It takes him fourteen years.
She wins her Hunger Games (the 60th) at fifteen years old. Brutus is twenty-five at the time and is sitting on a comfortable couch in the middle of his Capitol apartment.
Enobaria Lapsis is the youngest volunteer from Two in a decade. She had so much time, everyone lamented when she stepped proudly up onto the stage. So much time in which to hone her skills and make herself a Victor, and she threw it all away on the off chance that she'd win. The male tribute from Two, Julian, is eighteen and powerfully built – the standard, for all the volunteers that come from Brutus's district. And there, next to him, is this wiry, tallish girl who looks for all the world like she should be sitting quietly in an Academy classroom. Not stabbing dummies at the Training Center.
But Brutus has a bad habit of picking favorites, and he would be lying if he said Enobaria is not his favorite for the 60th Games.
In the next week, the little girl from Two transitions. She goes from having 1:20 odds to 13:1. Her clothes rip in the Arena and her muscles are defined, her skin pale but tanning quickly. She becomes less of a child and more of a warrior, a bloodthirsty being unafraid to kill.
He is proud.
Fourteen years later and Enobaria's odds have probably increased astronomically in her favor. The position of Capitol Darling has been passed over to Cashmere Clear from District One (and, unbeknownst to him, Katniss Everdeen will be crowned this title in just a few days), but that doesn't make Brutus's favorite any less dangerous. Her teeth end in sharp golden points, and two months after she has that done, she waltzes into the Victor's Village with a diamond in her left canine.
Brutus is never sure if this decision is entirely hers. On one hand, it is exactly the type of thing Enobaria would do.
On the other, she enjoys eating, and that's hard to do when there is a large possibility of biting through your own tongue with every helping of truffle-glazed potatoes.
Clove volunteers for the 74th Annual Hunger Games, and when he sees the glint of malicious potential in her gunmetal-grey eyes, it reminds him strikingly of Enobaria. (She's sitting next to him eating ice cubes at the time.)
"Cato is the best we've had in years," she says, and a glassy crunch issues from the woman on the cushion to his right. This is a yearly ritual, watching the Reaping on television from Brutus's house in the Victor's Village. "Who volunteered from One?"
Brutus shrugs. "Gloss is trying to get his buddy's daughter to do it. Glimmer."
"Glimmer?" She quirks an eyebrow and pours the rest of her glass of ice into her mouth. "Glimmer Eustacia Quinn, daughter of Gild Demetrius Clear?" Now it is his turn to stare at her skeptically.
"Yeah, sure. That one."
"Fuck," says Enobaria, chewing her ice loudly, "you really think Cash's niece could do this?"
"Cashmere did it."
Enobaria rolls her eyes. "Pure luck. Anyways, guess the odds are in our Clove's favor, if that's who her biggest competition is."
"Her biggest competition is Cato," he says calmly. "Besides, I thought you didn't pick favorites." Enobaria snorts and stands up, folding her arms.
"I've been down to the Training Center. I've met her before." She grins, golden and sharp. "Cato better watch his back. That's all I'm gonna say."
"You're not staying here?" he asks her as she walks to the doorway, more to needle her than anything else. She turns around and gives him a look that stings like salt in a wound.
She shakes her head, half-laughs.
"In your dreams."
She leaves and he turns off the television.
Too cocky for her own good.
She always was.