Author's Note: Here you go, the companion fic to 'A Cruel Fate' in Cato's POV. It pains me to write these things. Heartbreaking.I hope I did Cato justice.
Disclaimer: I don't own The Hunger Games. Books, nor the movie.
"Clo-ove." No, I will not allow them the satisfaction of seeing me cry. Of seeing me weak. I can't let them have that. But I couldn't help it. For the first time in my life my heart clenched so tight it actually constricted my breathing, and tears started to fall from my eyes. "Stay with me, please."
"Cato." Clove's voice, calling to me softly, her breathing labored. I looked into her green eyes. I willed the tears to leave my eyes, because I wanted to see her, Clove, and look into those gentle green eyes of hers without my weakness blurring them.
She raised a hand to cradle my face and I leaned against it.
"I think we could've been more."
And then I heard her cannon fire.
I choked back a sob, wanting to call her back to me, to stay with me and win the bloody Games with me. I ached to tell her what I felt. Emotions I have never even felt before I met her. At first I thought I hated her. Hated her with a passion. I couldn't stand the idea of someone being my equal. But then I started to realize it wasn't hate, but a different emotion altogether. I hated to admit it, but I was amazed by her. And then I started feeling protective, for some reason I can't explain. Until that rule change.
"Both tributes from the same district will be declared winners if they are the last two alive."
I don't know what came over me. That boy from 3 did his job too well and look where it's gotten us, no supplies. I knew the sponsors would still give us food and all the other things we'd need, but something overcame me at that moment and I snapped his neck. When my thoughts had cleared, I became aware of Clove's quiet and even voice talking to me, telling me to calm down. I've been too lost in my thoughts since then, until Templesmith's voice rang clear in the arena. I looked at Clove, who was staring at me with disbelief. The game rule was repeated to make sure we all understood. I gave a triumphant laugh and jumped off a boulder I wasn't even aware I was sitting on and ran to her. She opened her mouth to say something but she didn't get to say whatever it was because I leant in and crashed my lips on hers.
I could go home with the girl I knew I wanted to be by my side through everything.
During our last night before going into the arena, I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep. I wasn't nervous, fuck no. I was scared. Ever since I had the mind to realize what they were doing to our lives, my life, I had begun to question how it was even fair. But then I was also smart enough to know that if I dared voice out these questions in public, I'd only have a shorter chance at life. And there I was, living the nightmare I had so often imagined.
Clove was probably sleeping with a smile on her face, dreaming of all the pretty knives and all the other Tributes she was going to hack and slash at with those come tomorrow. Possibly even me. At least, that's what everybody was thinking. I knew they were thinking the same way about me, as well. But I for one knew Clove wasn't in the least bit at peace. Most especially not then. I stood up from where I was sitting on the floor of my room, made my way outside and stood at her door.
I knocked. I heard the sheets rustle, and then was sure she wasn't sleeping. She'd want to know who's knocking at this hour in the night, of course. So I cleared my throat and called out, "Clove, it's me."
More rustling. Suddenly I felt my chest constricting, and I knew that if she didn't open the door I would probably go insane. I was scared as fuck for tomorrow, and I needed a hug. I shook my head, pissed at myself. A hug. Seriously. The last time someone hugged me was when I was 3. That day I had to be brought to the academy where I'll stay for the rest of my whole, miserable life. Until eighteen, of course. It was my mother who brought me, my father being a Peacekeeper, had duties. She hugged me at the gates, saying she couldn't go any farther from there. She gave me a tearful hug and a smile through her tears. I had cried, kicked and screamed when they pulled me away from her. That's the last thing I remember. When I came home during our two to three day vacations, I didn't even bother hugging her. What was the point of getting attached, anyway? Regrets. Whenever I came home, she always made it a point to shower me with smiles and she always asked how I was doing. She'd worry at the smallest cut I came home with. I knew she loved me, but I couldn't afford to reciprocate my own mother's love.
"Clove?" Aw, shit, my voice cracked. Clove will probably think I'm a weakling. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe she wouldn't understand. After all, I never really got to know her that well aside from those words years ago.
"Yeah, I hate all this too."
I may have assumed wrong that she had the same thoughts as I did. How stupid was I to believe that she too, hated the system? I then realized the absurdity of my assumptions and was prepared to walk away when the door opened. There she was, with a tear-stained face. My heart gave a leap. Maybe I was right all along, and that we shared the same ideals. She'd understand. I knew it. She really was my 'equal' as those people back at the academy liked to call her. Without saying anything, I enveloped her in a tight hug. She tensed at first, and I feared she'd push me away, or worse, stab me right there and then. But slowly she raised her arms and hugged me back, sighing almost inaudibly.
I don't know how long we stood there entwined like that. When we parted, she climbed onto the bed and hugged her knees tight. She didn't threaten to kill me if I didn't leave, so I took that as an invitation to join her in mourning our fates. I followed her to the bed and offered my open arms. She crawled in without a moment's hesitation started sobbing. "I know." I whispered. "I am too." She was just as scared as I was, hiding behind the façade of strength and indifference.
Tomorrow we were to be Cato and Clove, murderous teenagers from District Two. Out for blood. Again. Tomorrow we'd have to pretend once more. To show everyone we wanted this. We wanted the honor, and don't fear death, because death will never get to us soon enough. We'd been born to bring pride to our District and trained all these years to achieve such honor. Load of crap, huh? Well, it keeps us alive a bit longer.
That's when I started to wonder. "Do you think we could've been friends?" Over the years, I had come to realize that maybe me and the knife throwing girl weren't much different. If we hadn't been trained to not trust anyone our whole lives, maybe we would have been.
"In another life, maybe." She sighs wistfully.
I smile at that. "Yeah, I think so too."
If only we stood a better chance. At life. At friendship.
Who cares about fast trains and scrumptious food? The whole train ride to the Capitol was boring. We were nothing but lambs (if not lions) being fattened for slaughter. But even then we had to pretend we were enjoying the food, and all the accommodations made available for us. Then there was the parade, and the interviews. Each and every moment eyes and cameras are turned on you, waiting for a wrong move, appraising you just as they would appraise a horse before it's set to race. They find something wrong, and they move to the competition. One wrong move, one faltering smile, or if you say something out of line, even accidentally or on a whim, and you go nada. Just like that. The thing our mentors had set-up, between that girl from 1 and me, it's just the same thing. Risky, because they might say that we're stealing the limelight of 'the star-crossed lovers'. Even if we looked like the perfect pair, once the public sees the ingenuity, we're screwed.
And that's living the good life, folks.
I close Clove's eyes with my fingers. Those sweet, sweet eyes that didn't belong with a killer. I plant one last kiss on her forehead and stand to leave. Grabbing my spear, I go in the direction 11 had taken. With one last, lingering look at the girl I had failed to save, I vowed then. To her and to myself.
I would get him, and make him pay.
I would make them pay.
That day at the Reaping, I knew Clove would step in for whoever was picked from those names. And I was supposed to do the same. I knew that beforehand, but when Clove's voice, all composed and emotionless, like she didn't have a care in the world that she was volunteering to kill or be killed in a game that she knew she was going to be betted on, rang out as she volunteered, I couldn't stop myself from flinching a bit.
She turned her head and looked at me then, and something flashed in her eyes. I nodded to let her know I got her back.
Even then we were partners destined to be pit against each other. But this time there won't be any trainers to pull us off each other. This time it will be to the death.
I was too late to save her, but I swore I would never be too late to avenge her.
I ran to the field where 11 disappeared with our backpack and hunted him down until finally, I got to him. I had small cuts on my arms and face because of the grass, but who cares, I found him. One person to pay the price of her death. But then there were a lot more concerned, way more. When I win, I will do everything in my power to bring all of them down. All of them.
I laugh wildly as I hit 11's throat with the handle of the spear, successfully cutting off his air for a moment. While he was disoriented, I took the chance to pin him down to the ground, blade pointed at his heart, both us breathing hardly. I can't speak. I won't speak. Can't have Snow knowing, can I? I chuckle at 11'ss futile efforts to overpower me.
"You're insane." He says quietly, not a jest to provoke me. An observation.
I grin and raise the spear, preparing to bring it down straight to his heart when I heard something.
Ha, maybe I was insane. Clove couldn't have been speaking to me, she was gone. She was gone and I was here to make them pay. Slow and agonizing would do the trick.
"No." the voice continued. "Make it quick. Make it painless. It wasn't his fault."
But Clove, I wanted to whine. I wanted to argue. But then with who? With what? A voice that only I heard?
"It wasn't his fault he was forced to be in this. Just like us. Least pain possible."
The rain poured relentlessly, drenching me and 11. I never thought I would hear Clove say such things. Plead for mercy on behalf of someone else. The very person who killed her, nonetheless. He pushed me off him and grabbed a rock to smash into my face. The spear clattered to the ground and 11 looked at me in shock for a moment before rushing to bring the rock down on my face.
He didn't even stand a chance. I twisted his neck the instant he was close enough. Just like that.
"Sorry." I muttered. The word felt strange on my tongue. Thunder boomed at the same time that the cannon fired. The rain started to fall even harder. "Sorry." I whispered, before grabbing both backpacks and rushing to find shelter.
He's right. I am insane. But hearing her voice… I guess it's the crazy thing to say, but she's the one keeping me sane.
"Go on! Shoot, and we both go down and you win. Go on. I'm dead anyway. I always was, right? I couldn't tell that until now. How's that, is that what they want? I can still do this... I can still do this. One more kill. It's the only thing I know how to do, bringing pride to my district. Not that it matters."
It doesn't matter because even if I win, she won't be with me. It doesn't matter because bringing pride to my district wasn't something I ever gave a flying fuck about. It's true, I've always been dead. Ever since they made me live this death trap of a life, I've always been dead. The only person who made life even a bit worth living was gone.
It doesn't matter.
When Lover Boy raised his bloody fingers to mark an 'X' on my hand, my smile faltered. This was it. I was going to die. But I could still take him with me and let Fire Girl feel the same way I did when Clove died. Thinking you still had the chance to go home together, and then losing them unexpectedly. It will drive her mad. We could have had a chance, and they have it. It's only fair that I rip that chance from them the way they did to us. I die, I bring Lover Boy down with me, easy as that.
"No. They deserve the chance we lost."
And in that moment of indecision, the arrow sunk into my hand and Lover Boy slammed against me.
I cry out, and fall to the mutts.
At that moment I wondered if it was really Clove talking to me all this time, or my sick conscience. I could have made that boy form 11 suffer. He deserved to feel what he made Clove feel during her last moments. And I could have easily brought Lover Boy with me, even if Fire Girl grabbed onto him. She would have won and gone home, forever with the thought that if she had not allowed it to happen, than maybe there would be two victors instead of one. How they had that chance, and lost it in a flash.
The mutts tore at my flesh, but the pain was nothing compared to the euphoria the thought that I was finally going to be free brought. I look at the mutts, and realized it was the other Tributes. The dead ones. Those eyes, those haunted eyes. It was them. A flash of green distracts me from the searing pain brought by a mutt viciously pulling at my arm. And then I see it, the mutt with the collar that says '2'. The muttation of Clove. What did they do? Turn them into dogs? Was that really her? Or was it just another twisted trick of the Gamemakers?
The gush of blood from all my wounds only excited the mutts and they lapped at me, growled and snapped at each other to get the best bites. The pain was maddening. I closed my eyes and groaned. Stupid body armor won't be of any use now.
I looked at her, sitting alone at a table, cutting her steak to pieces with a determined look on her face. Normally I would do the same, sit alone, since no one really wanted to talk to the guy who could break their spines with one hand. I knew she would probably send a knife to my head if I approached her, but something about that look of concentration reminded me of myself. Besides, she couldn't (and wouldn't) kill me that easily.
She glared at me. "What do you want?" she asked, looking down at her steak and determining which cut would suit my face.
She hasn't pinned me to the table and started carving on my face, so I assumed it was no big deal. I sat down and proceeded to eat. I had never spoken to this girl before, but we had fought and trained together in the past. She was the only one who could keep up with me and give me a worthwhile fight. Not even the trainers could be worthier as an opponent. I have heard her name from whispers, they say she's the best among the girls. I didn't believe it at first. This kid? But then we were put against each other about two years past, and at the last moment she had pulled the same trick as I had, and we had each other's throats. Since then I had sought her every time we had cross-trainings. This girl piqued my interest. At first glance she looks dainty and innocent. But anyone who's met her knows that that's not the case. She wouldn't even bother knowing your name before she sends a knife to you jugular once you piss her off.
She dropped her fork on her plate and stood up. I couldn't afford looking stupid, so I pulled the name trick. "Clove."
She stopped and turned to look at me, her green eyes meeting mine with barely concealed surprise. She sat down and I smiled. I got her attention. She had huffed then, and asked me how I knew her name. I gave her the most obvious answer and she started to play with the knife, somehow tolerating my presence.
I caught her by surprise when I asked her that question. "Don't you just hate it?" But then she had nodded and agreed. I knew she would.
A mutual hatred for the nation.
That's what I recognized in those eyes.
Because I felt it too, just as she did.
I opened my mouth and only garbled words came out.
"I'm so sorry, Clove. I was too late to save you."
How long has it been, hours? A day? I don't even know.
I whimpered. A sign of pain. But who cares? Who would care now? What was I being brave for? Nothing. I was at the brink of my death. Bravery wouldn't do me any good now.
In the dim light of dawn, I see Fire Girl looking at me, bow in hand, arrow nocked. Ready to shoot me. Ready to end my misery. There's nothing better I could have asked for then.
I wasn't begging her to end my life. I was asking for freedom.
Cato and Clove.
Clove and Cato.
Just two more fallen tributes of District Two.
The boy who got killed by an arrow to the head and the girl whose skull gut crushed by a rock.
Neither one had emerged from the arena and was crowned Victor.
We could have been more.
We could have been so much more.
Author's Note: How was it?