And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I'm always dragging that horse around

Our love is questioned, such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it's always darkest before the dawn

-Shake it Out, by Florence + the Machine

~Cato~

"Are you busy?"

I had to blink twice, because the image in front of me wasn't registering. Glimmer Rambin was on my doorstep, and she was my day-before-Christmas-morning surprise.

"Um, no," I said, swinging it open, motioning for her to come in. Pick your jaw off the floor, Cato, you're being rude. "Sorry, I'm tactless. Do you want something to drink?"

"Thanks, but no. I won't be long." She shrugged off her coat.

I nodded, going to the kitchen myself while she situated herself in my living room. I toyed with the idea of slipping vodka into my water glass instead of water, because I'd just woken up and it was too damn early for this bullshit—

I looked at the clock. 12:45.

Ooookay, Cato. Best to put señor vodka away.

I was still wiping the crud on my eyes as I walked back to Glimmer. She looked like Glimmer, alright. Except less flashy and more . . . comfortable? Assertive? Her clothing was throwing me off, in between the skintight sweater and the riding boots.

"So," I said, clearing my throat and sitting next to her. "Did you have a good weekend?"

"Cato, I need to tell you something."

I raised a brow. Could I guess where this was going? Nah, my brain wasn't cooperating.

"Okay—"

"Marvel came to see me on Saturday. We talked for a while, and I realized—"

"I already know," I cut in. "He told me. He told me you two talked, I mean."

She didn't bother hiding her stunned reaction. "Oh. Okay then." She paused before saying, "Did you two plan this, or—"

"Kind of," I said. "He was cryptic about it, he just said he wanted to talk to you and asked me to cover for him at his parents' party."

"Did he tell you what we talked about?"

I shrugged. "Not really. But I got the implication."

She nodded. I didn't say anything, so she took that as a cue to go on.

"Well, I've been thinking about it a lot the last couple of days." She sighed. We never had conversations like this. At least not when we were sober. "I'm done with this bullshit. It's not worth it anymore."

I nodded. She turned and looked me in the eye.

"I need to know the truth."

"Okay," I answered.

"Are you still in love with Clove?"

Her words hung in the air. Well, hurrah for Glimmer for pulling one over me—a girl that popular knew all of the secrets of evasion and manipulation to get the information she wanted. And she was getting right to the point.

"I think you can answer that yourself," I said.

She nodded. She didn't say anything, so I took that as my cue to talk.

"My turn to ask a question." She mildly nodded. "Are you still in love with me?"

She thought for a minute. I resisted the urge to wipe the crud out of my eyes.

You're seeing clearly, Cato. Stop telling yourself this isn't happening.

"No," she said. "I don't think so."

Point two for Glimmer.

"I'm not sure how much I ever actually felt for you," she explained. "I know I really, really liked you, but when we started dating, I was expecting the push-and-pull jerk-off Cato, and not some . . ." She motioned towards me, fumbling.

"Nice guy?" I said.

"Yeah. That. It's not that I liked you any less, it's just—"

"The appeal was gone," I finished. I nodded. "I felt the same way, after a while."

"Really?"

"Really." I looked her dead in the eye. "I always thought you were the hottest girl in school. Not that you aren't anymore, but I kind of realized that—"

"Blonde hair and big boobs wasn't what you wanted?"

"It wasn't what I needed," I said. "C'mon, Glimmer, let's be real here. I can't date someone that's as much of a nymphomaniac as I am."

It was funny, in its own weird, completely fucked up way. We both stifled laughter; I still couldn't get over the fact that Glimmer Rambin was sitting in my living room.

"I guess that's that," she said. "You're in love with Clove."

"And you're out of love with me."

"See? Convenient." Her tone couldn't be more wistful.

It was. Really. I'd celebrated my eighteenth birthday last month, and Glimmer would be a legal adult in May. It'd taken us so long to figure out how to stop making things complicated for ourselves.

Things are more convenient when you're honest.

Well, so long as we were having a moment-

"Glimmer," I started. She turned to me. "If there's one thing dating you made me realize, it's that I really do like you. Maybe not in that way—"

"Yeah, I get it. That was always Clove—"

"But doing more than fucking you was good for us. For you." She raised a brow, startled.

"Gee, thanks," she said, slightly offended.

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, yeah. But seriously. You're a better person in ways you don't give yourself credit to be."

"Really. How so?"

I thought of the Glimmer Rambin that'd transferred to Madison our freshman year, the ex private school girl, the bottle blonde dream. If her big boobs and beautiful smile didn't draw you in, then her air of confidence did. She knew she was gorgeous and charming, and she used it to her advantage. She could be a good flirt and fun person to party with, and she had just about all of the stereotypical conventions of a Queen Bee. She didn't just fill that role—she was it.

And then I dated her.

"You're fearless now," I said. I thought of Erin and Jen, the girls she'd been a friend with for years. How she gradually distanced herself, and then dropped them altogether. They also happened to be the two most popular girls in school. "You don't care what other people think of you anymore. Do you?"

She shrugged. If she was surprised at the direction our conversation was taking, she hid it well. "I think everyone does, at least a little. But, if what you're saying is that I stopped trying to be the Homecoming Queen—you're right."

"Why?"

"Because I knew I was." She smirked. "I am. I know I'm charming and good looking and that I can get anyone I want, at least anyone that's worth it, and that's good enough for me."

"Is that why you're not friends with Erin and Jen anymore?" I asked. I added, "Is that why you're breaking up with me?"

"I'm not going to surround myself with people that I can't stand, at least not for the sake of popularity." She put her hand on my knee. "And I'm not breaking up with you, Cato. Technically, it's a mutual thing."

I laughed. "So now you can't stand me?"

"No. But you picked Clove Fuhrman over me." She snorted. "You've got bad taste, man."

"Yeah, yeah," I said.

We didn't say anything for a minute. As she surveyed me, I didn't have to guess what was running through her mind. I knew what she thought of me.

If I didn't like her, I wasn't worth it.

She didn't know how right she was.

I looked to the clock. Had it really only been ten minutes since she walked through my door? Well, now that most everything had been said, I guess it was our chance to get any final unpleasant truths out of the way. I hated you at first—I hated our relationship—you've scarred me—you've cost me a good friend. But there wasn't any need to. We both knew. And we both knew that whatever had happened last year was part of a distant past, and those people were very, very different than the ones sitting in my living room.

Everything was coming full circle. There was only one last thing to say.

"You better talk to me when you're in college," I said.

"You better believe I will."

"Even when you're too busy getting with frat boys and football players?"

She rolled her eyes, amused. "It's your own damn fault for not loving me, Ludwig."

I thought of Clove, and then I thought of Glimmer. I glanced over the blonde vixen in front of me, in all of her best and worst qualities.

Glimmer Rambin was a lot of things. Headstrong. Beautiful. Confident. Stubborn.

Honest.

"You're right," I said. "It is."

XXX

A/N: Fun fact—before I shipped Clato, I shipped Glato. Clearly that's changed, but the part of me that fangirled over Alexander Ludwig and Leven Rambin last year probably wrote this.

Check out my tumblr if you're wondering what my deal with updates lately has been. I don't want to burden another chapter with an Author's note describing my suckitude, so I'll put it over there. *hangs head in shame*

I love you all. You're the best reviewers a girl could ever ask for—thank you.

xx Nina

Tease for next time? Marvel and Cato bromance it up.