AN: PASSED MY CLASSES OH YEAH. Celebrating with this. Not exactly romantic but… do you know what happens when a fangirl spasm happens? Yeah, this was one of them. And I wanted to get into Cato's head.
They Stare a Fire's Stare
His eyes touch every part of her body, raking each inch, making her squirm, making her die a little bit inside with each nip of his teeth, every languid motion made upon her skin until her blood is hot, boiling, seeping into his flesh.
"We're coming for you, Girl on Fire!" he hears his companions shout.
He's not sure about them really, but he does promise to catch her.
She's this challenge he can't resist. From the moment she made her debut in the opening ceremonies, cloaked in crimson and gold, looking the majestic piece of art she is, he had it out for her. He won't forget how difficult it was for his pride to be squelched because of her looks, the way she appeared radiant in flames that threatened to scorch her but she evaded them. She's something of a mystery—how strong she is, how she manages to look calm and collected all the time, and she doesn't know the least bit what to do when it comes to being a tribute. Tributes show themselves off because that's how victory is obtained; it is how winning becomes certain.
She doesn't fake anything. Maybe that relationship with the boy from 12, maybe, but all of this—her personality, her vigor, her determination, her ability to think and adapt—is her and her alone.
Maybe that's why he constantly thinks about her.
He hears Glimmer and Clove talking behind him, trying to grab his attention. He diverts it for only a moment to them, because they are his allies, and nothing is more cumbersome than a girl who is ignored; they become banshees when they feel slighted.
Then he's back to watching her.
The night covers their world in depth and manmade stars. Sleep covers them as well in a thick layer—for they are unstoppable, formidable, for who do they have to fear in their fake little family, brought together by circumstance and circumstance alone? So they rest, allowing their guards down, even with Lover Boy so close, because he's not that big of a threat.
Cato is the only one who remains awake, pretending to be asleep.
He watches her every move, trying to see what she is doing up there, in the place where he cannot reach her, singing silent mocking songs.
There's a stir from her, and there is the faint flutter of black on black. Cato watches closely, and then he rises, moving forward until he is right below the tree, trying to make out her figure, to draw her closer.
He knows she is watching him watch her, because that's the only thing they can do in this arena, in this current situation. Neither of them really have the upper hand—she is perched in the tree, a flightless creature on fire; he is right below, a predator waiting for the moment to strike, growing more irritable by the moment because the prey is eluding him.
There's a faint movement coursing through his body. He's not entirely sure what it is; all he knows is that he wants her to come down. He wants this to be over and then he can eliminate everybody else. Killing his companions will be difficult but if it comes to that, then so be it. He will not lose to anyone. He wasn't trained for sixteen years just to die at the hands of someone else, because he remembered humanity, because he remembered pity.
It'll be no different with her.
Then why does he desire to touch her so badly?
He could do something to her, he knows he could. A little heated romance thrown in, tossed into that simmering brew that she and Lover Boy made a while ago. It would make for excellent entertainment, having another rivaling district fall in love with the Girl on Fire. It's bad enough that the star-crossed lovers are from the same district. He wonders how much their sponsors would get a kick out of it. The people of the Capitol are all about drama, style, and gossip without involving themselves personally. The Games contribute to their lives, to their fun, and this sort of thing would be so irresistibly pungent to them.
Perhaps he is reading too much into it; he's never been particularly clever, but he understands power and greed and lust and strength—these are attributes the Capitol possesses. It's what they thrive on.
So he wonders about calling her down to him, sweeping her off her feet, and giving Lover Boy over there a run for his money. He's not experienced in the ways of women, as he so often presents himself. Making romantic ties to women when you're not even sure if you're going to live isn't smart. His parents encouraged him in many things, but losing his head in the dizzying embrace of a woman was not one of them; his head would not be able to think clearly, he would be in love; he would want nothing more than to get back to that beloved one.
So, here, where everything is covered in darkness, he allows himself to dream about normalcy, about a world that would allow something sweet in it, even if the brevity of it was inevitable.
With the days that pass by, he allows a little bit of something to flitter in. Glimmer is very flirtatious, and Clove, despite her viciousness, is very pretty. He has not done anything with them, and he does not intend to. Clove is from his district, and they do know each other; Glimmer is more into the physical touching and, considering they may die at any moment, she does as she pleases.
That's another thing that would drive the whole of the Capitol insane. If he had sex with the Girl on Fire, and made her scream his name so wildly, so passionately, that her fervor would be theirs, they would scream too, and he would live because he entertained them. It's not exactly a secret that sex is also a powerful driving force. He would sometimes see sexual tension rise between certain tributes when he was younger and he would make note of that.
No, the Capitol would not mind at all if there was some ferocious sex occurring somewhere. They sigh when couples embrace; cheer for kisses; sex would drive them over the edge.
There's a crack above his head and he looks up. He sees the faint sketch of her frame in the black. His eyes narrow to make her out and he sees it, whether it's his imagination or not, she is looking down at him.
He imagines the soft faint noise of her breathing, the scent of stale fear and sweat and herbs, dark length of tendrils and skin warmed by the sun and earth. He's never seen her eyes really close.
He wants to know their color…
He lays down, listening to nothing, not even the roar of campfire, having been extinguished some time ago. The only companions he has are the fake light surrounding him, illuminating the small world within a world.
Then she is coming down.
He wonders if she thought he had fallen asleep. Before she even makes the first step in the opposite direction of the Careers, he walks forward, silent, deadly, and his hand is covering her mouth. The huff that escapes her nostrils, the rapid pounding of her heart beneath his palm, clasped about her wrist, the stiffness in her stature—all of it indicates the fear she should feel when it comes to him and he relishes it.
"You're not going to make a sound, or I'll break your neck," he murmurs.
There's the faintest nod and he slowly, slowly, removes his hand.
He turns her in his arms and looks at her. Even this close to death's grip and she's defiant, even if she is a little scared; she's interesting in this way—how she doesn't give a damn that she faces, she will rise above it.
So he bends down to kiss her because she won't be expecting it, nobody will be expecting it; he was the last one to expect him to do something so irrational and foolish. This is still something involving a human being and when things like this happen people tend to get attached in some form or another. This is how he'll mark her, with kisses and touches softer than spider webs, tangling her to him. Their bond won't be severed because it will not be created out of love; it'll be created out of something darker, out of struggles to survive: it'll be a bond formed through fear and hate and rebellion.
The Capitol will be eating this up and they won't even know the extent of what they're consuming.
She's moaning into his mouth—an angry, bitter sound, and he relishes the way it flows down into his throat, liquid fire. Her hands are fisting into his shirt, nails raking into his skin, long drags that leave him breathless.
She bites him then and he pulls back.
She doesn't scream; she's not as stupid as he and the others thought. There's intelligence behind her eyes, radiating into him, stones that cry out.
It reminds him of home.
"You're not going to ask me to let you go?" he inquires.
She only continues to look at him in defiance. She must know there's no point to pleading—he has her pegged, right in the corner of flight or fight. Unless she wants to attract attention, she will not say anything.
"Lover Boy is better at tracking you then we thought."
There's a flicker of something in her face but it's so brief that he wonders if he imagined it.
"Didn't think he'd betray you like that, did you?"
Her fists are clenching and she's about to pound them into his chest, into his face, into his being, but he moves forward and pulls her, willingly, into his being. He invites her in because there's a desperation leaking out from the both of them. In this world where everything is dark and rapturous and violently beautiful, he has to do something to find a way out.
She's a light. She's this beacon of fire, radiating, shining in the darkness, calling him out to the edge of the black forest. A savior thrust out to die. He's back in the memory of when he saw her on fire, a goddess as radiant as the sun, born from coal and poverty; the score she received in training showed her skill, her ability to win, and he's reminded of ancient stories that involved a woman who ruled the earth with a mighty bow and arrow. She's this impossibility: a human that burns but doesn't feel the flames; she'll eventually feel them, she may even be feeling them now—being trapped here in the rage of a child's war wrought by elders; furious at the predicament of killing her fellow tribute from 12; losing everything she loves; burning from the way he's touching her, taking over her.
He has to. She's a light. She doesn't know how brightly she shines, how badly he craves to feel something remotely human in this place where humanity is lost. He doesn't really care if he burns in the process—he just wants to remember what it's like to feel, what warmth feels like.
She's power in flesh and bone and blood. Consuming her will bring about a strength he's lost in the depravity of his soul's cries; the world has ceased to listen. She may not listen either but she can hear. And that's more than enough.
So he moves in, ignoring the way she retreats into herself, ridding the light inside her into herself. He makes sure that she hears the sincerity of it all, that he wants to not hurt her but hurt her at the same time; it's burning so badly inside him, intense and destructive. He's so lost in the ragged breathing emanating from his chest, lost in the way she's weeping, murmuring for it to end. He just doesn't understand anything but he's lessening the pain until her moans are softer, making sure she's lost with him. The world doesn't make sense but this does, at least. People have forgotten the power of touch, the power of proximity, of closeness. Even though they don't know each other, they can try to figure out pieces of themselves; however jagged the pieces are, however dirty they are, however much they dig into their skin.
Humanity is here somewhere, somewhere in their pores, somewhere in their minds, in their hearts. He's tempted to scream, just to release the anxiety and passion and rage and peace that are boiling beneath his soul. She's better than he thought, responding carefully, with precise quick movements that are still languid in range. The power of a fighter.
Her moaning catches him off guard, and she's pulling him to her. Lover Boy apparently never went this far and it's all right with him. He's never gone this far with anyone either. Romance had always been the last thing on his mind at home—romance is supposed to bring life but the place he lives in cannot thrive on that, not that kind of life; they are risk the moment they enter their separate worlds, locked behind fences and rules. He cannot be expected to conquer anything if he is thinking of a woman, of romance and all its frivolous little details.
He's not sure why he's reminded of this detail of home twice. Maybe, because, in some way, he's always wanted that. Always wanted something simple and lovely like romance. Because it's another thing he's deprived of.
So he tries to be normal in vicinity that is not normal at all. He tries to be normal when all around him are things made by insane, bloodthirsty people. But it's all right. He's bloodthirsty in his own way too. He'll admit to be driven by power—that's why he's with her, trying to draw in her reserve.
She's panting, murmuring for him to stop. But he can't—not when he's gone so far to reach her, to find a semblance of himself in the one person who may have the courage to face the world and declare its wrongdoings to its face.
Tempo increases and he's losing it. She is too; she must be, from the way she's falling, the way she's kissing him back, fingers tangling in his hair. Fire is consuming them both, and she's the sun that's about to implode; he's the man who watches her flutter, watches her burn alive, watching the sun come closer to destroy him but it'll be a painless death, a relief to the way the world slaughters—it'll be hot and sweet and he'll feel alive in the flames of her sun, of the star in her body that permeates all remaining good things. His arms reach out for the sun, and he's beckoning it to fall into his arms, he's in control, he's finally in control of someone greater than himself, he'll triumph over something.
The world is screaming passionately, ringing in his ears. They must know it too—that the sun is about to curl into itself, and it'll be the most frightening thing to witness, it'll be the greatest thing they will ever see; even more glorious than the bloodshed of children because this is what life is—dying in a natural way, feeling a natural way, loving in a natural way.
She whispers his name so softly it makes his heart thump wildly.
They stare a fire's stare.
The world cries out as the sun destroys itself, destroys them; he's the only one who remains silent, appreciating the beauty of her destruction and she'll be reborn a new star. And he along with her.
In this kind of death, he's finally allowed to live.
Then the world shatters and he's jarred awake, listening to buzz of venomous things and the shouts resounding.
He looks over his shoulder. She's left the tree, a ray of sunlight that left the world as fast as it came.
He didn't win at all. The sun can never be destroyed.
But he can still try; even if it kills him.
At least it'll be a worthy death. Because when life is so elusive, all one can do is make their death the best thing about their lives.
So he smiles a child's smile as the sun continues to shine and Cato loses his mind to fire.