A/N: Another story! Crazy, right? This one is co-written by Hop3less R0mant1c! Enjoy and review!
Three weeks earlier...
Cato glared at his elder brother before running a hand on his wet face. Alex grinned mischievously and backed away slowly, another red water balloon in his other hand. Cato grabbed an apple from the fruit tray and threw it at Alex catching him unaware. It hit him on the shoulder. Alex's mouth dropped open in shock as Cato smirked in satisfaction. "That'll teach you to mess with me." He said and turned away, getting ready to walk to his room so he could change into a dry shirt.
Alex took his chances and launched the water balloon. It hit Cato on the back of his head. He froze as cold water dripped down his back. Whirling around, Cato narrowed his eyes. "You. Are. Dead." He growled.
Alex gulped and turned on his heels, making a run for it. His younger brother was right behind him and the two brothers ran around the house, knocking into tables and tripping over sofas. Alex had just turned the corner into the long hall when his foot hit the leg of a table. A blue vase fell crashing to the floor and Alex winced, jumping back a bit. Cato crashed into him and was just about to throttle him when Alex pushed his hands away. "Idiot! Can't you see I have bigger problems?" He hissed.
Cato blinked at the broken vase and then started laughing. "Oh you are so dead! That's Dad's favorite vase!"
Alex rolled his eyes. "And you, dear brother, are going to help me clean that up."
Cato shook his head with an amused smile. "No way! You dropped it, you clean it up."
Alex jumped on Cato, wrestling him to the ground. Cato grinned and shook his head again. "You just never learn do you?" He said as Alex smirked.
Alex watched the silver train stop in front of him and Cato step out of it. He tried to smile at him, wanting him to know that deep down he was proud of his baby brother. But he couldn't. Not after seeing the dark circles under Cato's eyes and the sad, faraway look on his face. Alex stepped forward and put an arm around Cato. He slumped against his elder brother slightly and Alex knew he was relieved. Maneuvering them through the crowd, Alex wouldn't let anyone near Cato. He had 'protective' mode on and he glared at whoever tried to talk to the recently crowned blonde Victor. All the way to the house there were non stop cameras and shouts of praise which were ignored by both brothers. Once inside the safety of the house Cato's mother rushed forward. She embraced her son, who wrapped his arms around her silently. He held her like it was just another task in his new life. When she pulled back she placed a kiss on each cheek and beamed at her youngest child.
"Oh Cato dear, just think of all the publicity we'll get! This is a new beginning of fame for our family name!" She exclaimed and grabbed her husband's arm, making him look up from the files he was reading and smile at Cato. Alex only stood there, looking at his parents in disbelief. How could they be so blind? Couldn't they tell that Cato did not want to be thinking about fame right now?
"You got a bunch of letters from Melody!" Alex exclaimed suddenly, thinking of any way possible to get Cato away from everyone. Cato looked at him and nodded before heading up the stairs. Alex gave his mother a short hug and walked after him. Cato sat on his bed and looked at the pile of letters stacked on his desk. How many of them did she write? How many of them declared her so-called 'love' for him?
"That girl needs help." Alex joked.
At the moment he would do anything to see Cato's old smile. Somewhere deep inside Alex knew his brother would never be the same after what he had experienced. Alex had watched every minute of it. He had watched Cato fight for the right of Victor on top of that cornucopia. In the end he knew District twelve didn't stand a chance. It was like watching two bees. They could sting Cato, but in the end nothing had effect and with their stingers went their lives.
"You haven't changed."
It surprised Alex to hear his brother's voice and he saw that Cato winced in surprise at how he sounded. Cato turned away when he saw Alex looking at him with wide eyes. A while later he felt two strong arms wrap around him. Alex pulled his younger brother closer and tucked his head under his chin. "It'll be okay. I'll be here with you through it all." He whispered.
Alex felt Cato nod slightly against his chest as his arms went around his waist too. "Promise me." He said.
"I promise." Alex answered instantly.
They held each other for a long time until Alex felt Cato's head fall on his shoulder. He looked down and smiled when he saw that he had fallen asleep. Alex shifted slightly and placed Cato's head gently on the pillow. He pulled the blanket up, covering Cato in a soft blue. Finally he turned off the lights and closed the door as he walked into the hall. Indigo was waiting by the stairs with her arms crossed and a serious expression on her face. "How is he?" She asked when she saw Alex.
Alex let out a sigh. "I have never seen him like this before. He's completely changed."
Indigo nodded. "Keep him away from Enobaria." She said and Alex nodded in agreement.
Alex ran a hand through his hair. "Definitely. I don't trust Brutus either."
Indigo shook her head. "We can't do anything about that asshole."
The two of them stood silently for a while before Alex sighed again. "He's changed so much." He whispered with a sorrowful tone.
Indigo gave her younger brother a stern look. "Don't let him out of your sight. And don't let him anywhere near the Academy or Melody." She paused before adding, "Or the reruns of the Games."
Alex took a deep breath. "Sure." He answered.
Indigo nodded once before turning away. Alex watched her walk up the stairs and into her room. He glanced one more time at the closed-door of Cato's room and made his way out the front door.
Four days later...
Cato's health was getting worse. He had two bruises on the side of his neck which he had gotten when he had fallen over a chair. He could hardly see properly anymore because he was so weak now. The circles under his eyes hadn't improved and a long scratch ran down from the top of Cato's right cheek to the bottom. He had earned that from his mother after he had told her that he was tired of all the parties she was forcing him to go to. She hadn't listened, of course, and instead she had slapped him while yelling, "You will go whether you like it or not!"
Cato didn't argue anymore. He simply drifted through his day silently.
It was a bright Thursday morning when Brutus called Cato over to his house because he had to discuss something very 'important'. Cato walked over to the Victor's house in simple blue jeans and a navy blue shirt. He rang the doorbell and waited silently for someone to open the door. A while later, Brutus flung it open and ushered Cato inside with his signature scowl. "Hurry up, boy." He growled.
Cato walked into the house and followed Brutus into the living room. Brutus pushed Cato down onto the sofa and plopped down next to him. "Why haven't you come to the Academy?" He asked while glaring at the younger Victor.
"I didn't feel like it." Cato replied.
"I don't give a shit! You know that Victors have got to go to the Academy to teach the younger students!" Brutus yelled.
Cato winced at the sharpness in Brutus's tone and didn't say anything.
"Boy, you toughen up or else I'll make you." Brutus leaned back on the sofa.
Cato looked out the window. "I need water." He said.
Brutus shrugged. "Go get it."
Cato stood up and walked to the kitchen. The format of the house was the same as his new house's was. He grabbed a glass and took the jug out of the fridge. He was just about to pour it in when he heard footsteps. Cato turned around and froze. Standing in front of him was a girl with long dark brown hair and the bluest eyes he'd ever seen. Her hair had strands of red running between the brown and she wore white jeans with a red shirt. She saw Cato looking at her and she offered him a small smile. "You must be Cato." She said and Cato was surprised at how... gentle she sounded. It had been a while since he had heard that tone of voice from someone other than Alex or his eldest sisters, Indigo and Pastel.
"Uh, yeah, I'm Cato. And you are?" He asked, the jug of water forgotten. It seemed he had also forgotten his misery and despair for the moment.
"Mint Emma Silver." She answered, her smile widening slightly.
Cato frowned. What was a girl doing in Brutus's house? Was she his daughter? "Do you live here?" He asked. "With Brutus?" His voice sounded disbelieving.
Mint nodded. "I'm his niece." Her smile slowly faded and her eyes turned blank. "No one really knows about me. Uncle Brutus doesn't like me."
Cato didn't know what to say. The atmosphere had completely changed with those words. Finally, Mint looked at him and he nearly smiled when he saw the twinkle back in her eyes. "You know, you should get some ointment on that cut. It could get infected."
Cato reached up and touched the bottom of the cut. He winced slightly when his finger hit it and his hand fell back at his side. Mint tilted her head before taking a few steps back. "Wait right here, I'll bring you some." She said and ran out of the kitchen. She returned a while later with a tube of white and green ointment in her hands. Mint pulled off the cap and squeezed some onto her finger. Cato watched her bottom lip stick out a bit as she concentrated on putting the ointment on. He instantly felt better when she had applied it on the cut.
"Thanks." Cato said when Mint was done. She beamed at him.
"Your welcome!" Mint exclaimed. "You can come to me whenever you're sick or something. I'm a healer."
Just then, Brutus walked into the kitchen. His eyes narrowed when he saw Mint and the ointment in her hands.
"And what, exactly, are you doing out of your room?" Brutus growled, grabbing ahold of Mint's arm.
Mint winced and looked down. "I-I was-" She began.
"How many fucking times do I have to tell you to never step out of that room?!" Brutus yelled.
Brutus glanced at Cato once before yanking Mint out of the kitchen. Her sorrowful eyes met his one last time before she looked away. Cato stood alone, Mint's sad glance replaying in his mind. He looked at the enterance of the kitchen hoping Mint would come running through. But she didn't, and all he had left to remind him of her was the gentle warmth still on his cut.