Disclaimer: I don't own The Hunger Games or Julius Caesar.
the fault, dear brutus, is not in our stars
but in ourselves, that we are underlings
At the Reaping, he's surprised when she volunteers because he's never seen her at pre-training before and, quite frankly, she doesn't look like much. Well, okay, she certainly looks like something, but that something is more of a princess and less of a warrior. He hasn't seen the other Districts' Reapings yet, but he knows that the girls from Two and Four, at least, will be toned and strong; they always are. But this girl, who introduces herself as Glimmer, just smiles beatifically and waves to the crowd as if this is a beauty pageant.
He volunteers not so much because he has any particular desire to be in the arena but because he can feel his mother's eyes fixated on the back of his head and because your cousin was a Victor and I will be damned if my sister shows me up again, so help me God, Marvel. So he steps onstage and shakes hands with the blonde girl and then they head back to the Justice Building to wait.
It's not until after that he remembers that sometimes the Hunger Games is a beauty pageant.
His curiosity gets the best of him once they're left alone on the train. "Why'd you volunteer?" he blurts out. "I've never seen you at pre-training before."
A faraway look enters her emerald green eyes as she watches the countryside whizzing by outside the window. "Because," she says after a long moment, "I'll be famous. And then everyone will remember me."
He's not sure how anyone could forget a girl who looks like that, but he nods anyway. He doesn't bother to mention the possibility that she might not make it out alive. He doesn't need to.
Backstage before interviews, she taps her foot nervously, twisting a loose strand of hair around her finger. "You okay?" Marvel asks, because the pretty girl from his district kind of looks like she's going to be sick. He reaches out to steady her trembling form.
"Yeah," she says. "Yeah. I'm fine. Just—nervous."
"Glimmer?" someone calls. "We're ready for you. You're on in five." He gives her shoulder what he hopes is a reassuring squeeze, and she smiles gratefully before taking a deep breath and turning away from him.
Once she hits the stage, though, Glimmer's back to being the girl he knew on the train: she's got the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand right from the start, and he thinks briefly that she's going about fame the wrong way. If she had been born in the Capitol, she'd be a shoo-in for the next Caesar Flickerman.
After her three minutes are up, she hurries backstage to the sound of thunderous applause and throws her arms around a surprised Marvel. "I did it!" she says brightly, and she looks genuinely pleased.
"You're a star," he whispers, kissing the crown of her head. She laughs good-naturedly but pushes him away because all the other tributes are there and he needs to get onstage in five-four-three-two—
The lights blind him and he doesn't really remember what he talks about, but he knows it doesn't matter much anyway; whatever he says only pales in comparison to Glimmer's shine.
Marvel is not small by any means, but standing next to Cato—who, by the way, looks like he was carved out of a boulder—certainly makes him feel that way. "So we'll be allies," the blond says as the two of them and their district partners sit down to lunch on the first day of training. Marvel already dislikes him, dislikes his cocky attitude and the way throws them into an alliance without asking anyone's opinion. "We want Three," their self-appointed leader continues. "The boy, not the girl."
"He'll just get in the way," Marvel objects, not because he really cares either way but for the sake of being contrary. The boy from Three is small and underfed and looks like he weighs less than Marvel's spear. "He'll slow us down and use up our supplies."
"So he'll be our guard dog," Cato says carelessly, and Marvel figures he's probably hiding something but doesn't know what. "And if he eats too much, we'll kill him, all right?" His eyes challenge Marvel to protest.
"Sounds fine to me," Glimmer pipes up, and Marvel nods mutely. He'd never admit it, but since Cato's arm is bigger than his whole head and the odds—three-to-one—are in his favor, he figures compliance might be his best bet.
On the second day of training, Glimmer saunters up to Cato and asks him very sweetly to teach her how to wield a sword. He obliges, because they're allies now and it's not like he'll teach her how to be as good as him anyway. So Cato hands her his sword, and Marvel watches from the knot-tying station as his hands are everywhere—her hands, her shoulders, repositioning her feet—and then he's pressed up behind her, too close for comfort, showing her how to swing the sword properly, and Marvel unconsciously tightens the rope around his hand until it begins to turn white.
Glimmer drops her stance, laughs at something Cato's said (and Marvel knows that she's flirting because Cato wouldn't know a joke if it walked up and stabbed him), and touches his arm lightly. Cato glances up at him over the top of her head. Marvel quickly averts his stare, but it's too late—when he looks back up, Cato's smirking at him. Asshole.
He knows that Cato only sees her as a body, as ass and tit and mile-long legs, and he also knows for a fact that she's been spending her spare time cozying up to Seneca Crane to learn the secrets of the arena (not that he'd ask her about it; not that he'd expect her to tell him anything); and it frustrates him to no end.
But Glimmer's always been good at making connections with the right people.
He finds her in the hallway after dinner that night. "Why him?" he asks, hating how pained his voice sounds even to his own ears. "District 2. Why?" Why not me?
She stares at him for a long moment. "Alliance," she says finally.
Marvel shakes his head. "We'd be allied with them either way, and you know it. Why?"
She sighs, pushing a lock of golden hair behind her ear. "Did you see the way the girl from Two looked at me?" He shakes his head. "Like she wanted to stick a knife into both of our backs. Driving a wedge in between them is good for—" She pauses. "For us. Less of a chance that they'll team up against us."
He shakes his head. "You're just making an enemy out of her," he warns. "Don't do that, Glimmer, it's just stupid."
"He'll protect me," she says nonchalantly—and they both believe it; even boys who are six feet tall and built out of rocks will protect Glimmer, because she is that kind of person.
"I'll protect you," he replies, grabbing onto her arm. He wants to shake her. Why doesn't she understand? She doesn't need Cato or anyone else because he will always be there until it's just the two of them, and then…and then he doesn't know what. But he figures that if they both last that long, maybe they can rock-paper-scissors for it or something.
All she does is laugh—a genuine laugh, not the vapid giggling she always does in the Training Center when Cato's around. "You," she begins, a smile playing at her lips, "are taking this way too seriously. I know what I'm doing, Marvel. Have a little faith." With that, she winks at him and sashays away—except she heads in the opposite direction of their rooms, toward the elevators. The thought of her with Cato—the thought of her in his bed—makes him want to vomit, so he goes back to his room and counts the ways he knows to destroy boys made of boulders.
Alliance or not, Cato's the only kill he's looking for.
He is watching them go over swordplay again when the girl from Two comes up to him.
"You hate it, too, don't you?" she says knowingly, watching the blond duo. She looks up at Marvel expectantly, but he stays silent.
"Do you love him?" he asks after a beat. He doesn't look at her.
Clove snorts. "You're an idiot," she says flatly. "Do you love her? Would you die for her in that arena? If it was your life or hers?" He's not sure and he doesn't want to lie, so he doesn't say anything.
"Exactly," she says softly.
"Why do you do it?" he asks her on the night before they go into the arena. They both can't sleep. She's sitting at the foot of his bed braiding her hair, wearing only a silk nightgown. "I mean, doesn't it make you…doesn't it make you feel like shit?" He winces. He didn't mean to sound so judgmental, but he wasn't sure how else to phrase it.
"You think I'm an idiot, don't you?" she asks quietly.
He looks up at her, alarmed. "No, of course I don't—"
"You think it's stupid that I'm sleeping with Cato," she continues as if he hadn't spoken, "and I'm sure you know about Seneca. You think I'm being used and they're taking advantage of me, and they're using me for my body and you—you think I'm a whore—"
"You're not a whore," he replies automatically.
"But the rest is true."
He hesitates, and the silence tells her everything. "Well," she says, and he's surprised that she doesn't sound angrier, "that makes you the idiot, then. And them." He stares at her uncomprehendingly. "Look, Marvel, it's my body. My choice. And if I can use it to gain power over them, then I absolutely will. It makes me strong and it makes them weak." She shrugs. "And that's how I'll—" She stops herself, but he knows what she was about to say anyway. That's how I'll win. He believes it, too, that she could win, because she is smart, and sponsors will flock to her because nobody likes to see an angel bleed on live television. Death is for the average, the unexceptional, and Glimmer—she's something else.
Her body is a weapon, and Glimmer knows how to use it to win.
They enter the arena and head straight toward the Cornucopia, bloodbath be damned. He keeps one eye on his surroundings and one on Glimmer, which is kind of a disadvantage but it's okay, he's always been good at multi-tasking. He's doing pretty well with his spear and she's holding a sword, of all things, because oh, God, she didn't learn how to use anything else at the Training Center (he wonders briefly where Cato is now and if he's looking out for her; somehow, he doubts it).
And then he realizes that someone is headed straight for her, because, despite being from a Career District, she is small and soft and exposed, and he throws his spear into the boy's back without thinking twice. Except—oh, shit—now he's left unarmed; a girl holding a machete swings at him and he ducks on instinct, throwing his arms up to protect himself and swearing loudly as the blade slices through skin. He manages to kick the girl in the stomach, temporarily knocking the wind out of her, as Glimmer calls out for him to catch, and then the spear is back in his hands and cutting through his attacker's flesh like a hot knife through butter.
When the fighting ends, Glimmer rushes up to him. "Thanks," she breathes, twisting a lock of hair around her finger. Her eyes dart to the dark stains on his jacket sleeves. "Oh, no." She takes his arms into her hands. "No, no, no, no…"
"It's really okay," Marvel mutters, acutely aware of the others watching them. "Glimmer, calm down. There are bandages somewhere in here." He gestures toward the mostly-full Cornucopia. "It's fine. Really."
She sits him down and applies a salve to his cuts before wrapping them, and he remains impassive even though she's making the bandages too tight and he thinks she might cut off the circulation in his arms. She's only got a few scratches on her, and now they're settling into camp with the other Careers—all in all, probably the safest they can be, given the circumstances. He hates to admit it, but taking the boy from Three was a good idea, since he knows how to rig mines around their supplies and teaches them all how to not get blown up.
Glimmer picks it up the fastest—she's the lightest, quick on her feet, and repeats the pattern over and over for Marvel until they can both do it with their eyes closed.
"Good," she says, satisfied. She lowers her voice and says seriously, "It's like I told you before: I don't want to do this without you." He frowns at her—she never said that—but then she winks and he remembers that they're being watched, that this is a TV show and she is an actress. She's probably taking her cues from the Star-Crossed Lovers, who are already wildly popular in the Capitol.
So he nods his head and says, "Right," with as much conviction as he can and tries not to wonder how much of their interactions from here on out will be for someone else's benefit.
They run into Lover Boy in the forest later that day. Before anyone can call dibs on him, he cries out, "Wait! Wait." He raises his hands in surrender.
"Where's your girlfriend, Lover Boy?" Clove sneers, twirling a knife in her hand. Marvel understands that the girl from Twelve, with her eleven in training, is their highest priority kill at the moment. She is their biggest threat, and she needs to be ended immediately.
"I don't know," Lover Boy answers, taking a deep breath. "I don't know. But I know how to find her."
They do find her the next day, except she's high up in a tree and Cato can't get to her because he is too heavy (Marvel stifles a laugh when his ally crashes back to the ground) and Glimmer, who decided to try her luck with the bow this time, is even worse with that than she is with the sword. Lover Boy convinces them to wait her out, so they let Glimmer take first watch and fall asleep beneath the tree.
When the tracker jacker nest explodes on them, he is up before he realizes what's happening, pulling his jacket tightly around his body and running running running after the others, trying to count the stings and jump over roots and keep up with the blurred forms (how many are there? He can't tell; he can't tell if they're there at all) in front of him. It's not until he crashes into the lake that he remembers her with an icy burst of terror. He surfaces and, with some difficulty, paddles to the edge of the lake, because the world is spinning and he thinks he might drown if he stays in the water much longer. He half-drags himself out of the lake and tries to do a headcount, except they're all Glimmer—and she looks like she's made of stardust, literally sparkling before his eyes.
It's the last thing he sees before he passes out.
When he wakes up, the boy from Three tells him that he's been out for five days. Cato sits beside him silently, while Clove sleeps at his feet; she's the smallest, the boy explains, so it'll take longer for the poison to work its way out of her system. Lover Boy is missing. Marvel's looking around their camp, trying to find her, when—
"Glimmer died," Three says neutrally, clinically, as if making a comment about the weather. "Tracker jackers got her. She didn't stand a chance."
Marvel's head spins and he's not sure if it's from the news or the poison. Glimmer. Dead. He knows what tracker jackers are, what they do; he imagines her body, ravaged, disfigured, arriving home in a wooden coffin. A caricature of the girl she once was.
"The girl from Twelve," he mumbles, mostly to himself, but this gets Cato's attention.
"Yeah," he says darkly, looking at Marvel. "The girl who was on fire." The gleam in his eyes is positively murderous, and Marvel knows he should be scared, except his eyes probably look the same way.
Marvel stands up wordlessly, rooting through their supplies until he finds what he's looking for: a fine-mesh net and his spear. "Don't be an idiot," Cato warns. "Wait for Clove to wake up and then we'll all go hunt for her."
"No," Marvel says, fiercely determined. He thinks, briefly, that if they tried to stop him, he wouldn't hesitate to slash their throats with the spear. "No. She's mine."
They let him go without another word.
He traps the little girl from District 11 in the net and almost feels sorry for her until he hears her yelling for Katniss, Katniss, and he realizes that the two have been working together, equally complicit in Glimmer's death. He doesn't hesitate to thrust his spear into her stomach, because he can only think of revenge—and then there's Katniss with her bow strung and him with nothing, absolutely nothing.
This time there's no Glimmer to toss his spear back to him.
A/N: ...So yeah, I lied: no Cato/Clove or Gale/Madge, but Marvel/Glimmer yay! This was really fun for me to write and I'm not sure why except I HAVE SO MANY CAREERS FEELINGS YOU GUYS. But yeah, I wrote most of this from like midnight to seven AM today. I am honestly not sure why both of my recent fics reference The Fault in Our Stars. I swear I'm not doing it on purpose. Reviews are lovely. (: