Disclaimer: I am not Suzanne Collins. I do not own the Hunger Games, or these characters, or the Capitol, or anything, really.
Cato couldn't sleep. And it really didn't help that there was a periodic thudding coming from outside of his room.
Finally he just couldn't take it anymore. He jumped out of bed, threw on a shirt, and went out into the hallway.
The thuds were coming from the room where they had eaten breakfast and dinner since their arrival in the Capitol. From the hallway, Cato couldn't see anything suspicious. All he could see was the table and a window behind it. Cato froze for a moment, admiring the Capitol's beauty through the window. District 2 was nice, of course, but it could never compare to the Capitol, no matter how strange the Capitol citizens were.
Cato was just gawking at the view when Clove whipped around the corner, brandishing a knife in her hand.
Instinctively, Cato dropped to the ground, grabbed her leg, and pulled her down with him. But Clove had the advantage. They rolled around for a few minutes until she pinned him to the ground.
Clove panted as she sat on top of him, holding the knife over his throat.
"I could kill you right now," she sneered. "But I get the feeling that you might be a helpful ally… at least for a while."
In one fluid, graceful motion, she rose and crossed the room. Then she proceeded to throw the knife at a crack between two panels on the wall.
That's what had been making the thuds, Cato realized. She'd been throwing the knife at the wall again and again and again. "You couldn't sleep either?" Cato asked casually, walking further into the room as he dusted himself off.
Clove looked him over. "There are more important things than sleeping."
"Like keeping the rest of the building awake?" Cato retorted angrily.
"I don't give a damn about your beauty sleep. You may not realize it, but not all of us need it."
Cato scoffed at her. "Do you remember where the beer is?"
Clove froze with the knife perched in her hand, ready to be thrown. "Excuse me?"
"The beer. The booze. The alcohol? I know the adults were drinking it earlier. Do you remember where it is?"
The knife flew out of her hand. "I'd imagine in the kitchen."
Cato smiled at her. "Thanks, Princess." He was halfway through the doorway when he paused. "Do you want some?"
Clove didn't respond for a moment.
"Well?" he prompted.
"Yes," she decided.
Five minutes later, Cato returned with a bottle of whiskey and two cups. He threw it at Clove at she caught it with trained reflexes – a good thing, too, because it was glass – and scowled at him.
"What happened to beer?" she questioned.
"I figured this would be more fun."
He sat down at the table and filled his glass. She grudgingly sat beside him and he filled her glass, too.
They both drank their first glass in a hurry, and tried to hide the grimaces of disgust that the liquor wanted. But they were good at that. Along with many other things, training had taught them how to conceal their emotions.
"Well… how are you?" Cato asked, a grin spreading over his face. It was the most genuine smirk that Clove had ever seen him wear.
Still, she scowled. "You don't need to make small talk with me."
"We could play a game then."
Clove's eyebrow rose.
"Yeah, like… Truth or Dare," Cato said.
"You say whether you want a truth or a dare. If you pick truth, you have to truthfully answer whatever question the other person asks you. If you say dare, you have to do whatever they dare you to do," Cato explained.
"What happens if you don't do it?" Clove questioned.
Cato shrugged, another loopy smile on his face. "Nothing. It's just a game."
But both of them instantly stiffened at this comment, despite the alcohol that was already coursing through their veins. The game that they'd been raised to play had consequences, win or lose. And you had to follow the rules.
"Well, it sounds pretty stupid," Clove said.
"Hey, I didn't make it up. My sister told me that she and her friends played it at slumber parties. You never did?"
Clove refilled her glass and chugged down half the cup. The truth was she had never been to a slumber party. So she chose not to answer the question. "Your sister isn't training, is she?"
Cato's face showed shock for about two seconds. "No. She's not. She's actually, um, disabled."
"She fell out of a window when she was younger."
Clove's face showed confusion, but no sympathy.
"I'd rather not go into details." The screams still haunted him. "But she still has a slight limp. So my parents took her out of training."
Clove's dark eyes examined his face for a very long moment. They seemed to peek behind the mask and see something else, something that Cato didn't even realize was there. It made him very self-conscious as he gulped down more whiskey. "You love her," Clove announced finally.
It was a statement. Not a question. Yet Cato was sure there was room for discussion.
"I don't know what love is," he said after thinking for a moment. "But if I had to love somebody, it would probably be her."
"I don't love anybody. Loving is for the weak," Clove told him.
"I couldn't agree more."
"Alright, let's play the stupid game," she said.
Cato smiled. "Alright, truth or dare?"
"Truth," Clove responded, biting her cheek.
"How old were you when you started training?"
Clove barked out a laugh. "I was training before I was born," she said, rolling her eyes.
"Now you ask me."
"Okay, truth or dare?" Clove asked.
"Do you really think you're going to win?"
Now Cato laughed. "Of course!"
"I wouldn't be too sure…"
The game continued for several rounds, as they asked each other questions that seemed important, but in the grand scheme of things, the answers were details that were insignificant, just like the names of the other tributes that they were about to kill. They did dares that were stupid and humiliating, but they didn't do anything too risky. And then, with Cato's answer of truth, everything changed.
Clove let out a deep breath. "Are you a virgin?" she asked. No emotions peeked through her words, but Cato could tell that she had been waiting to ask this.
So he answered truthfully. "Yes. Truth or dare?"
Clove nodded slightly. "Truth or dare?"
"Dare," Cato said, leaning in towards her.
"I don't know about you, but I don't want to die that way."
"So?" Cato cocked an eyebrow at her.
"So I dare you to change that."
Less than two seconds after the words had fallen out of her mouth, both of them had risen out of their seats and met somewhere in between. Clove jumped up onto him and crushed her lips onto his. Cato stumbled back until his back hit the wall, right at the spot where Clove had thrown the knives.
She weighed practically nothing. He lifted weights heavier than her. But her arms coiled around his neck almost as tightly as his arms encircled her waist, and they pulled each other closer, and closer.
Every feeling that Cato had ever had seemed to slip between them as they intertwined. Every emotion. Every ounce of strength drew her nearer.
Her lips moved down his neck to his chest, and then she was ripping his shirt off. As she explored this new area, Cato pushed off of the wall and slowly, but surely, carried her back to his room.
He set Clove on his bed and she held her hand up for a moment. Cato stood there, waiting, as she pulled a knife out of her pants and set it on his nightstand.
Later that night, Clove turned over and looked at him. Her dark eyes once again appeared guarded in the dim light as she said, "Are you awake?"
"Yes," Cato responded.
They lay there in silence for another moment.
Then she said, quietly, almost in a whisper, "I'm scared."
When Cato woke up in the morning, she was gone.
Cato was about to die.
But did it really matter? Because Clove was already dead. In fact, Cato was already dead.
They'd spent the rest of their time in the Capitol, and their time in the Games, pretending that whatever had happened that night hadn't happened. Clove claimed to be responsible for both the knife holes in the wall and the whiskey. Cato requested that they spend as little time together as possible.
However, he didn't really want to be away from her. Because, despite how much he wished he didn't think it, Clove was beautiful. He just wanted to know more about her.
But he couldn't. They were going into the Hunger Games. Only one winner came out of the Hunger Games.
And Cato knew it would be him. And he would go home and pretend that Clove never mattered. As soon as he got the fame and fortune, she wouldn't matter. Cato would get whatever girl he wanted and the biggest house in town and everybody would love him.
So he snuck glances at her while they traveled through the arena. He made sure that she had enough food and water. If Cato didn't win, he decided, she would.
When Clove slept, she almost looked innocent. Except, of course, for the knife in her hand.
Sometimes, Cato thought that he saw Clove looking at him, too. But they always looked away.
When the gamemakers announced that two tributes from the same district could win, the pair had exchanged a glance. It was a promise, a pact. They may not have been lovey-dovey like the District Twelves were, but they wouldn't kill each other. Because, after all, what did it really matter if someone else won with them?
Yes, Cato reassured himself. That's all he was feeling.
Cato's heart was practically ripped out of his body when Thresh killed Clove. The way she screamed his name… but he was too late. Too late… And even if he could get there in time, it would only result in the deaths of both of them. And Cato couldn't let that happen.
Maybe Clove wasn't the love of his life.
Maybe they would never have been able to sustain a relationship.
But she had been there during the time that he needed someone to love. Yes, he cared for his sister, but Cato needed love.
So there he stood.
Blood was pouring down his face as he looked at Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire. Her arrow was pointed at his hand, the spot that her Loverboy had gestured to. Her hand was already preparing to release the arrow.
Cato knew that he deserved to die. Cato almost wanted to die.
Cato had been dead all along. Spending his life training to fight somebody else's battle? That wasn't living. That was pretending. That was doing what he was told. That was obeying.
Living was loving. And Cato certainly hadn't been loving. He'd been dead all his life.
And it wasn't till a girl named Clove came along that he realized it.
Alright, now, in my defense, I have not yet read a single Clato story, so this could be the same thing that everybody writes. I don't know. I kind of enjoyed this though. Clato is one of my new OTPs.
Please let me know what you thought of this! It's been a while since I've written a new Hunger Games story :)