The reaping was today, and Tubltin walked onto the stage. He had a serious expression on his face and he smiled forcefully at the crowd of people. He announced that they would be choosing the female tribute first. Cato rolled his eyes. As if we don't know that, he thought. He stared straight ahead with a deep frown on his face. Tubletin dipped his hand and pulled out a small piece of paper. Cato closed his eyes, waiting for the name.
"Daffodil Smith." Tubletin called out and Cato's eyes snapped open. No, no, no, no, this could not be happening. Not her, anyone but her. Two Peacemakers made their way to the crowd of girls and took a 17 year old girl by her arms and led her onto the stage. Her clear grey eyes were enough to tell everyone about her state. She had a blank expression on her face as if she didn't realize what was happening. Cato watched with wide eyes as Tubletin smiled at Daffodil. A fake smile as he realized that the girl standing next to him was blind. Cato felt a rush of fear wash over him. He needed to help her. He had to save her. Why wasn't anyone volunteering in her place? He felt like cursing every girl in the area. Finally, he hit a sudden decision.
"I volunteer!" He yelled. "I volunteer as tribute!"
Tubletin smiled widely at Cato and two Peacemakers escorted him to the stage. Cato could feel everyone's eyes on him. He could hear his mother start to cry but he didn't care. Daffodil tilted her head when she heard the voice. She recognized it of course. Cato shook hands with Daffodil whose eyes looked straight through him and then they were led away. His mother and sister ran into the room when they were allowed in. His mother hugged him and whispered words of luck.
"That was the stupidest thing you have ever done." Cato's sister said. "But it was also the bravest. Win this and come back with Daffodil."
Cato's brother and father came next. His father merely patted him on the back and left. His brother pulled him into a crushing hug. "You'll win this. Don't prove me wrong."
Cato nodded and his brother left. The Peacemakers came and took Cato to the train. He sat silently and waited for Daffodil. She entered the room with two Peacemakers and they led her to a chair. She felt her way around and sat down, tilting her head to one side. Cato got up and sat next to her. She turned slightly as if knowing someone was there. Daffodil lifted her hand and felt Cato's face, her way of recognizing a person. She ran her hand softly on his face and then smiled.
"I knew it was you. Why did you volunteer Cato?" She asked.
"Because I-I..." Cato's voice trailed off. Should he tell her the truth? He decided not to. "Because I was ready to. I mean I've been trained for this."
"Oh." Daffodil said simply. She tilted her head as if knowing that Cato was lying to her but she let it pass. A woman entered the cabin. She was wearing no make up and a simple white shirt with white jeans and white shoes. Her red hair was pulled back in a high pony and stars dangled from her ears. She glanced at Cato and then studied Daffodil. She walked towards them. Cato didn't bother getting up. "Hello, I am Alice, your mentor." Alice held out a hand and Cato half heartedly shook it. She turned towards Daffodil. Alice frowned. "I have never met a blind tribute before. District 2 is heartless enough to send her here. Someone should've volunteered in her place."
Daffodil stood up and felt for Alice's face. Her hand rested on Alice's cheek and then she ran her hand on the rest of her face. Alice's frown deepened.
"That's her way of memorizing someone." Cato explained. "So that she knows who she's talking to." Alice understood and nodded slightly. Daffodil let her hand fall to her side and she smiled at Alice. "You have a pretty face." She said and Alice was shocked. She knew she was pretty but being told that by a blind girl was surprising and very interesting. Alice smiled at Daffodil. "I will do whatever I can to help you."
Daffodil nodded. Alice sat down across from the two of them. She told them a few rules, a few survival techniques. Throughout, Daffodil's head was turned towards the window and Cato was staring at the wall behind Alice.
"I am sure the Academy has taught you much but you will need to learn a lot more to survive the games." Alice said to Cato. He nodded absentmindedly. When Daffodil left to go to the bathroom, Alice turned to Cato. "What will you do if the two of you are left?" She asked. Cato frowned. He had never thought of that. "I don't know." He answered. Alice nodded. Daffodil exited the bathroom and Cato led her back to the chair. Alice put her elbow on a table and placed her chin in her hand as she observed Cato and Daffodil. She watched Cato talking to Daffodil and she saw her smiling while looking slightly away from him. He said something and she nodded. And then he patted her head. Alice had a pretty good idea of what Cato would do if the two of them were left. He would let her win.