A/N: Deeply sorry it took so long but here it is. A bit of a filler chapter but so it goes. Read on and I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: You all know by now that I don't own it!
My head snaps down and our eyes lock. He has his ever present smirk on his face, like he's caught me. Oh how I'd like to wipe it off...he thinks he's so smart.
"It never came up, I guess. How did you find me?"
"We're hunting. The birds went really quiet and I caught the last of the song before they started singing it. I followed the sound and waited when I couldn't figure out where it was coming from anymore. The others moved on to the person who lit the fire over there. I was about to go find them when you spoke and I knew it was you. You should sing more often."
"Thanks, but I only sang because Rue asked. It reminds me of all this stuff I'd rather not remember right now."
"What? So you wouldn't sing for me, but you'll sing for her? Hmph!"
"Awe. Is wittle Cato jealous?"
"Don't be stupid. Now, won't you come down and give me a proper hello?"
"Are you alone?"
"Of course I am. Didn't you hear me when I said they went on without me?"
A scream from somewhere behind me echoes through the night. Looks like they found the person who lit the fire...
"Sir, the tributes from Districts 1, 2 and 4 have reached the area where the fire and the girl from District 8 are. Should we switch the footage to them?"
"No. Stay on Cato and the Girl on Fire. The tribute's death can be replayed later on." According to the polls, this love story is by far the most popular theme this year. So for now, it is in my best interest to focus on that.
Besides, let the Capitol get their love story for now. It's not like the odds are actually in their favour. Not really. But no one knows the orders I've received yet.
I make my way down to the lowest branch and jump down into Cato's waiting arms.
"Hi." I nuzzle into his neck breathing him in. It's like he knew I just needed some comfort and found me. Okay, that's a little corny but his timing really is impeccable.
"So how are you holding up? Was today okay?"
"Yes. I found Rue. More like she found me so we started sticking together. Oh, and Clove tried to kill me, twice."
"That's nice about Rue. I know you like her and... WHAT? Clove tried to kill you?"
"Yeah, at the bloodbath. She's not..."
"Too fond of you, but we knew that before the Games began." He looks at me warning me not to divulge our plan to Panem. Right. We still have a game to survive.
"How about you?"
"The day has been okay. The bloodbath was actually a lot of fun. It was more than what they made it out to be in training. What's wrong?"
By this time I've disengaged from him, staring at him in utter disbelief. This is not the Cato I know.
"What? You enjoyed killing all those children?" I say, barely repressing my rage. How can he stand there and be happy about what he's done?
"Katniss, you know that's not it. I just wouldn't let myself think about it that way. I couldn't."
She's crossing her arms and is completely unconvinced, yet I'm not the monster everyone thinks I am.
"I'm just doing what I have to do to get home, Kat. I'll hardly be able to do what needs to be done if I keep looking at the tributes like they're people."
She's just standing there like she doesn't want to see the logic in what I'm saying. Finally, she sighs and moves toward me.
"You're right. I'm sorry." Then she whispers, so the cameras won't pick up what she's saying, "I just hate the fact that you have to kill people to make it out of here."
I take a few steps forward and back her up against her tree. She looks up at me and I bend my head down to her.
I never really thought about it before now, but I think I actually missed her today, although there wasn't a lot of time to think of her. My focus was on staying alive and getting out of here.
My arms go around his neck pulling him as close as possible. He kisses me softly below my ear and whispers, "I know, Kitten, but we've got to do it."
With that he resumes placing feather light kisses along my neck and my jaw pressing into the tree with his body.
I growl. What?!
"As much as I'd like to continue this, now isn't really the right..."
I kiss her forcefully. There! That will shut her up for now. She tries to resist me at first but she FINALLY sees reason and melts into the kiss. I sohave her wrapped around my finger!
Hmm. Against all odds, considering she's from Twelve, that girl really is quite enchanting. I can see why Cato would forget all his lessons whenever he's around her. The Academy taught him, and me for that matter, that emotions were for the weak and not to have them. If we did have them, we certainly couldn't show them because that guaranteed you a beating. Most of those who come out of the Games victorious know better. There's still a front to present to the outside world but deep down we're all scarred and broken.
Still, the Girl on Fire balances him out; compliments him regardless of her strength and feistiness. She brings out his humanity. They will be a force to reckon with once they get together.
Haymitch really wasn't kidding when he talked about her. The alliance with the little girl is a perfect example. She refuses to compromise her morals despite where she is right now. It's stupid but admirable, nonetheless.
"You were saying, Firegirl?" And the cocky ass is back!
"I was saying that now isn't the time and place for drawn out displays of affection", she huffs.
"You could have fooled me!"
"Yeah, well..." Ha! He stumped her. Go Cato!
"Just say it."
"That you're putty in my hands. That I'm irresistible." Oh God... He's definitely laying it on too thick now. Really Cato?
"Hey Brutus! Your tribute is a little full of himself, isn't he?" Haymitch yells out. I shrug in response. "It's not my doing!"
"Don't flatter yourself, Pretty Boy. You're just a good kisser. Everyone knows that I'm the irresistible one and that YOU are putty in MY hands." Her eyes glint mischievously as she says this last part. She's good!
It's Cato's time to huff. "You of course would think that, wouldn't you?"
"Oh, but I do. Remember how this all began? No? Let me refresh your memory a little, starting while we were still in our chariots in the Victors' Circle and then at the welcome dinner?"
While Cato takes a few seconds to think about what she's saying and the smirk grows on her face, Finnick shouts, "I like her, 'Mitch! Putting him in his place, she is!"
His face completely deadpan, Haymitch responds, "Of course she is. His ego needs to be taken down a notch or two. He walks around like he's God's gift to women."
"More like the whole nation!" I quip.
Practically the whole room erupts in laughter at that. Even Enobaria cracks a half smile before we all turn back to the screen to hear Cato's witty reply.
"You... That doesn't count!" Very witty indeed...
"Oh yes it does! You chased me remember?"
Cato grumbles, "You're ruining my street cred, Katniss..."
Laughter bursts out from absolutely everyone in the viewing room at that.
"Sorry, babe, I just need to make things clear." She gives him a peck on the lips. "Now you have to go; your friendsare getting closer and they can't find me down here."
"You know I won't let them do anything to you."
"Yes, I know, but I don't want them attacking you either. It's easier if you just go now and let me climb back up to Rue. We'll be safe up there."
He touches his forehead to mine and sighs. " You're right, I should go. Are you sure you'll be safe?"
"I'm sure. You can't even see Rue from down here in the darkness."
"Ok, fine. Just... don't do anything stupid like getting yourself killed alright?"
"I won't. Same goes for you."
"You don't have to worry about me, love. I'll be fine."
"Cocky bastard. Go!"
With a final peck on the lips he's gone. I climb back up my tree just in time to hear him catch up with the rest of the Careers. Whew!That was close. Another minute and they would have caught us. Once I'm back on the branch where Rue is sleeping soundly, I slip back into the sleeping bag and slowly drift off.
"Cato! Where the hell were you? You missed the first kill of the night!"
"I was busy, Marvel."
"Sucking face with Twelve were you?"
"Come on, Marvel, Cato wouldn't really stoop that low. Not when I'm around."
A chorus of voices shout, "Shut up, Glimmer."
"What? It's true! Who would want that scrawny scum when they can have me?"
"Geez, Glimmer! If it were possible, I'd say you have a bigger ego than Cato."
"Screw you, Clove. You're just jealous."
"Of being an airhead?"
"Hmph! I don't know why I put up with this crap."
"Because you want to be near the awesomeness that is me."
"That's just great Glimmer, now you've got Cato going!"
"Shut up Clove! You're just jealous he's paying attention to me and not you!"
"Enough! You guys are acting like children." I receive indignant huffs from Clove, Glimmer and Marvel. "Don't we have some hunting to do?"
They all give me a stiff nod and we proceed in silence. We still have a few hours before we need to head back to the Cornucopia and get some sleep. We try to cover as much ground as possible and along the way, it occurs to me I was able to dodge answering their questions as to my whereabouts earlier. I'm sure they all suspect I was with Katniss but for all they know I heard a sound and thought it was another tribute. Well it was but...
I shake my head, trying to rid myself of the confusing turn my mind has taken. I need to focus on finding the next tribute. When the sky starts to lighten, we head back to the Cornucopia to get some sleep. As we pass a rock formation, I think I see something moving out of the corner of my eye, yet when I look back in that direction, there is nothing but rocks. It must be my tired brain making me see things. We finally reach the Cornucopia and with a tired groan, I lower myself on my sleeping bag and after ascertaining that Marvel will be taking first watch, I fall in a deep dreamless sleep.
A/N: Thanks to all those who reviewed, favorited and alerted. You guys are the reason I keep writing. I hope you liked this chapter! Please let me know what you thought.