A/N: Make sure you read the one-shot at the bottom, it's important.

You took my heart and you held it in your mouth
And, with the word all my love came rushing out
And, every whisper, it's the worst,
Emptied out by a single word
There is a hollow in me now…

~Clove~

I would've spent Christmas break with Marvel, but shockingly enough, my parents wanted me to come on their exotic getaway. They wanted to celebrate my verbal commitment to Stanford, because in their book, that was something worth recognizing.

I had a track meet on the thirty-first, so I was home for New Years. Marvel and I rung in 2013 together, as Peeta (a friend of his from debate) invited him to a party at his place. It was weird, hanging out with decent people that night. The vibe was so different than Cato's. The only person there who had something rude to say to me was Peeta's girlfriend.

"What're you doing here?" Katniss asked.

"It's a party, and I'm Marvel's plus one."

"Well. Don't get too drunk, those extra calories might screw up your season," she said.

She was regurgitating exactly the same insult I'd thrown at her last year. Except mine had a nice little punctuation at the end of it, one that went, "Y'know, if you lost the beer belly, you could actually be fast."

Everdeen wasn't a friendly spirit to begin with, and after I said that, she especially had full reign to hate me.

Normally, I would've taunted back at her. Instead, I coolly said, "Good race today." She stared blankly as I walked away, and a smile stretched across my face.

I wasn't done with the bullshit of Glimmer and Cato. I knew that. I knew that this game Cato was playing at would only last so long—she'd get bored, and Marvel would find someone else. You love someone when you admire them. I don't think that applied to either Glimmer or Marvel.

And then there was me and Cato.

I think you're amazing. You can really be a bitch sometimes, but I love how hard you work. I love how obsessive you are about your grades and your times. I love how you try to make your parents happy even when they don't think twice about you. I love how you never say die.

Cato never had to say any of these things to me. But I knew that was how he felt.

So Marvel and I counted down the New Year together. He kissed Finch Emerson as a gag, and we would both laugh about it later. As I watched everyone couple up and settle down for the night, I asked myself the million dollar question.

Do I love him?

Well, if being in love with someone meant you admired them, then it was definitely up in the air. Cato Ludwig was a lot of things, and a lot of bad things at that. He was probably kissing Glimmer Rambin right now, and even though his intentions were good, that didn't mask the fact that he had the girl fooled. She was getting what she wanted, yeah. But it wasn't for the reasons she wanted.

But if it wasn't for Glimmer, my opinion of Cato never would've changed. There wouldn't be anything even remotely redeemable about him.

I wouldn't let myself love an asshole.

I walked outside, and sat down on the Mellarks' front lawn. I clutched a glass of champagne in one hand, and my cellphone in the other. Should I call him? Nahh, now wasn't the time. That'd come eventually.

We had unfinished business, alright. Me and Ludwig. We had baggage, and a story, and I could tell it was going to be one of those things that we wouldn't be able to stop thinking about if we tried.

This wasn't the end of our story. Not even close.

XXX

If I could go back, I'd put my faith into the unknown. I'd put it in Cato. I'd take that risk.

I'd be tiresome, alright. Hope was hard to hold on to. But I'd do it—for better or for worse.

Glimmer and Marvel would learn one day. They'd learn that their 'love,' if you could even call it that much, was all for nothing.

But it's not like I'm one to judge.

Maybe I'm wrong.

Maybe I'm off.

Maybe my "love" wasn't anything more than fascination. Maybe I didn't admire him, and maybe I didn't feel anything for the blonde-haired linebacker.

I'd always look back at that fall. And for the rest of Junior year, I'd wonder if anything I'd felt was real. That scared me. That freaked me out.

The only thing that freaked me out more was the idea that it was all for nothing. I couldn't be that heartless.

Oh, we weren't finished; our story would come to an end eventually.

It just couldn't end like this. Not when we were all still giving each other sweet nothings.

XXX

So I put my faith in something unknown
I'm living on such sweet nothing
But I'm tired of hope with nothing to hold
I'm living on such sweet nothing
And it's hard to learn
And it's hard to love
When you're giving me such sweet nothing
Sweet nothing, sweet nothing
You're giving me such sweet nothing

-Sweet Nothing by Calvin Harris, feat. Florence Welch

XXX

A/N: …soooo check back in a week and a half for the sequel! (You guys didn't seriously think I'd let it end this way, did you? :P)

This fic is completely a one-shot gone awry, because without much warning, the plotline mutated into this thing that I couldn't shake. This is the natural end of Sweet Nothing—this is the end of the Career pack's story as lying, manipulating teenagers. The tone of the sequel is going to be really different, and you'll see the truth come to the surface.

I couldn't be happier with the feedback and reviews I've been getting for this plot-bunny; from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Let me know which other pairings/Florence inspired one-shots you'd like to see me write in the future.

The story continues on December 14th—the title? Shake it Out.

(Also Flo inspired. I'm just that unpredictable.)

Love you all.

xx Nina