunteers. "It's you and me against the world," he jokes and she feels like smiling, but she doesn't. She just shakes his hand and snarls—
"Well, I'll see your coffin when they return you to the District."
The stupid Capitol woman, whom Clove hasn't even bothered to learn her name, smiles intrepidly. "Let's give a hand to our Tributes!"
As if they aren't already clapping, Clove rolls her eyes. Cato, as if he can hear her thoughts, smirks.
. . .
She wants to say something to him, but she can't. The Games have already begun.
. . .
The Capitol, of course, is spectacular. The glittering buildings and people pass by them in a flurry of screams; Cato, for his part, remains stoic, as if the audience is so far beneath him that he can't even bother to grace them with a glance.
Clove rolls her eyes, and watches the crowd pass her. This, this is her chance to shine. She hasn't been throwing knives at Cato for the last year for no reason, has she?
An uncomfortable feeling twists in her get at the thought of killing Cato, but she quickly dispels it. Emotion is something she cannot afford: emotion makes her weak, and weakness is not an option.
"We need to talk strategy." Enobaria's harsh voice cuts through her musings. "For the Games."
"We think you should Ally yourselves with Districts 1 and 4," Brutus nods, as if anything else was even an option.
"And any other people that might be of use," Enobaria adds, a smirk tugging on her lips. Clove shudders at she stares at her Mentor's razor sharp teeth. "But dispose of them the moment they become useless ... it's only for the best."
Cato nods, like he's taking this seriously. "Okay."
"And of course, we'll manage your sponsors," Brutus feels the need to point out.
Well, duh! What else is the Mentor's job?
"—and one last thing," he adds. "Stay alive."
. . .
"We're surrounded by idiots," she whispers to him as they walk back towards their rooms – which are actually suites. "I mean, we've seen their Games; we've trained for this their whole lives."
Cato shrugs. "If it gets me a house in Victors Village, I'll listen."
Clove snorts but doesn't say anything.
"It's so strange how life works: You want something and you wait and wait and feel like it's taking forever to come. Then it happens and it's over and all you want to do is curl back up in that moment before things changed."
"Ouch, what the hell do you think you're doing?" she snaps at the stupid Capitol stylists; they've attempted to rip off years of leg hair, but now were being pinned against a wall by Clove., who had a lethal-looking knife in hand – "Don't—touch—me!"
"But ... but—" Cesario, a man with mottled purple skin and azure eyelashes which clash horribly with his yellow hair, groaned. "We have to get you to look respectable for the Opening Ceremonies!"
"If you want sponsors," another man, Shylock, says fearfully, afraid that Clove will attack. "It's not our fault: we're just doing our job." And Clove slowly drops her knife because they're right; it's the fault of President Snow and the Capitol citizens.
It's their fault that in a few short days she, and 23 other children, will be fighting for their lives.
She may be a Career, but to the Capitol, she was still only a District, and nothing would change that. "What's going on here?" Julius, her head stylist, asks walking into the room, "Clove?"
"No way," she shakes her hand, knife at the ready, "I am not shaving off my leg hair and you are not taking away my knife."
. . .
Two hours later, she's waiting at the Chariots, legs shaven, and knife nowhere to be found.
"Wow, Plantson," Cato eyes her, "You look ... good. For you, of course."
And okay, she may be eyeing him back, just a little bit, and he may look good, but no way in hell is she ever going to admit that.
"Hi, Cato!" a shrill voice giggles from the next carriage over, "you look good." The way she says it makes Clove want to slit this girl's throat – unfortunately, her knife is back in the dressing room. This girl, whom, Clove decides, will be her first target, says her name and blows him a kiss. "I'm Glimmer!"
Clove rolled her eyes at Cato. "She does realize that one or both of you is going to be dead in a few days, right?" But Cato doesn't answer because he's staring at Glimmer who's staring unabashedly back.
She coughs, reminding him that she's still here.
"District one!" Cashmere calls. "On your Chariot!" Finally, they look away from each other and Clove groans; District 1, which meant they'd have to team up.
She has an odd urge to grab Cato's hand, but satisfies it by making a fist with her hand, pressing her nails into her knuckles 'til they're almost bleeding.
Her hand twitches momentarily, as it's a sudden scary thought: that she's actually going to grab his hand, but then she shifts and avoids his eye for the rest of the night.
. . .
"District 12," the disgust in Brutus' voice is palpable. "They shouldn't even call this the Opening Ceremonies if they're just going to be talking about how 'cute—breathtaking—the Coal Miners look, and how there's a possible romance behind the scenes, because they're holding hands'!" Cato nods, for once in complete agreement with Brutus.
"Especially the girl!" his voice is laced with contempt. "We barely got a twice-over, and they're talking about the 'Girl on Fire'." The malice in his eyes is so clear that Clove almost pities the girl, Katniss Evergreen—or something like that.
. . .
She looks good, he decides, in her training suit. They're eating breakfast, discussing strategies– what else do they do? – when he notices something about her. When she smiled, not a smirk, not a sneer, but when she finally lets the muscles in her face relax, she looks pretty.
He could get used to that. "What are you staring at, Cato?" she snarls, smile gone.
"Your ugly mug," he snaps back, even though this could mean a possible knife in the eye – it would have, had it not been for the filthy look that Enobaria had shown Clove. Reluctantly, Clove drops it, but still shoots him with a dirty look.
. . .
At the Training Center, she avoids him, he avoids her, and Glimmer finds him.
"That was amazing," Glimmer breathes at him, looking up in admiration. Cato's chest seems to swell a little at this.
"It wasn't much," Clove sneers, and Cato glares back at her. There's a fire in his eyes that match her.
"Really?" he breathes. "You want to do this now?"
"I'll still stick your ass, anyway," she smirks. Glimmer looks confused, Cato annoyed, and she, for once, is happy.
. . .
She kisses Cato once. Just for the feel of it. They're in the Training Center, waiting for their escort and their Mentors to show up for dinner when the idea comes to her. "What the hell was that for?" he snarls, once she pulls away.
She raises an eyebrow; she didn't remember him protesting it moments before. "If—if I'm going to die, I want to live life. And we'll never speak of this again. Or I'll gouge your eyes out."
His face is even as he replies, "Whatever."
. . .
She kind of wishes that he had some reaction, however negative.
. . .
It's strange: in District 2, she couldn't stand him – they couldn't stand each other – but here, with the threat of imminent death facing them, someone familiar, even someone as annoyingly pompous as Cato, seems almost like a friend.
"I'll kill her," he mutters, during the Interview, too low for the cameras to pick up. "Taking the glory off our District ... nothing but Coal Miners!" She almost puts a hand on his arm, almost says that everything's alright, but she doesn't want to lie.
. . .
He thinks of his family, of his brothers and sisters, of his promise to return home for them in a blaze of glory, but sometimes, he can't help but notice, who does this actually help? Whether he wind or doesn't, who still remains untouched?
The answer always leads to the same thing: the Capitol.
. . .
"Have you realized that every fight, every moment in our life that we've trained for has culminated in this moment? That we've been practicing for this since before we were even eligible. And all of this—It'll be over in a few days?" her eyes, the colour of burnt cinders, smouldering in the darkness piece into him.
"Yeah," he breathes back. "Then we've better make the most of it."
The Beginning of the End
"I know that the whole point—the only point—is tofind the things that matter, and hold on to them, and fight for them, and refuse tolet them go."
Five, four, three –
They're waiting, now. On the platform, for the longest sixty seconds in her life, and the bloodlust is making everything hard. When she looks, she sees not people, people with families and friends who are just waiting, watching, hoping for them to come home, but she sees target practice.
She's become a piece in their Games.
She's counting down the Tributes. Deciding on each kill she makes, the knife she'll use. Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire, she thinks with a Sneer, will get the most painful death, it's what she does best—
. . .
Cato looks bored, as usual, with a haughty smirk on his lips and a gleam in his eye. The notices, a few spots to his left, Lover Boy is shaking his head at the Girl on Fire, and it's so sickeningly disgusting that he might just want to puke.
This, he thinks, is it. Every misstep and false move, everything he's ever done, it all hangs in the balance. Because now, he is no longer just Cato, District 2 Tribute, but he is Cato – Career and ruthless killer.
. . .
"I might be able to help you," he pleads, "please." Clove is staring at Cato, wondering why he doesn't just end the miserable twerp's life now. It would be easy enough for him to do it – or her, whichever, she doesn't mine. But Cato, as the de facto leader of the group – even though Clove received a higher score in training – seems to be doing nothing. Just as she reaches for her rustiest, most serrated blade, he reaches his arm out sharply and snaps—
"We keep him," he declares, as if the boy can't hear them. "He—he might be useful." There's another glint in his eye then, one that makes him look almost evil in the morning light, but no one else notices – Clove only does because she's known him for years. Obviously, he has an ulterior motive.
. . .
He's the one who delivers the final blow to District 8, a girl named Elsie with eyes that screamed innocence. She was only fourteen, or so, Clove remembered, and she had a sister, and parents that cared about her, wanted her to come home – alive, not in a wooden box – but she stops, because she can't think of these ... people as humans, otherwise, that makes killing them difficult. And difficulty makes weakness,
Weak people don't win these Games.
It's her fault, she remembers, stupid, idiotic girl! Lighting a fire during the night, what else could she expect? And just like that, the momentary feeling of guilt is gone.
She smirks at Cato.
Later, after they've sent Lover Boy, Peeta, to go kill the girl, she wonders exactly why they're keeping him around. Sure he's strong, but so were plenty of other Tributes.
"Trust me," he mouths and she can't help but listen.
. . .
You both play the Games, but there's only one person who can win and that's the Capitol. She learns that the hard way after she wake up one morning to the screams of Rae, the girl Tribute from District 4, and Glimmer. She can't help but smirk at Glimmer, obviously revelling in the pain – until she realized what it was from.
"Run!" Cato yells and they all bolt, not once looking backwards, as the tracker jackers beat upon them.
"I left my best knife," she groans, turning around. His eyes, a glassy glaze on them, are feral. Whether it was because of his stings or from anger she never knew – probably both, she realized. "Cato—let go!" He had grabbed her arm, ready to stop her.
"Are you kidding me?" he hisses; she feels a sharp pinch on her hand, and even now the world is distorting around her. Colours and shapes blur in and out of focus and it's all she can do not to pass out, even as more and more stings come. "I am not letting you get killed – you're the best ally I have!"
As backhanded as that compliment is, she almost smiles because she is Clove and it's been a while since she felt like she was destined to be someone. If she was someone else, she may have kissed him then, but she wasn't so she merely yanks her arm out of his grasp and she's running, without ever looking back, even though she knows he's following.
. . .
There are only three of them now.
She and Cato and Marvel. She might as well commit suicide; Marvel is pompous and annoying, and it doesn't help that he can throw his spears almost as well as she can throw a knife, and the thought of someone else being even close to as powerful as her ... well, it's scary.
Cato is no better, he's still as arrogant as ever, but at least he reminds her of home, and that's all she needs.
They recruit a boy from District 3 – she doesn't remember his name. There's nothing spectacular about him but his strength and his ability to turn some chicken wire and a can of hairspray into a working, killing bomb. "What are we going to do today?" she asks Cato – because he's familiar and he smells like winning and Marvel isn't worth her time – raising an eyebrow.
"Hunt," he manages to grit out, eyes flashing with danger. She cocks her head at him, confused. "For Tributes – for her." The gleam in his eye darkens until his eyes, once brown, become an abyss of darkness and night. "The bitch."
Clove snarls, testing her limbs, "I claim her."
"What?" Cato's expression is flabbergasted. All this time, he's wanted to Kill Katniss Everdeen – so slowly and painfully, so that her sister in District 12 could watch every agonizing minute – the thought of the kill going to Clove was ... almost disappointing. "She—is—mine!" He thought is de facto veto power would sway her, but there are sparks in her eyes and her hand is almost reaching for her knife – one which she calls Rusty, for obvious reasons.
"We could spar for it?" she suggests, although the expression on her face says that she won't relent.
(He already knows that he'll give it to her, because she's Clove and he's Cato and she knows 1000 different ways to kill someone with a butter knife.)
"Why don't we settle this later?" Marvel intervenes. Luckily, too, as the two looked ready to kill. "Evan"—he gestures to the District 3 boy—"has rigged the food supply pack. It's all secure. I think-"
"Why don't you go look for Everdeen and that girl – Rue, was it?" Clove interrupts, like doesn't care what he has to say. Marvel gives her a filthy look, but seems to notice the blade twirling oh so casually hanging from her arm, and slinks off, spear in hand.
"What an idiot," Cato rolls his eyes.
"He makes you seem like a good leader," Clove replies and coming from her, it's a compliment. "I can't wait 'til we get rid of him."
Cato nods, and then, they continue off, each in search of the blasted Girl on Fire.
And then, the world explodes.
. . .
The first thing she notices as she comes to is that her hand is clasped in Cato's and for a second , just one second, she doesn't move and everything seems right with the world. Then she hears Cato's scream. Not a scream filled with fear, but one filled with anger and when she glances up, she can see why.
Everything, all the items that they'd got – pillaged – from other Tributes and the Cornucopia are gone. The boy from District 3 stands there, looking scared. "I—she threw an arrow!"
"Who—did—this?" Cato roared, looking less human and more canine with each passing second.
"District 12, she was up in that tree and—" The rest of his sentence is cut off as there is a loud crack. Cato broke his neck.
She wants to marvel at his strength, but she can't: this is the Hunger Games and she's a Career and that stupid bitch lost them all their food and if they want to survive the day, they have to act. "Let's wait 'til Marvel gets here," she says quietly. She may despise District 1, but right now, it's the three of them and a pompous ally is better than no ally. "Then we'll work out a plan."
He nods, still too angry to speak.
Marvel doesn't come.
They wait and they wait and they wait some more and suddenly she realizes how cold her hands are.
They see his face in the sky that night, and for a second, a feeling of happiness floods her. "So it's us, Thresh, District 12," the disgust in her voice taints the air, "and the girl from 5—Olivia."
"Let the Games begin," Cato says emotionlessly.
. . .
Clausdius Templesmith comes onto the speaker and they both pause, waiting, watching, silent underneath the inky night sky. He explains that there has been a rule change. She and Cato exchange glances, eyes wide. Under this new rule, both tributes from the same district will be declared winners if they are the last two alive. She pauses, as if she can't believe it, and he repeats his words.
Surely, this rule must have been meant for the star-crossed lovers – but Clove and Cato were the only other two people this rule applies to, and if this means that there's one less formidable opponent to face. And neither of them will admit it, but they were both not looking forward to killing the other. "Lover Boy won't last long," Cato says with a smirk, even though it's still bitter. "—and I haven't seen Olivia since the bloodbath. Thresh, he disappeared into the tall grass."
"Where do we start?" Clove licks her lips, bloodlust moving in the way of emotion.
"We'd better get some rest," Cato nods wisely. "We've got some tributes to kill."
That night, they lie under the stars on beds of grass and twigs and bags, and it's as uncomfortable as hell, but for some reason, she can't help but marvel at the Capitol manufactured stars – they remind her of the ones on the grassy hill by her house.
"If—when we win, what are you going to do?" Clove asks aloud. It's only a whisper in the wind, but she's sure the Capitol cameras can here every tremor.
He's silent for so long that she thinks he might be sleeping. "Sleep," Cato grunts, "On a soft bed."
She laughs quietly. "I'll sharpen my knife collection."
"And then we'd spar?" She can tell that he's almost smiling – a real smile, not his usual smirk or sneer – "And I'd win?"
"Sure you would," he says sarcastically.
They don't say anything after that, and the next day, it's almost as if the conversation didn't happen, but it did.
The next day, there are no deaths, only hunting. They argue over who's getting Everdeen – she will, of course, and make it a good show – and plan their lives after their victory.
The audience must be getting bored, she muses, and it seems as if she's right, because the next minute, Claudius' voice is everywhere again, and he's announcing a feast. "D'you think we should go?" she asks. "We aren't in dire need of anything."
"Yeah, but Lover Boy does," Cato says with a wicked grin. "I know where I cut him, and I know that Everdeen will want to get something for his leg, what else could they need? It's a good chance to take out more tributes. Closer to home." Clove relents then, because she's thinking of her new life in District 2 with money and Cato and maybe her life won't be so bad – even if she has to live down the street from Enobaria.
"I wonder which knife I'll use," she muses, caressing her collection softly. "This one, ah, yes."
"So we're going?"
. . .
"Remember, if you need help, call," he has that arrogant smirk on his face again, and Clove has an urge to knock it off with a fist, but she can see past that: there's a layer of concern, mingling deep in his eyes. He actually does care, just a little.
"I will," she promises. "See you in a few minutes." She begins to walk away.
"Clove!" he calls. "Give them a good show."
She nods, smirking, "I wouldn't dream of anything less."
"And—" here he paused, looking as if he wanted to say something, but not finding the words. "Bye."
. . .
He's chasing Olivia through the brush, wondering on whether or not Clove has killed the bitch yet. Then he hears her scream. "Cato! Cato!" He's a Career, but he drops everything. He knows she wouldn't be screaming like that if she wasn't in danger, and the thought of her being hurt is so real, so grappling, that his heart feels like it's going to beat out of his chest and he can't think of anything coherent except get to Clove.
The voice, so scared, so full of pain, so worried, is so unlike Clove. District 5 slips between his fingers as he runs back, not caring who saw.
CLOVE CLOVE CLOVE PLEASE DON'T BE DEAD CLOVE PLEASE CLOVE -
And then he's in the meadow, and he can see her; he can see the dent Thresh made, and he knows it's too late. The bitch is staring at him in horror, and he notices how easy it would be for him to kill her, right here, right now, but she screams his name again and all that matters is him and her.
CLOVE STAY ALIVE FOR ME PLEASE JUST STAY -
. . .
As she takes her final, shallow breaths, the bits of black nibbling away at her vision, at her sanity, she utters her last words, her head cradled on his lap. A teardrop falls from his grimy cheek and splashes on her face.
DON'T DIE CLOVE -
Clove does not cry. Her whole life, she has been trained for this: win the Games or die trying. Cato, on the other hand, grasps her hand, trying to keep his face even but failing, that's when she realizes that he does care. He came back for her, just like he'd promised. That would be enough, for now.
"Please, Clove, please!" his voice is almost broken. "Stay with me, please."
"Cato ... " she tries.
"No!" he yells. "You—are—not—dying! You were going to win – we were going to win! Together, Clove! You can make it, please." Even as he says it, she can feel herself forgetting, losing consciousness.
STAY WITH ME CLOVE STAY PLEASE I LOVE YOU PLEASE STAY. FOR ME -
"Cato ... "
As the blackness seeps closer, she utters three words, eight syllables, ones that he will remember until the day he dies.
"Win for me."
A canon fires and Cato is on his feet, leaving Clove's body behind without a second glance. He will grant Clove's final wish. He will win.
notes ii: the caps in the end are cato's thoughts and they're supposed to be grammatically incorrect, jsyk. please DO NOT favourite without leaving a review. seriously.