"Now the only regret that I've ever had / Is that I didn't give you the shirt off my back." – Blades of Grass, Birdlips

Ice and Fire

I watched her. My own breath no longer important; no longer relevant. It hadn't been for a while, a year and a half. Well it would be this Saturday. And I had spent that time watching her.

Why her though?

I had spent many days asking myself the same question. Someone somewhere had decided this was what I had to do, although I couldn't really work out why. I had watched her, analyzed her every move and she still made no more sense to me that the first time I had glanced at her in our Reaping.

She was something to watch, she had a reason to win. She had a passion that we Careers lacked as a general observation. That was why she had scared me. Cato had disagreed, stating that she was simply sacrificing herself so that her sister could live, but I couldn't see it like that. She was fighting for her sister to return to her sister. She had something worth going back for.

And what did I have? Glory and eternal fame. A fame that would have been shared with the other thirty-four victors from Two. It had seemed appealing at the time, probably because I had had little else to focus on. Everything I did came down to training, and the Games, and killing and death. Never once had I considered that that fame wouldn't be mine. That the glory would evaporate into thin air as soon as the life left my body. No, that had never been a possibility.

At least it hadn't been, until that idiot from Eleven had managed to pin me to the ground and literally beat the life out of me. My metaphorical hands clenched into fists at my sides at the memory. It shouldn't have happened. I'm not sure where it had gone wrong. The plan was so simple. But there was no point getting caught up in such fickle things now. They were over. And I was dead.

I was dead because of a lie that had been promised to me since childhood. A lie that could easily taint the minds of children because we hadn't known anything else. Every year we watched our tributes volunteer for the Games and fight with nobility and honor until their last breath. Was it wrong to want such things? Especially when most parents in Two could only accept their children if they were to volunteer for the Games, because it was how they had been brought up as well. It was a cycle that would never break, because everyone who realized how screwed up it was was dead because of it. It was as foolproof as it was doomed.

Well it had been.

Had been until her.

She had broken everything. The Girl on Fire who had burst into the world that had been so beautifully created to strike fear into the weak and power into the strong and burned it to the ground. Like it was nothing to be scared of.

And oddly I admired her for it. I wished I could have noticed it sooner like she had, but more than that, I wished I could have been the one to break it. Although not with fire; probably with ice. With a cold stare that saw through their lies and froze their lips before the lies could seep through them.

But above everything else, I wished I could have helped her. Wish I could have made the world see that we Careers weren't monsters. That we weren't bloodthirsty murders who lived for the kill. We lived to survive, and survival meant the Games to us. We just, didn't know how to do anything else, couldn't understand a life where we didn't compete because to not compete was to give up everything that was worthwhile. Or so we had been taught.

So maybe I saw the reasons. Maybe I was realizing that I had to watch her to know that she'd had to win. That even though it should have been myself or Cato, it had to be her. Because otherwise other children would be lied to, the cycle never ending. That the games were meant to end in fire and not ice. That if I had known maybe I would have helped her. Probably not to the extent of holding the knife to my own throat, but perhaps just given her the shirt off my back.

Author's Note: So this is a one-shot I wrote for the Nightlock Recs Prompt Challenge, after reading the quote at the top of the page I instantly thought of Katniss and the Careers and couldn't resist writing this short piece . Feedback would be greatly appreciated :)

-R