Welcome, welcome! Herein lies a fanfiction that takes place in an AU universe where Cato's family moved to the Capitol very early on. The 74th Hunger Games are very different indeed

While I hated Cato in the novels, his depiction in the film and well, let's face it, I have a thing for bad boys, has led me to this story.

Get ready for twists, turns and a lot of darkness.

I am first and foremost a Peeta/Katniss shipper so you will see some of that in this story, but the primary pairing will be Cato/Katniss.

Please do review, I write based on feedback that people want more and I would love to see if there is interest in this story!

The Darkness Within

Chapter One

To the Victor Go The Spoils

The training room was empty as usual. Cato was often the only one here; it was rare for Capitol citizens to spend their time in something as exhausting as exercise. They lived frivolous indulgent lives, taking pills to maintain their weight at the generally approved upon medium, never considering to do anything more, especially something that may require actual work.

It didn't matter much to Cato. In fact, it simply gave him more room to practice. The dulled stick he swung in his right arm collided with a satisfying thud against the dummy's abdomen before he was swinging again, sending its head right off.

A satisfied breath whistled through his bared teeth as his lip curled.

"Brutal." The low whistle from behind him had Cato rolling his eyes. "You know, you train as if you were ripe for a reaping."

"Well, really, he should be." The second voice joined in, "Afterall, his rightful birthplace is not the capitol, now is it?"

"It's like I always say, Edwin. You can take the boy out of the district but you can't take the district out of the –"

Antherus Featherie was brought to his knees as the dulled stick found its way from Cato's hand to his abdomen. Coughing as he curled into himself, his green hair made him look all the more sickly. Edwin Weatherby, his partner in crime, had the good sense to back up quickly and run out of the room.

"You were right, Antherus." Cato crouched beside the shaking man. "I am brutal. Don't forget it."

He walked out of the training room with a smile on his face.

In a dark navy suit, his blonde hair tousled as always, Cato strode into the Games' Room. He always felt odd here, in part because it was no secret that he harkened from District 2, and as such Brutus or whoever the District 2 mentor happened to be that year would always latch to him the moment he entered. It wasn't as if he had forgotten. In fact, that was the only reason he took part in this disgusting tradition. Cato never placed bets on a tribute to win, but he did donate money to help them out of a jam. Of course, since the majority of his former district tributes were careers, he still often got bragging rights out of the whole hoopla.

Sometimes, when watching a hardy young man volunteer to become a tribute, Cato found himself wondering if it was a cousin of his; or perhaps an old classmate. It was hard to remember, he had been in the Capitol so long…

He was six years old when the President had visited the District, wanting to see some new developments taking place in The Nut. As a senior peacekeeper, Cato's father had been called into a welcoming role. Cassius had been tall, broad and was the strongest man Cato knew. His Father had been older than most of Cato's classmates, having had to give up 20 years of his life to Peacekeep in District 7 before being given senior status. On arrival at home he had married Cato's mother and Cato had come along soon after. On his fourth birthday, Cato had entered the Academy – the private school that trained all worthy District 2 children in the art of tributary. It was almost written in stone that Cato would one day be a volunteer tribute in the Hunger Games.

But then the rebel showed up.

As President Snow took the stage to greet his swooning followers from District Two, a shot rang out. In an instant, Cassius had pushed the President out of the way and took the bullet in his side.

Cato had screamed. An embarrassing show of emotion that in the end was for nothing, really, only to receive a cuff around the face from his Father once the man was healthier and had seen the footage.

Cassius had obviously survived, and was given Capitol worthy health care. President Snow, impressed by his selflessness (or was that just loyal stupidity?), promoted their entire family to Capitol Citizens.

Which of course led to why, today, Cato was in the Games Room and sported a blue streak in his otherwise golden hair. Cato often scoffed at Capitol Life, but had quickly realised that assimilating allowed one safety and comfort. Of course that safety and comfort came at a hefty price. In the Capitol it was all too easy to forget hardships, reality and mostly, humanity. Although, Cato had a niggling feeling that he would have lost the latter even if he had stayed in District Two.

"Cato! There you are!" Brutus had narrowed right in, "Some bad news, ol chap. Vars died last night. Some grotesque muttations-" Cato's eyes drifted to the recap screens which showed the monstrous dogs. There was something especially eerie about their eyes. "Only Clove, Girl on Fire and the District 11 girl left. We have a great chance – I want to send Clove some body armor, you know, make her unstoppable – what do you say to it?"

"I'll think about it, Brutus-"

"Cato, look at that little spitfire. I saw how your eyes glinted during the reaping. District Two or not, I'm sure Snow would let you have your fun if she survives-"

Cato rolled his eyes and walked past Brutus.

He walked nearer to a few screens in the left of the Games Room, slightly interested in what may unfold in these, the end hours of the Games. Haymitch, the old drunk was looking rather brighter than usual as he steepled his hands, watching the same set of screens. They had split into three: Each of the remaining tributes seemed to be on their own. Clove was obviously hunting the others, while Rue and Katniss seemed to be searching frantically for eachother.

"What happened to your boy tribute?"

"Androo died last night, he suggested poisoning District 11 and Katniss lost her mind."

"She killed him?" Cato asked in surprise. The Girl on Fire had intrigued him. What Brutus had said was true: Initially Clove had piqued his interest, small and vicious, she seemed a favorite. Yet, despite that, Katniss, the girl who sacrificed herself for her sister, had this broken look in her eyes that stirred something in Cato. With his self proclaimed black heart, however, Cato wasn't fully sure if he wanted to stop her feeling that or if he rather watch her break completely.

"No. She told him she would if he didn't leave their camp right away and he took off. He was running from the Muttations when he tripped and fell down a hill. Hit his head on a rock. At least it was painless." Haymitch's eyes looked hollow, "Can't say much for your boy. Those mutts were on him for quite sometime."

Cato winced. A terrible death to imagine. "Vars did kill the majority of the other tributes though, karmic revenge, perhaps."

Haymitch sat up suddenly. "Oh shit."

Clove had spied Rue, the small fragile girl walking on the ground searching for her ally.

"Shit. Climb a tree." Cato found himself hissing. "Climb up!"

But of course, Rue couldn't hear him and a knife went whizzing through the air, embedding itself in her stomach.

She felt back with a shriek that was mirrored by many in the Games Room. The odds had been stacked against her, but she was so small, so sweet, that once she had lasted to the final eight, had received a flood of sponsors.

Clove pounced immediately, chortling furiously. "Oh, don't die just yet, little girl. I still want to have some fun." She pressed the blade of another knife against the soft cheek of the other girl, not yet slicing skin. "You know, for Vars, he was so upset that you and your stupid friend blew up our supplies."

"Katniss!" Rue gasped, barely able to talk.

"She can't even hear you-" Clove taunted with a laugh.

Yet, the mockingjays above had begun echoing the tone of Rue's shriek which elsewhere had Katniss running madly through the forest.

Clove was about to make an incision on Rue when an arrow came whizzing by, catching her in the calf.

"AGH!" Clove wailed, rolling off Rue in pain. She was a classic bully in that she could dish it out but couldn't bear to take it.

Katniss was readying another arrow but Clove dove into a nearby bush and began a hobbled escape. Cato felt as if Katniss should pursue, since Rue was obviously a lost cause, but the girl of course did the opposite.

"Rue!" Katniss was screaming, having now seen the fatal wound in her stomach. She fell to her knees, her hands trying to stem the flow of blood. "Rue! It's…It's going to be okay. You're okay. It's…"

"Win, Katniss." Rue managed a trembling smile, "Win and it'll be okay." Blood trickled from her lips and a cannon blew with jarring pleasure.

The games room erupted into noises as final bets were placed with urgency.

Haymitch's lips twitched. "Maybe it's for the better. If they were final two, then … well …"

"She would have probably eaten those berries that killed the District Three tributes. She wouldn't have killed that little girl. She's weak, Haymitch. Her strength has only come out of reaction for others-"

"I know."

"I don't even know if she'll kill that girl-" Cato gestured toward to the screen showing Clove scrambling away, bleeding from her leg.

Katniss meanwhile was hysterical and picking flowers, the petals curling beneath the wet of her tears.

"She'd better. After she killed-" But Haymitch stopped talking in shock.

The now crawling Clove came face to face with one of the mutation dogs. Her scream was cut short as it went for her throat, tossing her body around like a rag doll.

"Well, that was unexpected." Cato managed as a cannon blasted and a shocked Katniss was being announced as the victor of the 74th Hunger Games. "I expected a little bit more of a battle."

Haymitch's face was frozen. "The President must want her for something more. She must have higher wealth."

The shocked games room erupted in applause, discussion and congratulations toward Haymitch and an elated Effie. Cato watched as the hovercraft arrived to lift Katniss away. She yelled and tried to tear free, not wanting to leave Rue's body just yet. She was pulled away trying to toss the remaining flowers in her hands to finish covering the little girl.

Yes, the President clearly thought there was more revenue in having Katniss alive over Clove. Enough that it was worth ending the games without a lucrative gruesome finale.

Which, in the end, would mean her own personal finale would be much, much more gruesome than anything in the arena.

It hadn't taken long to secure a meeting with the President. In fact, given Cato's connection to him, it was barely more than a few hours later. Nodding brusquely at the Peacekeepers who stood guard, Cato used both hands to open the doors of the Meeting Room, not waiting for them to be opened for him.

The thick smell of blood and roses hung in the air and Cato's eyes spun toward the old man who was looking at him with a critical gaze.

"President Snow, glad to see you are doing well." He bowed his head, a cord in his neck straining.

"The same for you, Cato. How is your mother?"

"She is well." Cato felt suffocated by small talk, "I came here for a reason."

"Yes, I can see that. I must say: It's unusual. You've never come asking for a tribute before." President Snow ran his fingers over the knobbly arms of his chair. "And now; to come so passionately? She must really have made an impression on you."

"Yes, I am aware, Sir. And if I recall, you did promise me a good price if I ever did come to bid." Cato smiled a slow, cold smile, the smile made famous by his long dead Father. The resemblence would do him well with what he was about to ask.

"I did." President Snow flicked open a small book on his desk. "I can offer you 100 for an evening, 250 for three. 300 if you want the first night."

It wasn't chump change, even for a Capitol citizen. One hundred thousand for one evening. Cato would have to let go of more money than he had thought. "Three Hundred was what Antherus paid for the girl from District One three years ago."

"Yes, but believe it or not, there has been a lot more interest in this one. All that righteousness she has demonstrated. I would be doing you a favor."

"I see." Cato's mouth was set in a thin line. "Well, I come asking you for a larger favor then: name your price for me to take Katniss Everdeen as my wife."

To be Continued …

Will President Snow take Cato's offer? Will Katniss find herself saved from a terrible life only to begin one much, much worse? Where is Peeta if he wasn't a tribute this year? And what about the rebellion? Without the berries can it still take place?

Please review and let me know if you want more!