A/N:Here is Chapter 8! I'm not really sure what is going on in this chapter, but things will pick up soon. Enjoy!
District Two, where people are either born to be Victors, Peacekeepers, or leaders. Then there are the occasional citizens who are able to slip away from society and live a life of peace. Well, as much peace and protection as living in District Two offers.
When I was growing up, there was this older woman whose name I later learned was Margret. She lived just outside of town, where there were a few scattered houses. Most of them were abandoned years ago or occupied by elders who were near death with no family or friends. Margret wasn't on the verge of dying, as far as I know, so she's living there by choice. Somewhere quiet, peaceful, and out of public eye. A life of solitude. The only time she was seen was every other week in the markets, to pickup a few items for her survival. Where the money came from to afford the purchase is beyond me.
My mother and I would go to the markets once a week to pick up things we were running low on in the house. Bread. Meat. Clothes. A fork or spoon. A knife or a bowl. Alcohol. Whatever was an essential, we bought. We would see Margret wandering about, going from stand to stand and seeing what they had to offer. My mother would always tell me stories about her, how she was crazy, and to never speak to her. I used to believe her, thinking this woman was a lunatic. I would think, why would this woman have the world to take, and not even give herself the chance. She could have won the Games, been known across Panem. Could have become a high official and given medals of honor. Margret could have had anything she wanted, but didn't take it.
I wondered what on Earth could make her not want any of that. Now I understand. Margret was lucky, not having to deal with the Capitol. Escaping it's tortures and unusual ways. Perhaps she lost someone to the Games. Maybe they were tortured by the Capitol. Killed, even. It all comes back to the Capitol, I realize. I now know why people were once brave enough to rebel against them. I now understand why they wanted to fight back. And if the opportunity came to cause another rebellion, I'm not sure which side I would fight for.
The Capitol, who has given District Two everything. Safety. Protection. Food. However, our loyalty and services are not enough to exempt us from their evil ways. Every year tributes are still reaped, and every year one of ours dies in their Games. And they trick us into thinking that volunteering and winning the Games is some type of honor and should bring pride to your district. They trick us into thinking that these behaviors are okay and can be justified. But once you take a step back and actually look at the situation with a new perspective, you begin to see all the flaws and cracks in the delicate Capitol.
Most citizens of Panem who live in the wealthier districts are blinded from seeing the truth; too consumed in believing every word that the Capitol says. They become brainwashed by the Capitol and are no longer able to think for themselves. It's people like that who are truly dangerous. It's not the rebels who fight for justice. It's not the other tributes in the Games. It's the people who allow their thoughts to succumb to the Capitol's will and turn those acid thoughts into actions. It's those people who should be labeled 'possible threat'. Because they can believe the twisted words of the Capitol, the words that give them orders based behind false justification. Not only do they believe it, but they fulfill the commands. Whether it's because they're scared of saying no, owe debuts, or simply because they agree that it's right.
The easiest things that break, are the hardest to put back together, My father had once said. I used to thing of it as just material things: a broken vase or a house that burnt down in flames. As I got older, I started to take the quote a bit more seriously. The mourning and sorrow over death, for instant. Life is the easiest thing to take, something that could be gone in seconds. You never know when your last glimpse of sunlight will be, your last words to a loved on, the last thing you will be able to picture as your life slips away. Death is something irreversible, it can never be put back together. Then I realized it wasn't the person who died that you're trying to fix; it's everyone else. When someone dies, that's beyond your control. However, they're not the ones who are left back to try to move on. It's everyone else that must try to carry. It's as if your in slow motion, yet everyone around you is moving fast. The days seem to blur and you don't realize days from nights. What's even worse is being on the outside, watching somebody try to recover over the death of a loved one. That's the feeling of being helpless; no matter what you do, you can't reach them.
I am now able to comprehend how the Capitol is the ultimate definition of that saying. Something so simple can easily set the spark that would destroy it. Words whispered past midnight. A small action seen by unwanted eyes. A double suicide, completely unexpected on the Capitol's part, and against any unwritten rules of the Capitol.
Claudius Templesmith's voice blares throughout the arena, his clipped words congratulating the tributes who remain in the 74th Annual Hunger Games. Cato and I, who are now the only two Careers left, look at each other with a smirk. A silent congrats of our own. Then there's a pause until he speaks again. His next words come as a surprise. Claudius is speaking of a rule change, something about how if there are two remaining tributes, both from the same district, then they both can win. He pauses again before he repeats it, just in case anyone has missed out. Then he's wishing us luck and the static fades out.
I'm thinking Cato is about to propose some sort of elaborate plan, but I never hear his voice. My feet pivot and turn to him, about to ask what he wants to do, when my body is being lifted from the ground. I almost start to thrash when I realize it's only Cato. He's hugging me. I catch sight of his face and his mouth is fixed in a smile, his lips slightly parted. His arms are around my waist, holding me up in the air.
I'm not sure why Cato is reacting this way. Surely it's not because he's fond of me. Perhaps it's because I'm a good partner and his chances of winning just greatly increased. Or maybe he's just so excited to go home that he would have hugged anyone. Either way, I wrap my arms around his neck and force my lips into a smile. Home. The place seems so distant, but I know it's within reach. In days I could be home, relaxing on my couch, training...
I remind myself that once I win, I won't have to train anymore. Though, I'll probably go once a week to stay in shape and get my mind off things. My mind drifts to what it would be like to be the winner of these Games, and then Cato pops into my head. We won. Cato and I.
By now Cato has set me down, but his arms remain around me.
"Aren't you happy, Clove? We could go home! We could win."
I smile and nod, saying, "Of course I'm happy, Cato! It just seems so surreal, you know? But I know we can do it. I know we could win."
Our faces are inches apart, and I think he might kiss me, but instead we just gaze into each others eyes. I finally break eye contact and look down, a smile still on my face. Cato intertwines our fingers and grabs my hand, then takes a step back and walks me over to our camp. I lay down, with Cato sitting beside me, our fingers still laced together.
The sun has set, shades of pink and purple still present in the sky. I know it's not real, but for tonight I allow myself to believe it is. I allow myself to believe that everything will be okay and that winning isn't just some dream that I have trained all my life for. That now it's going to become my reality.
"Go to sleep, Clove," Cato whispers. "I'll keep watch." His lips swoop down and gently brush over my forehead.
I close my eyes, and the last thing my sight captures is a profile of Cato's face, eyes fixed on some point in the distance, his hair moving slowly with the wind. He makes me dream of some perfect world, and as long as I have him, I'll be able to hold on to happiness. And just for tonight, I allow myself to believe it.
"Clove?" There's a voice and I don't remember him being a tribute in the Games.
"Clove!" My name spits off his lips like it's toxic.
"Snap out of it, Clove!" And then there's a name to the voice. It's Bentley.
I look up and see the sun setting over the mountains of District Two, hues of yellow and orange illuminating the sky. It's not the artificial sky that was projected during the Games, the one that I was just picturing in my head when I was laying next to site was as real as it gets, one of the pure beauties of living in Two.
That's where Cato and I are now, back home in District Two. All that's left on the agenda is the party tonight, and then we get some quiet time before we mentor in the next Games. The 75th annual Hunger Games. A Quarter Quell. I'm almost positive that I was alive while the first Quell took place, the year that District Twelve's Haymitch won. If I was, I was too young to remember anything. They barely air re-runs of that year, and when I asked my father why, he used to laugh and say, "That year wasn't... favorable among the Capitol officials." I tried to get him to further explain, but he never would.
There's always a twist to a Quell, Haymitch's year was double the tributes. I could only imagine what type of sick traps they have set up for the tributes, considering the regular Games are already horrific enough. I'm about to go into a deep thought about what type of contraptions they could have planned, when I hear that voice again.
"Clove, I know you can hear me," it says, "So stop ignoring me because I'm not going away until you talk."
Bentley. His name bounces around my head like poison, hitting one stop then moving to another before the toxic can seep through my skull and into my brain. Just thinking about his name makes me get a headache. And then I realize that his voice isn't in my head and there's a reason why I'm thinking about him. He's sitting right next to me.
Now I remember where I am, how I got here, and why I came. Cato and I had some down time before the party tonight, so I took the opportunity to take a walk. I stumbled upon the bench outside of the training academy and decided to rest. That's when I saw the mountains in the distance, or rather, a Capitol headquarter. And that's when I launched into a detailed thought of our government.
I turn to my left, and to my disappointment, I see Bentley sitting dangerously close to me. He must have went to work out today, in between the events. And here he had to end up coming out right as I was sitting outside.
He wants me to talk to him. I'm not going to. I refuse. With a slight shake of my head, I get up from the bench and start to walk back to Victor's Village, where I now live.
Bentley catches up to me and says, "Can we just talk, Clove? Please?" His voice sounds desperate, and to any girl they would melt at his every word. But I knew better. He used that voice to get what he wants, but it's not working on me anymore.
"Leave me alone," I say, not daring to speak his name. My lips might fall off at the attempt.
He pauses and I'm thinking he might leave, but then his voice fills the air. "I saw you on TV, you know. The whole love story with Cato is cute. Though, I'm not sure how accurate―"
I spin on my heels, startling him by stopping short. I look at him with disgust, cutting him off mid-sentence. "Stop acting like you know everything! Because you don't! I'm more happy with Cato than I ever was with you! So get over it, already!" I pause, looking him up and down, shaking my head. I slowly walk back as I say, "All you are is pathetic. Just leave me alone."
I don't even look back as I walk away, but I think he stands there for a moment, because I hear footsteps, but they're fading away. Is he mad? Absolutely. Do I care? No.
Victor's Village is just up ahead, and because District Two has a lot of Victor's, I have to walk a bit before I reach where Cato and I's houses are. When I do, I see that Cato is sitting on his porch steps, his eyes staring at one point. I wonder what fills his mind that makes it so occupied. Thoughts of the Game? Victory tour? Life before winning? His family? The Capitol? Another district? Me?
And suddenly the thought of Cato and I slither inside my head and crawl into every corner of my mind, leaving behind bits of feelings. His soft lips. His arms around me. The way all he wanted was me. His hands all over my body. The kisses on my neck. His fingers laced through my hair. His body hover―
At first I feel my foot caught, but my body still going. Then the ground starts coming closer and I realize I'm falling. Naturally, I put my hands out, hoping it would retard my fall. Once my hands make contact with the rocky gravel, I make somewhat of a strangled gasp and roll over. It's my hands and knees that got the worst of it. Just a few scratches; there was barely any blood.
My sharp inhale must have woken up Cato from his daze, because his voice sounds confused as he calls out my name. Then, I guess he saw me on the ground and jogged over to me.
"Clove! Why the hell are you on the ground?" His hand goes on my back, giving me support as I sit up.
I fell because I was distracted thinking about Cato. How embarrassing! I hope he can't notice the slight pink tint to my cheeks right now, or that would be twice as humiliating.
I stutter and say, "I, um, tripped... And fell."
He frowns. "Doesn't sound like something you would do."
Cato stands up and offers me a hand. I take it and pull myself up, not worrying about the cuts on my hands and knees. They're painless and will go away in a few days.
"I was distracted," I mumble.
"Oh," he says, "Must have been quite the dis―"
"Just drop it, okay!" I snap. Instantly I regret it because for just a second, hurt registers on Cato's face, and then is replaced by a cold, blank stare.
He lets go of my hand and says, "I was only trying to help." And then he's gone.
"Cato! Wait! Please, please come back." I beg.
"Why?" He snarls. "So you can be rude to me? So you can―"
"I saw Bentley, okay! That's why I'm a little on edge." I pause, letting my words sink in. It's true, I did see Bentley and I was on edge because of that. But I didn't snap at Cato for that reason. I snapped because I was embarrassed for literally falling over him.
Cato's face shows a mix of emotions. Confusion. Anger. Upset. Sympathetic. "Oh," he says, "You went to see the little bastard?"
"No," I quickly say. "I was sitting outside of the academy and he came over to me. He wanted to talk, but I left. Then he was saying how us being in love is an act and he doesn't think I love you." Before Cato cant interrupt, I add, "But I told him that that wasn't true, that I'm over him, that he should get over himself and move on, and that he was pathetic."
"Well, that's... good. Maybe he'll get the message. But if you want to come inside and talk, we could do that." He's referring to going inside his house and continuing this conversation. But I already know what he wants to talk about. The part about me loving him.
"Sure." I say and follow him inside. Once inside, we cross into the living room and sit on his couch. I glance over to the doorway where Cato and I had first kissed. I suppress a smile and look away.
He asks, "Is what you told him true? That you love me?"
I sigh. "Do you remember that night on the train? After the Capitol party?"
He pauses. "Yeah. Brutus and I were... drinking. Then I went into the train and was with some girl. I don't really remember who. But then we were talking and kissing." He stops speaking, taking the time to form a small smirk on his lips. "A lot of kissing. The next thing I remember was she was gone."
He doesn't remember. Not the words that were exchanged. Not the delicate kisses across each others skin. He doesn't remember me walking out on him.
I blurt out, "It's me, Cato! I'm the one who was with you that night!"
Shock washes over his features, then recognition. He almost gasps as our eyes connect. "You told me... You told me that you loved me."
I look down and say, "I can't. But it's too late. Because my feelings for you will always be there."
"I know you don't love easily. After Bentley. But things are different, Clove. I won't hurt you, and you know that. We're Victors. Untouchable. Me, you. Us. We can. Just say yes."
"You don't get it!" I'm about to start explaining all about what my father taught me about love, my personal fears, and the Capitol's interference. Then I notice two flaws in my plan. Cato is as much Capitol as you can get without being born there. Raised to be a Victor. A killer. Brainwashed into thinking that this was the best honor that could be given I've forgotten how oblivious he is. Second, I'm almost positive the houses have cameras and microphones. I keep it short and finish by saying, "I'm just... Just afraid. I know things can be different, but after what happened, well, it's just something hard to get over."
"Then let me help you." His fingers intertwine with mine, our palms pressed against each other. "If you want me to," he adds.
His lips are so close to mine, that I feel the warmth of his breath, can almost taste the sweetness of his lips. I manage to choke out, "I want you."
Cato's lips capture mine in his own, our lips opening and closing in on each others. My arms go around his neck, his around my waist. My one hand travels to the side of his neck, while the other runs through his hair, hooking bits of it between my fingers. As I lean forward into him, he falls back on the couch, and I end up on top of him, straddling his waist. His fingertips brush against my skin, under my shirt, and slowly ghost their way up and down my sides. Then his hands begin to pull up my shirt, making me sit up then lay down on the couch.
Now it's Cato who is on top of me, his lips stringing kisses along my neck. I begin to tug his shirt over his head, then toss it on the floor. Instantly, our lips collide and start to move in sync. My hands graze Cato's chest before he begins to suck on my neck. Then my hands wrap around to his back, clawing on his skin in bliss.
The last time this happened, Cato was drunk and I wasn't thinking straight. Now he's completely aware of his actions and I am as well. Right now was about when I pulled away from him, but I'm not sure if I want to. Instead, I allow myself to be totally consumed with Cato. His lips leaving marks across my chest. His hands on my hips. The way he is still managing to be genital at the touch.
Our lips reconnect, and the feeling is overwhelming. Every kiss sends tingles down my spine, and I wish it never ended, However, Cato pulls away and rests his forehead on him.
He breathes out, "I'm in love with you, Clove. Promise me you won't leave me."
This is a side to Cato that no one would guess he had. Behind the cocky smile, tough appearance, murderous hands, holds a fragile being with real feelings. Somebody who is scared to lose the one he loves. Somebody who is easily broken and hard to fix.
And I refuse to be the one to break him. So I whisper back, "I promise."
A/N: This chapter is a lot longer, so hopefully it was good and not boring! I updated in a week like said, so I'm really trying to keep my word.
Please review, it means a lot to me! Give me thoughts on the story, and what you would like to see happen. Anything, really! Thanks!