Author's note: Hi all, this is my first fanfiction story. I've read pretty much all the Cato/Katniss stories on this site and wondered if I could take a stab at one myself. Hope you all like it! Let me know what you think. Pretty please? :)
Disclaimer: I do not hold any rights over the Hunger Games nor is this fanfic based on any others that exist to my knowledge. Any resemblance is purely accidental. The Hunger Games are the sole property of Suzanne Collins (and her publisher, most likely!)
As I watch the recap of the reaping on the train, I can help but think to myself that it is a truth universally acknowledged that a Career tribute, born and bred for the Hunger Games, must be in want of a weapon. And a body. After all, they train for the Games their whole lives. Can they really know anything other than bloodlust?
As I stare at the male District 2 tribute, a volunteer (surprise, surprise!) like me, I can't help but feel that it's all true. His eyes are cold, a killer's eyes. It is a chilling thought; one that I have to settle into before I come face to face with him in particular. I cannot show fear, or that they, the Careers, intimidate me. It will not do. Not at all.
3 hours before, Justice Building, post-Reaping:
"Remember Catnip, Gale says to me in my room at the Justice building, you can't let them know you're afraid. You are coming back to us. There is no other alternative."
"I know Gale, but I'm not sure I can come out of this..."
"You have to be sure. If you doubt yourself, you won't come back to us. Just always remember why you volunteered. Think of Prim."
"You'll take care of her while I'm gone, won't you? I don't know if mom will be able to keep herself together", I choke on my words as I think of my poor baby sister, reaped in her first year. The odds are never in our favour, not in my family...
"I will Katniss, but you have to come back because I won't be able to take care of her forever... I start working in the mines soon and I won't have time to hunt."
I know he means well, but I can't help but feel a little betrayed by this statement. As tears continue to roll down my cheeks, Gale sees this and envelops me into one of his bear hugs.
"Everything will be alright, Catnip. Just remember that we all love you and need you to come home."
As I stare at the television screen, unseeing, I can't help but feel a pang of regret because I will most likely not be coming back. But I have to try.I school my features back into an impassive expression, not giving my doubts away.
Haymitch, although drunk, surreptitiously observes Peeta, the male District 12 tribute, and I to see if we tributes are different this year. Do we have the will to fight back? Or will we die in the bloodbath like most other tributes from our district?
I know he isn't as drunk as he is making it seem. His eyes are still calculating, keen and haunted. Why are they haunted? I'm not sure. Probably because of the Games. I have seen the victors on the Victory Tour. Their eyes are never the same when they come out of there...
I notice, out of the corner of my eye, that Haymitch is studying me. I turn my eyes to him and raise an eyebrow at him, wordlessly asking how my evaluation is coming along. Grey meets grey as he gives me an almost imperceptible smirk. I don't know what it means so I put it out of my mind and return to the recap where a little girl's name has just been called in District 11. Her name is Rue. All I can think of when I look at her is Prim. She has the same innocent eyes and seems terrified, just like Prim was when her name was called. I feel an irrepressible urge to protect Rue. To do everything in my power to keep her from being killed.
Our Reaping goes by and I rise to go back to my room on this opulent train. I shower and changer and fall into the massive bed in the middle of my room and drift off into a restless slumber as we speed closer to our deaths.
What little sleep I get is riddled with nightmares, one of which sticks out in my mind. I wake up from it covered in sweat and screaming.
I am running in the woods with all the nameless tributes chasing me, each holding a weapon. I am weaponless. I've tried climbing a tree to escape but in vain. I'm getting more and more winded and have to stop but I don't. That's until I come to a cliff and there's nowhere to go. I can't jump down to my death or let the tributes catch and kill me.
I am going to jump. It's better going out in your own way than by someone who just may make your death agonizingly painful. I brace myself to jump down the rocky cliff but I something holds me back. It's Peeta, the Boy with the Bread, to whom I owe my life and my family's. I look him in the eyes to see if he's there to help or harm me but his eyes don't give much away. Which is odd since his eyes are always so expressive. Suddenly his expression changes to the one I'm used to seeing every time he looks at me. I'm not exactly sure what it means but it's warm and full of some kind of emotion – almost the same look I get from Prim but different...like Gale's.
"Peeta, please help me", I plead. I'm not quite sure what the look in his eyes means but I sure as hell try to work into my favour so I don't have to die by those tributes.
As they corner Peeta and I, I look around to try and find an escape route. Anything will do at this point. But then, I feel a sharp pain in my gut. I look down and see red blossoming on my shirt. I feel the blood dripping down my stomach and I look up to see Peeta's eyes, the blue of the sky on a warm, cloudless, sunny day. They have hardened to ice and a look of hatred is plastered on his face, smirk and all.
The other tributes advance on me as Peeta backs away laughing and they start to cut me. But I don't die. I must endure each slice from each tribute until I feel weightless. I am no longer touching the ground. Someone has raised me up in their arms and is carrying my away from the torture. I see Prim in the distance, lying on the ground covered in red. The comes Gale's body. I cry out for them knowing nothing can be done. As I look around wildly I see more bodies on the ground. Madge, Posy, Rory, Mom, Hazelle, Vick, everyone I care about is there. They are all dead. I scream for them all but nothing helps. I am crying. Having been set back down on the ground, I start to run to Prim's body screaming her name until I feel a pair of strong arms embrace me. They are comforting.
He whispers in my ear that it will all be okay. I look up and see that the person comforting me is none other than the District 2 tribute. He looks at me with the same caring eyes as Peeta. I cling to him wanting him to make it all go away but as look into his eyes, I feel my chest start to constrict. It is getting harder and harder to breathe. I never break eye contact and ask him why.
He says "Because you cannot win, Katniss".
That's when I wake up.