A/N: Clato fanfic. Clove is telling the story. Cato and Clove won the 74th Hunger Games. This takes place after the cameras died down and they both regained some privacy. They did not go on the victory tour yet.
Disclaimer: I do NOT own The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins wrote the trilogy.
I walk over to his house as soon as I wake up. I need to talk to him. I open his front door, which I find unlocked. "Cato?" I ask the empty living room.
"In the kitchen!" I hear him yell. He lives alone now. His parents are too busy with his brothers. Even now, when Cato is a victor like them, his parents still ignore him.
I walk over to the table in the kitchen where he is sitting down. By the look on his face, I can see he's shocked to see me here. "Hey. How are you doing?" I ask him, deciding this is a safe way to start the conversation.
"I'm… fine." I meet his eyes and know that he's not. "Any nightmares last night?"
"Yup." I sigh. "They never go away. Did you have any?"
"Of course." he says, as if it would be a crime not to have any.
"Cato…" I begin. "Are you sure you're fine?"
He shrugs and gets up, heading toward his refrigerator. "I guess I am."
I watch him as he opens the fridge and pulls out a bottle. "What's that?" I ask him curiously.
"This, Clove, is something to help with the nightmares." He pulls off the cap and takes a sip. By the strong fumes I know its alcohol.
"Cato!" I yell.
He looks at me like I said the stupidest thing ever. "What?" He slams the bottle on the table, gripping it hard.
"When did you start drinking?" I demand.
"Oh, about when we got home from the Games. Just couldn't deal with the nightmares. I needed some type of relief." He picks up the bottle to take another swig. "Better than turning to morphling."
"Not by much." I mutter under my breath. "Cato, put the bottle down."
He looks at me crazy. "Clove, I- I can't." He holds the bottle tightly to his chest. Our eyes lock on each others and he speaks again. "I love you, Clove."
My eyes widen is shock. "No." I say. I refuse to believe it. "You're… You're just drunk."
"Clove! You saw me take one sip! You don't get drunk from one sip!"
I know he's right, but I still refuse to believe it. "Since when?"
He sighs. "For a while now. Actually years. Ever since that first day of training school."
I think back to that day. We were only eight years old then. I remember them separating us into two groups, boys and girls. The boys went first, showing the trainers their skills. I saw Cato and he performed flawlessly.
Then it was time for the girls. Girl after girl went and they could barely lift a sword or spear. None of them could throw a knife and get it to stick.
It was my turn and I went straight to the knifes. I picked the most lethal looking one there and I felt more than the trainer's eyes watching me. I glanced around and spotted Cato and his crew staring at me, laughing. I ignored them and walked in front of a dummy, a good fifty feet away. I relaxed and threw the knife, right into the dummy's heart. I smirked and heard the boys stop laughing.
"So." I finally say. "All the girls were always all over you. You could have any one of them, especially now that you're a victor. So what made me so different?"
I notice he put the bottle on the table and is sitting down. He's leaning against a cabinet with his knee's to his chest, his hands covering his face. He removes his hands to speak. "Because, Clove." His eyes meet mine. "You were different."
"I- I don't know what you mean."
He forces a little laugh. "I can't explain it, Clove. There's just something about you that makes me want more."
"Oh." is all I can force out. He stands up and picks up the bottle, ready to start drinking. "Cato. Give me the bottle." He hesitates, but hands it over. "All of them." I insist.
"What? No! Clove, don't- don't do this to me." He begins to shake as he begs me.
"Fine," I say as I slam the bottle down on the table, just as he did minutes ago. "I'll just leave then."
He twitches frantically and rushes over to the refrigerator. As he opens it up, he starts taking out bottle after bottle after bottle. When he's done, there's over twenty bottles on the table. I stare at them in shock.
He's a little out of breath. "There. That's all of them. Now, please. Don't leave." He slides down the fridge and stares at the open bottle desperately.
It takes me a moment to answer. "Take it," I say. "Take all of them. I hate you for making me do that to you." he's shaking and twitching and I hate it.
"You- You hate me?" His eyes trail from the bottle to me.
"No." I say in a low voice.
He stands up and picks up the open bottle. I'm prepared for him to start drinking. I'm not prepared when he walks over to the sink and dumps out the alcohol. One by one he empties the bottles, biting his lip as he goes.
"Why'd you do that?"
"It had to happen, anyway." Is all he says. He turns and our eyes meet again. "I love you, Clove."
"Really?" I ask. "You weren't lying?"
"I wasn't lying."
It's all I can do not to fling myself into his arms. Instead I calmly walk over to him and give him a reassuring hug. "Thank you." I hear him whisper. "I needed that."
"I know." I whisper back.
"Clove," he starts. I feel him pull away slightly and lock his gaze with mine. "Why haven't you said anything?"
"What are you talking about? I was talking this whole time."
"I mean, I just told you that I love you, yet you never told me how you feel. All you said is that you don't hate me."
I sigh. "That's not enough, is it?"
"No." He tells me.
"I'm sorry, okay?" I pull away completely and look down at my shoes. "I'm sorry."
"Sorry? For what?"
"For being the way I am!" I yell back.
"What are you talking about, Clove?" He asks me, a little bit more calm.
I stare at him with disbelief. I shake my head, how could he know, anyway? I decide to tell him, to finally let my guard down and open up. "Cato…" I begin. "I spent my whole life building a wall between myself and the people around me. I went to school, did my work, trained, and went home. There was no time for friends… or boyfriends. I learned how not show my emotions. Don't you see? All these years I blocked people like you out for a reason. If I ever became close to someone and they got reaped, then… then I don't know what I would do."
I see him open his mouth to talk, but I stop him. I'm no where near done. "But it's more than just the reaping. I have a problem trusting people. I'm afraid of getting close to somebody and having them ripped away from me with out warning." I pause, catching my breath. "And now look at where we are. Some how, some way, we both made it out of that arena alive and unscathed. You're standing right in front of me and telling me that you love me. Now, tell me, Cato. What would you like me to do?" I'm yelling now, my anger bubbling up inside of me.
Actually, I don't know why I'm yelling. I'm not mad at him. I'm not mad at all. Cato waits a few seconds, waiting to see if I'm done. I look at him for a response. "Clove, I- I don't know what to say."
I let a sigh escape me. "Of course you don't. What can you say, really? That you feel sorry for me? That's not going to change anything…"
"I know, I know. Then let's start off slow. How about friends first? Then we can work from there."
"You mean it?" I ask. I guess it's a good place to start.
"I mean it." he says. "There's a lot I don't know about you, Clove. But I'm willing to take the time to get to know you."
That's a first. Nobody ever wanted to be my friend. My parents don't even know much about me. There's something different about Cato, I think. It's as if I want to open up to him. I know I must pace myself. Even though he proved to me that he must really love me, I'm not ready to let my guard completely down.
I realize there has been silence for a while and Cato speaks up. "So, where should we start?"
As I shrug, I sniff the air. The alcohol fumes are still strong. "Maybe we should clean up this mess. The smell is giving me a headache."
Cato clenches his hand into a fist and bites his lip. "Okay." he mumbles.