A/N: Yeah, I know it's been a while so I hope this isn't too rusty. Let me know what you think!
Warning: There are several sex scenes in this chapter. Don't like, don't read!
It had been weeks since the library incident, and Cato was still flustered.
Almost no progress at all had been made with Laurel; in fact, she almost seemed to disappear right before his eyes. She wasn't often at lunch with Thalia, her nose deep in a book. Several times he had been at the library, but she wasn't there, either. The only time he did see her was during class, an ever-present look of calculation on her face.
Pissed at himself for probably ruining his chances, he decided to try and forget about that lean fox. That is, until one day during their Hand-to-Hand Combat class.
For the most part, this class was all about the techniques and logic behind bare-hand fighting. A lot of practice was done on dummies, and sometimes as a treat, the instructor would bring in Capitol mutations called Combigerents. Tough to look at, these monsters were bald, hairless brutes that only had two modes: fight and rest.
This day, however, was different. The 73rd Hunger Games were approaching fast, and the instructor wanted to see how the students could fend amongst themselves. A bracket system was formed.
This "competition" took days, and there was no gender discrimination. Men were put up against women, and it was often hard to watch. A lot of the females at the academy were much more adept at weapon-on-weapon combat, so most of them were out of the rankings within the first three or four rounds.
Laurel and Clove were the only two females left when the semi-finals rolled around. And that meant that Cato would fight both of them.
He was, admittedly, slightly surprised to see Clove get so far. But she was cunning and fast, and her small frame made it hard for the brutes of District 2 to grab her. And she was well informed: pressure points and weak spots on the body were easy for her to access. She even sent one guy to the infirmary.
But Cato knew her too well. He had her pinned and squirming after the first two minutes. His mouth almost watered at the prospect of what was to come next.
Laurel stood in front of him with no ounce of fear in her eyes. Every angle of her face was pointed and prepared for battle. He did not smirk at her, or even throw her a wink. She had pissed him off, and he was not about to go easy on her.
They stepped towards each other to shake hands.
"Ready for this, babe?" he whispered in her ear. Her response was a slight eyebrow raise, as if to say, "Bring it on".
The round started, and within the first thirty seconds he had her in a chokehold; one arm was around her neck and the other around her slim torso. He almost smiled, knowing exactly what he would do next: throw himself backwards on the floor, roll her over and pin her arms down. The end.
But as he calculated in his head, he felt the tendons in her neck tense as she bent her head forward and threw it backwards, colliding into his nose.
"Augh!" he shouted, wiping the blood that trickled out. He angrily lunged for her, his hands grasping for her midsection to send her down, but she grabbed one of his bulky arms and twisted as hard as she could. Cato yanked his arm away and reeled back for a punch.
The bell signaling that the class was over startled both of the combatants. The teacher stepped in between the two.
"All right, all right, that's enough for today. Good work everyone," he said loudly. "See you all on Monday."
The class gathered their things and filed out of the room quietly. Cato and Laurel stood there panting, staring daggers at each other. Cato deftly stepped forward.
"This isn't over," he sharply whispered. Laurel cocked her eyebrow again, not saying a word. The teacher stared over his shoulder at the two as he advanced towards the door, his belongings toppling over his bulky arms.
"Come on, you two, let's get the lead out," he said exasperatedly. Cato and Laurel simultaneously grabbed their things and headed for the door. Once outside the room, the teacher walked in the opposite direction.
"Room is still open," Cato observed, looking back at the classroom. It hadn't been locked. "Let's go again."
"Are you sure you want to get your ass handed to you?" Laurel questioned with a maniacal glint in her eyes. Cato couldn't help but notice how much she looked like her sister Clove at that moment. He licked his lips. "I guess it won't be as embarrassing without your classmates watching."
"Whatever," he said, grabbing her arm and pulling her back into the room. As soon as they stepped inside, their things were thrown down and he lunged at her, pinning her to the ground.
"Not fair," she said through her teeth as she struggled beneath him. "I wasn't ready."
"No such thing as fairness in the Games," he responded with a mischievous smirk. With a grunt, she flipped him over, her ponytail dangling in his face. And without warning, she gave him a firm slap on the face.
"I guess your right," she whispered. "But I think that was definitely fair."
Cato couldn't contain himself any longer as he watched her straddling him. He thrust upward, rolling her over once more and planted his lips on hers forcefully. A muffled sound came from her lips as she struggled to pull away, but he did not let up.
She flailed fruitlessly, so he grasped her arms with one hand and pinned them above her head. He pulled away and looked at her carefully, studying her frown and furrowed eyebrows.
"What the fuck?" she yelled, but he didn't let go. Instead, he leaned down again and kissed her, his free hand holding her shoulder down. After a second, she stopped struggling and kissed him back with vigor.
Her tongue slipped between his lips carelessly and he took the weight off of her shoulder to slip his fingers through her hair. She moaned lightly as he lowered his mouth, nipping and kissing her neck. The grip on her arms slackened, causing her to wrap them around his strapping back and dig her fingernails into his shirt.
Just ten minutes later, they were both on their backs, naked and panting.
Clove couldn't contain her anger.
Hand-to-Hand Combat was one of her favorite classes. She knew she was skilled at almost every other form of combat, but she couldn't scrap to save her life. She knew that if she passed this course, she was sure to soar to the top of her class.
So she worked hard and fought harder. The teacher had nothing but praise for her, being one of the best female fighters in the class, besides Laurel. But that only fueled her raging fire.
Today's class was different, though. Fighting Cato was one of the most pleasurable moments she had ever experienced. His sweating body pinning her down, the look of pure malice in his face…. she squirmed at the thought of it. Sure, they had fought each other in Weapons class countless times, but this was different.
She couldn't forget the feel of his rough hands grabbing her tiny midsection, throwing her to the ground vigorously. An unfamiliar feeling shot up from her toes through her whole body that leaving her tingling and writhing on the floor. That's probably why her performance was so poor. She mentally kicked herself as she left the class that day, heading for the cafeteria to eat dinner. He was the only thing that could get her mind off the Games.
And she wasn't sure if that was a good thing.
After a few moments of eating, she realized that there were two people who had not joined the rest of the student body at the cafeteria. Laurel and Cato.
Millions of scenarios ran through her head, and all of them were bad. She chucked the remainder of her sandwich into the garbage and stomped towards the hallway, her fists curled tightly at her side. Originally, her dormitory was her destination, but her eye caught the door of their Combat classroom, which was just slightly ajar. Curiously, she stepped forward, peeking her head through the window.
Through the window she saw Cato's bare ass, pumping in and out of her insufferable sister. Clove bit down hard on her lip, resisting the urge to run into the room and beat the shit out of Laurel.
But she couldn't step away from the window. In one swift move, Cato rolled Laurel over so she could bounce on top of him, but Clove blocked her out. All she could see was the look on Cato's face as her sister pleasured him. His eyes were blissfully closed and the always-present smirk on his face was gone, replaced with a look of pure ecstasy.
In moments, his mouth opened into an endless "O" as he grabbed Laurel's hips and bucked a few times before he was limp, arms surrendered at his sides. Clove turned away and ran towards the dormitories, tears filling her eyes. She was left with a strange feeling of resentment and heated desire as she crawled into her bed and flopped to her side.
She couldn't wait for that bitch to die.
Things were different after that day. All focus and determination was gone during the weeks of the upcoming Games. His eyes often glazed over at lunch while his cronies laughed and threw rolls of bread at each other. The dinner table was almost always void of his presence.
Now, at the Training Center in the Capitol, Cato was nothing but determined. He threw himself into every challenge they handed to him, always leaving the Center dripping with sweat and blood. He had been like this ever since Laurel was murdered in the 73rd Hunger Games. No tribute, no Capitol mutation, and no challenge would stop him from winning.
Except Clove. It wasn't until after the Training days were over that she noticed he would become vulnerable. It was like the second they left the other tributes, his switch turned off and he became a shell. When the feasts were over and they retreated to their rooms, that aching look that Clove had only seen when Laurel was alive was directed at her.
She was the spinning image of her sister, in Cato's eyes. Those pointed features, the freckles that dotted her cheeks, and her almond-brown eyes… it was like he was looking at Laurel all over again.
"What is your problem?" Clove asked one night after the rest of their training staff had retreated to their rooms. Cato was spooning at a bowl of melted ice cream, swirling the contents around to make a cold soup.
"What problem?" Cato asked, his voice harsh. Clove shrugged.
"You woke up screaming and bloody this morning. You've been acting weird since we got here," she said under her breath. He dropped his spoon with a clang.
"No, I haven't," he shot through his teeth.
"No need to get defensive," Clove retorted with her hands up. "I just don't want you to pussy out when it really counts." She laughed to herself.
"I'm fine," he spat loudly. Clove rolled her eyes.
"I'm just saying… just because you're a good fighter doesn't mean shit when it comes down to it-"
"I said I'm fine!" he bellowed, slamming his fists on the table. He looked up at Clove, panting slightly and fighting the urge to scream when he looked into her almond eyes. "Fuck you!"
"What the hell did I do?" she shouted back, standing forcefully. He mirrored her actions, his legs wobbling slightly under his weight. His mind brought him back to the night terrors he had the night before and images of Laurel's dangling eyes danced before him.
"Just leave me alone," he said slightly quieter as he stepped away from the table, wiping the crumbs off of his pants.
But she wasn't about to go without a fight. She swiftly stepped in front of him, looking into his pained eyes. "What is your fucking problem? "
"I said leave me alone!" He shoved her forcefully, causing her to careen backwards into a glass coffee table. Her sudden weight caused the table to collapse and shards of glass pricked at her arms and back. "Fuck!" she screamed.
"Oh, shit," he breathed, running over to Clove. She tried not to move as he deftly scooped her up and carried her to his bathroom, attempting to avoid the training staff who had surely heard the racket.
"What was that for?" she shouted, her voice cutting off at the end as she felt a small shard of glass in her back. He placed her on the ground and kneeled closely next to her, examining her back. "Get it out!"
"Where is it? I don't see it!" he said frantically. They both panted as she unzipped the front of her jumpsuit and wriggled it off of her chest, not at all abashed to be sitting on the bathroom floor in her bra.
"It's on the right, below the rib – Ow!" she screeched as he touched the tip of the glass with his finger.
"Fuck, sorry. I've got it," he said, a softness suddenly creeping into his voice. He pinched the glass with the tips of his fingers. "It's not that deep. It'll be fine in a few days."
"Just pull it out already," she shot through her teeth.
"Okay. 3… 2… 1…"
"Fuck!" she shouted as blood dripped down her back. Cato pressed his hand on her back to stop the bleeding as he rolled a wad of toilet paper onto his other hand. "What in the world is your problem…" she muttered under her breath as he pressed the soft tissue on her wound.
Her anger dissipated very suddenly when she felt his breath on her neck. Had he been that close to her the whole time? The pain felt second to what she was feeling now, a feeling that was definitely not new to her. She turned to him, pushing her hair out of her eyes.
"I'm sorry," he whispered. He was lost in the hurt look in her eyes, mesmerized by the resemblance to her sister's. He shoved the thoughts of his nightmare into the back of his mind as he stared hungrily, licking his lips.
"I should rinse this off," she replied, but his hand did not leave the small of her back. Instead, he pressed harder and she winced. Clove's freckles danced before his eyes.
He couldn't control himself. His mouth found her neck and he nipped hungrily at her skin. She gasped, not wanting to move away but unsure of what to do. She had never been with a boy before, especially one as attractive as Cato. So she softened her body a little as he explored her neck, before his blood-caked hand reached for her face and turned it towards him.
"I'm sorry," he mouthed silently. She looked at him intently, unsure of what to make of his hungry expression. But this was no time to analyze him. This time, it was her that leaned forward and kissed him, and he responded instantly. His fingers shakily found the zipper on her midsection and yanked it down all the way, exposing her bony body. His hands were on her in seconds, cupping her small breasts through her bra.
I'm sorry, he recited over and over again in his mind. I'm so sorry. But his silent apologies were no longer meant for Clove.
Unaware of his inner turmoil, Clove reached towards his jumpsuit to unzip it, ignoring the ruby fingernail scabs he had on his chest from this morning. She stared ravenously at his physique; she had seen him shirtless so many times, but never in this context.
In one move, he yanked her on top of him, not caring that the blood from her back had dripped onto the side of his broad chest. No, all he cared about was fucking her senseless. He grabbed her panties, meaning to push them to the side but instead ripping them right off of her body and her eyes widened in shock.
Just as he was about to enter her, she put her hand on his blood-dotted chest. "Wait," she said quietly.
"What?" he responded, an unforgiving tone rushing into his voice.
"Sorry, I've just… never…"
"Just look at me," Cato whispered; his eyes pierced hers. "It'll be fine."
He entered her slowly and moved his hips up and down, never breaking eye contact with her. Even as he reached his climax, he stared into those beautiful brown eyes and thought of Laurel as they moved together. Her skinny body collapsed on top of him, smiling broadly.
I'm sorry, he recited silently, over and over again. I'm so sorry.