A/N: This is going to be a chapter fic, but a pretty short one. It's Cato and Clove's perspective of the 74th Hunger Games, as well as some history before they enter the arena. Rated M for language, sex and violence. Hope you enjoy!
Cato was dead long before the Games.
It wasn't until it was too late that he figured this out, though; his demise. His day was filled with menial distractions and his sleep was restless with nightmares, terrible visions, but he chalked this up to be nothing. Cato knew better than to show this restiveness; he was from District 2, after all. Self-importance ran thick through his veins. He trained vigorously at the academy and could always feel more than a pinch of enjoyment in the midst of battle, wielding a sword. Everyone in his class knew not to fuck with Cato, and he wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
The day he volunteered was a good day. He felt an immense sense of satisfaction swell inside his chest as he stepped out of the District 2 mass, his large voice carrying through the entire plaza smoothly, boldly. It was easy for him to demand attention, even in silence.
"I volunteer as tribute."
He caught sight of his family as he stood on stage, measured the pride in their eyes. It felt good. His father gave him a slight, approving nod; he had never been one to show much emotion, not unless it was anger or frustration. He himself had been a victor in the 49th Hunger Games; he was only fifteen years old.
Cato believed he was the spitting image of his father. Broad, hulking shoulders and striking blonde hair, although he did have a softer, eye-catching face (thanks to his mother). It was no secret that he hoped to leave an impact in the 74th Hunger Games just as his father had in his time. Brutus the Bloodthirsty, Alto Honeyman (the host of the Hunger Games at the time) had jokingly called him back then during his interview after hearing about a scuffle with another tribute.
After he won the Games, the name stuck.
Cato's mother, of course, she was crying. She cried over most things, happy or sad or angry. His older brother only gave him a simple smirk, one that was almost taunting… it spoke to him, it said, "Let's see what you can do." Cato returned the look with ease.
He snapped out of his trance when a small but determined voice broke through the crowd. Clove, a girl he knew well. She practically shadowed him at the academy, carefully watching his form and fighting stance without saying a word or asking a question. For a while, he was a little irked that she constantly followed him in silence. Not even an introduction. But after a while, she joined his usual lunch crew, talking to the lot as if she had known them all for years.
She was different and a little off, but after that day, the two of them just worked. It was no surprise that they graduated top of their class. The energy he exuded motivated Clove, and her sheer insatiability provoked Cato's inner monster to emerge. They were believed to be the best Career duo thus far, according to the bets from the Capitol. More money had been placed on those two tributes than any other pair in history, and that alone gave Clove a new skip in her step, her smile wide and malicious.
Most people would probably describe Clove as insane, but Cato preferred the word… driven.
She smiled that wide smile as she bound up the steps to the front of the stage. A roar of applause broke out for the two of them, and again Cato felt a quiver in his chest that signified honor. Honor for his District. He knew he would make them proud, the whole lot of them.
But something else surfaced within him, something that he knew would come up eventually during this experience. It had been exactly a year ago, when Laurel was reaped.
Laurel Ivory. He would always remember her by the way her name tumbled off his tongue. Voice loud, eyes bright… all of Panem couldn't help but fall in love with her.
Cato had began to notice her when she was, well, not noticing him. He was puzzled by this; the girls at the academy were well known for their weakness for the tall blonde boy. He couldn't even count on his fingers and toes how many of them he had fucked.
Ever since he sprouted upward ten inches and gained malevolent prowess wielding a sword, people noticed him. Women younger than him, women older than him, teachers, trainers, mentors, anybody with a libido. The power he had over them was satisfying; he could always count on somebody in his bed after a hard day's work, no matter the day. His confident smirk could cause every girl at the academy to tremble internally. Well, not every girl.
Laurel was a tall brunette with a pointed, angular face that looked almost devilish, if it weren't for the freckles dotting her cheeks and nose. Not only was her face absolutely striking, but her lean body was sharp with tone and definition. Unlike most people of District 2, who donned blue eyes, Laurel's were light brown, almond-shaped, and piercing. You could tell she was intelligent by one simple glance at her face, always calculating, never at rest.
But those beautiful brown eyes never found Cato. Not when he was fighting, or joking with his friends at lunch, or even in the hallways, when he shot his sexiest grin in her direction.
"What's up with that girl?" Cato asked a pal, Strovus, at lunch one day at the beginning of the year. Strovus, a big, dumb oaf probably twice the size of Cato, furrowed his brow and shook his head.
"That one. The brunette, freckles. Sitting next to Thalia."
Strovus looked from Cato, to Laurel, and back to Cato. His expression was all but thoughtful. "I don't see anything, is there something wrong with her?"
"No," Cato replied in exasperation, staring down at his lunch. "She's the only bitch in this place that won't talk to me… you think she's a dyke?"
Strovus agreed with almost everything Cato said. Cato couldn't tell if he was afraid to disagree, or if he formulated his opinions based off everybody else's simply because he was too dumb to have his own. He didn't really care. Strovus was a monster of a man but he was no good fight, not even worth a show. Cato could finish him with his bare hands.
He looked back up at the two girls. Laurel was staring down at a book as her blonde friend Thalia poked her shoulder, whispering something frantically. He had recently realized that the two girls were very close, despite their obvious personality differences.
Thalia looked up at Cato, threw him a wink and a small wave. He waved back with a small smirk, which clearly caused her to perk up immediately.
The poor girl probably thought he was looking at her.
"I'm going to investigate," he told Strovus, who grunted in response but stayed put.
Cato swaggered over to their table, making sure to turn his game face on. This shouldn't be too hard, he thought to himself.
"Hello ladies," he greeted them fondly, planting his feet right next to their table.
"Hey, Cato," Thalia purred, cocking her head to the side a little bit. Her friend did not stir. A little flustered, Cato took a seat down at the table, intentionally bumping her foot with his. Laurel moved her foot slightly backwards but did not make a sound.
"That was really great what you did today in Defense," Thalia crooned, snapping him out of his trance. She was a good-looking girl, but nowhere close to her silent friend sitting next to her. Cato raised an eyebrow at her.
"You think?" he asked her. He was never one to be modest, but he noticed recently that playing coy often drove the girls crazy.
"Oh yeah," Thalia responded, enthused. "The way you used that tiny knife to block an axe? You're insane."
He smiled a little bit at this. Goodbye modesty. "Well, you know, it really doesn't take much effort. You see, I just –"
"Could you two take this conversation elsewhere?" came a smooth voice. Laurel hadn't moved an inch, and if Thalia hadn't glanced at her friend with a look of bewilderment, Cato thought he had imagined her question. "You're ruining my concentration."
Thalia rolled her eyes at Laurel, but looked back at Cato almost immediately. At this point, he was too agitated to give her any more attention.
"Someone's got a little something stuck up their ass," he muttered as he forcefully stood from the table (causing his chair to topple over) and walked away. He could hear Thalia reprimanding Laurel as he left the cafeteria and headed for the only place he found solace, the practice rooms. He would find some way to get revenge.
And that revenge came in the form of Thalia, naked in his bed that very night.
Clove had always been considered a little off.
She didn't like to talk much, just observe. It wasn't that she didn't have a way with words (she certainly did), but silence could be just as powerful as speech, according to her. She knew it'd be tough to make friends at the academy with a personality like this. But then she met Cato.
Clove knew she would have a certain fascination with Cato when she witnessed him kill. Of course, he didn't know she had been there, lurking behind that building. She had felt a certain giddiness rise inside of her when his sword sliced through the throat of a Lower, one who had taunted Cato for his masculine physique and cocky gait. He clearly had no idea that Cato kept his weapon on him at all times.
Lowers were the scum of District 2. They were the kids who refused to go to academy, and instead worked alongside their good-for-nothing parents, who also had not participated in the Games. If it weren't for the mass of children graduating from the academy who volunteered for their sorry asses, District 2 would be the laughing stock of the Hunger Games. Worse than 11 and 12. Clove shuddered at the thought.
Ever since she witnessed him in that little alleyway, something sparked inside her that was nothing short of an obsession. Her mind was constantly preoccupied by that image in her head, the sick, twisted smile that covered Cato's face when he ended that Lower's life. He wasn't like the boys at the academy, who talked the talk but couldn't kill worth shit, until they were thrust into the arena.
Cato was a hot-blooded, egotistical alpha male, and Clove couldn't get enough of him.
She observed Cato during class, silently, knowing that one day she would certainly make him a friend. It was hard saying 'no' to Clove, and many people knew this. She had certain sweetness about her, that sweetness could easily cover her inner malevolence. Although most kids thought her to be insane, it was still easy to befriend them after a few conversations.
Probably because they were a little frightened of her.
So when she began to spend every lunch with Cato, it was safe to say that her mood improved greatly. He liked her wickedness and she admired his strength, and the two quickly soared to the top of the academy together.
Without that little bitch, Laurel.
Laurel Ivory, the love of Cato's life, that stupid twig of a girl who was too intelligent for her own good. Always reading her stupid books, never actually doing anything about her physical strength or swiftness. She was Clove's sister, older by a year.
"What do you see in her, anyway?" Clove asked Cato one day as they sat on the quad, watching two smaller boys spar (rather badly). He shrugged, flicking a rock between his deft fingers. Clove continued, "She's such a bitch."
"She's… different," was all Cato could say. He never divulged much information about her to her little sister. But to Clove, she was certainly not different by any means. Laurel was that girl who knew she was hot shit, and pretended like no boy in the universe could ever be attractive to her. She had a stick so far up her ass, Clove was surprised no one could see it when she opened her mouth. She walked around the academy in her skimpy uniform (which she ordered a size too small), cocked her head up high and laughed about menial bullshit with her equally annoying friend, Thalia.
Growing up with Laurel had been an unimaginable hell.
Clove strived for perfection. For complete accuracy, 100% of the time. That's why she liked knives. They were so tiny, seemingly useless, but one flick of the wrist could end a life, if it was precise. And for Clove, there was no such thing as inaccuracy.
But her parents always found a way to praise Laurel, even if she was doing nothing but sitting on her ass and reading. Physically, she had an advantage of Clove. She was tall, and had extreme muscles in her upper arms (how she acquired these was a mystery to her little sister). Clove knew it took more than the physical stuff to win the Games; it took guts, too. And her silly older sister had none of those.
"You're going to make us so proud," her parents are crooned over Laurel the day she volunteered. There was no doubt in there minds that she would emerge victorious, bloodied and proud.
No such words ever found their way to Clove's ears. No, she was the runt of the family; nothing good could come of her in any way, shape or form. They didn't even know she was top of her class at the academy, and they had no idea she was going to volunteer for the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
"It's probably just tough love," Cato would tell her simply, as if he knew all about her life just because he was fucking Clove's sister. Clove shoved him, spitting in his face.
"You know nothing about my family," she whispered violently. "Go fuck yourself."
But Cato was used to these sorts of reactions. Clove had a hot head on her shoulders. Other than sadistic glee and anger, she didn't show much of anything else, not even sadness.
She didn't shed a tear when Laurel was brutally murdered in the 73rd Hunger Games.
A/N: Let me know what you thought!