Warnings: Heavy gore, cannibalism, and under-aged drinking
She slowed to a tired walk before stopping completely, finding her feet unwilling to leave the ground. She turned to face the direction from which she had come. There was no sign of either of the boys. She hoped it was Peeta, with his superior strength and whatever skill had earned him a place with the careers, that had come out of the battle. Things being as they were, however, this was unlikely. She didn't wait to watch for the hovercraft. She just wanted to get out of there. She wanted to run until she reached the edge of the arena and then keep running until she reached somewhere better. Somewhere far away from the Capitol and Panem.
Places like that existed. The old concrete building by the lake in the woods told her so.
"There are buildings like this all over the countryside outside of the districts." Gale had told her. Some tribes lived in them - they built entire towns around their shells.Entire cities away from Panem. Gale had tried to convince her to run off with him to find one. They could start a life there where they could be safe and happy and once they were settled they could come back and get their families. But the thought that Prim might be reaped without Katniss there to protect her was too much for the girl to bear so she shot the idea down.
Now she wished she hadn't.
Foxface sat in the clearing before her, arms propped up on her knees as she drew patterns in the dirt with a stick.
"Sit down." The girl ordered without looking up.
Katniss looked around. To her, the ground that wasn't muddy and dangerous looking was covered in a slimy green mold. Foxface scoffed before rising up to stand in front of her. She shoved Katniss unceremoniously to the ground which she found to be just as solid as ever. Katniss pulled the combat knife from her belt, but it was wrenched from her hands by an unseen force.
"Don't be stupid. You know you wouldn't stand a chance against me, even in a fair fight." She emphasized the 'fair' by spiriting the knife to rest in her palm. "You're very important to him. He'll come for you, we just have to wait."
"Who?" Katniss furrowed her brow.
Foxface looked at her like she was stupid before noticing the welts on her neck and hands.
"That District 2 oaf. Now just lay back and stare at the sky or whatever until that stuff wears off." She kicked Katniss onto her back and held her foot there as she struggled to sit back up. She stopped struggling eventually, finding the cool ground felt nice on her heated skin. She watched as the red head started a fire, building it big so as to best attract Cato's attention. The girl tended to the fire for quite sometime and Katniss watched, transfixed, as the flames grew and twisted. The soft tendrils melted the leaves of the branches that fueled it.
She could have stared at it for ages had she not felt another figure looming over her. He had earned sponsorship since he killed Peeta. There was a tacky, white substance smeared onto what was once, undoubtedly, a serious gash on his torso as well as on his arm and face. The wounds, now, were nothing but smatterings of blood. His jacket was missing, as was his belt, and several fastenings on his pants and boots. Whether this was intentional or a product of his horrid hallucinations, she wasn't sure.
"Hold this." He dropped his sword to her, never taking his eyes of Foxface. In one hand, he held an unusual looking blade and had a thin length of nylon rope wrapped around the other. Katniss' knife came flying at him so fast she didn't even notice it until he dodged it.
"One wouldn't think this fight would be too easy in your -" The girl's taunt was cut short by Cato's large fist barely grazing her face. She nearly fell off balance as she leapt out of the way of the knife he then swung at her. A displeased smirk crossed her face.
"No metal." She sneered, disappointed.
"Nope." Cato lashed out at her again, nearly catching her neck with the rope but she managed a hard elbow to his ribs and escaped his grasp. She had a smaller sword than Katniss remembered her leaving the cornucopia with but it still left blood oozing from the wound it inflicted on the career's arm.
He growled, slashing at the redhead. He managed to knick her, just barely, but his movements were more clumsy than they had been during the bloodbath. The tracker jacker venom was wreaking havoc on his motor skills.
Their dancing around one another was making Katniss ill. She rolled to position herself on her hands and knees and her stomach tried to empty itself but nothing came up. She saw Foxface stumble out of the corner of her eye. She wobbled on her feet, breathing heavily - rage evident on her face.
"Oh, fuck you." She spat. Now Cato was the one smirking. He lunged at her again, dropping to the ground and knocking her feet out from under her. She landed hard on her back and he crawled on top of her. They tussled - clawing and gnashing like beasts. Her sword fell from her hand and he cried out when it sliced through his side. She gripped the wrist of his knife hand, but he managed to dig the blade into her shoulder. After he did so he leapt off of her.
He stood over her taunting. "That's going to kill you." He said in a breathless sing songy voice. He waved the knife in front of Erin's face. "Nightlock." He stole my idea. The girl struggled to get back to her feet, only to collapse back to the ground.
"He doesn't deserve to be head of the Pantheon." She groaned. "An opportunistic vulture. The only thing he's good at is cheating." She panted, grabbing her sword and trying to stand once more. "You're weak. You and him are both weak."
"And you're almost dead." He kicked her hard in the ribs and Katniss winced at the sickening crunch.
The boy lowered himself slowly to the ground near Katniss. She could now see the damage Foxface had done. His face was bruised and bloody, the girl had reopened the gash on his abdomen and the muscles now twitched miserably around the wound. He lay himself on his back, arms holding most of his weight until he could just drop himself the rest of the way. She heard him hiss as his back collided with the ground. He twisted to relieve the pressure off some unseen injury to his shoulder blade.
Foxface took a few shuddering breaths before going still. A cannon sounded.
"What's?" He wheezed. Did I say something? Katniss watched as his brow furrowed in confusion. "But that's - that's - no. That's too fucked up." He struggled to turn on his side. "I can't."
Katniss wondered what sort of tricks the venom was playing on his mind. She wondered what phantom he was talking to.
He whimpered and rose to his knees, removing his shirt. The smell of burnt flesh hit her nostrils and had her retching again when he pulled the shirt over his head. His scars were an angry red, some parts weeping from where the skin had peeled off on his clothing - they seemed to writhe on his skin like worms. She cringed as they blistered and bubbled and she half hoped their behavior was just a part of her delirium, but the vile stench coming off of him told her otherwise.
"I mean I'm physically - I'm physically," He growled in frustration. "I'm physically not able to do it."
Marcus. Katniss realized. He must be talking to his Lord. And he was being punished. He crawled over Erin once more, fishing a combat knife out of her pockets. The blood from his torso stained his pants and dripped onto the corpse below him. He looked back at Katniss then over to the fire.
"You're not understanding…" He sighed and shook his head, running his hands through his hair. He pushed the dead girl's shirt up past her ribs, grunting when the pain in his scars overwhelmed him again. He gritted his teeth and dug the knife in just below the girl's ribs, cutting from sternum until the knife hit the ground on her left side. He buried his hand in the hole, digging up under her rib cage for something.
Katniss started inching away - completely forgetting the sword he had left her with - her mouth and eyes opening wide as blood and fluid and organs sloshed from the wound.
"Come down here and stop me." He grinned at nothing.
She grabbed her bow and stood to back away - she ran when he pulled out the girls heart and took a bite.
It took several days for the hallucinations to stop completely but she still felt the effects of the venom in her system. She was jumpy and often woke up screaming - heart pounding - at nightmares she couldn't recall. She had to get up and run after these, usually trembling uncontrollably.
She'd cried the day before. She hadn't been able to stop for hours. She stumbled through the forest blubbering like an idiot and missing Gale. Her heart twisted in her chest, pounding irregularly. She had been convinced she was dying and curled herself in the roots of a large tree, rocking herself while she hyperventilated.
After that she didn't feel much of anything. She was like a little robot. Hunting, peeing, feeding herself and roaming through the woods looking for the other Champions. She saw Cato and Clove pacing the outskirts of the meadow once when she was getting water from the lake. They had disappeared into the tall grass before she could get close enough to get a clear shot.
She regretted not killing them before.
Clove was noticeably unarmed, but she was agile. The boy from 11 was struggling to keep up with her as she leapt over fallen branches and fissures in the forest floor. At least that's what it looked like to Katniss. Her spot in the tree kept her pretty well hidden. And the two seemed to completely ignore her. It was only when the boy stopped to pick up a rather large object from the ground and proceeded to throw it at the girl that Katniss realized he had just been biding his time.
The large rock struck Clove hard on the back of the head, sending her staggering forward. By the time the girl regained her faculties, 11's champion was already upon her. As Clove turned to run, he struck her knee with the butt of the heavy spear he carried. There was a sickening crack that the hunter could hear even from this distance, as the joint tore and dislocated. The girl from 2 let out a painful yelp and fell to the ground and her pursuer stabbed her in the ribs with his weapon.
Katniss couldn't stand this. They were moving too much from too far away for her to take either of them out so she climbed down from her perch and stalked toward them.
"Cato!" Clove screamed her partner's name. Katniss' heart broke. She looked for any sign of the dragon's coming to her rescue but saw none. "Cato!" The girl screamed again, more loudly. Thresh bashed at her head, once again using the butt of the spear. Blood poured from Clove's nose. Katniss tried to take aim at the boy but he was jerking and ducking around, always watching his back. She mostly had to hide. Thresh seemed anxious and manic - constantly twitching, grunting and whimpering. Animalistic - as Katniss had been when she killed Marvel. He fumbled around the clearing on his hands and knees, hands grabbing frantically for the stone he had used to hit her before.
Clove remained largely unresponsive. She coughed red and squirmed, arms flailing randomly. Katniss still didn't have a clear shot of the boy, try as she might. If he saw her, he would probably kill her. If Cato showed up, injured as he was, Thresh would probably kill him and do to Katniss what he was going to do to Clove. If she ran from this whole thing left him alive, this would be Clove's grisly end. Though the girl was ornery, she had still nursed Katniss to health and the reason she had volunteered for the Games had been out of love. She couldn't let her go out like that. Beaten and bloodied.
In the time it took her to come to a decision, Thresh had found the stone and was shuffling back to Clove on his knees. He may have been moving too much to get a clear shot, but Clove wasn't. Katniss swallowed the lump in her throat and said a silent prayer for the girl before letting her arrow fly. Upon impact, Thresh jumped back, dropping the rock and pressing himself against a nearby tree. Clove's cannon sounded before her limbs even fell limp against the ground.
"What the hell?!" Thresh squawked. "By the gods…" He began tugging at his pants, wiping his hands roughly against the material as if trying to remove a painful chemical. He scrambled to his feet running full sprint in Katniss' direction. She notched another arrow, taking aim at him. She would take them both out. He noticed her and stopped dead in his tracks. He watched her, eyes wide with fear and confusion.
"That wasn't me." He whimpered, but he seemed to look through her. She realized he was speaking more to himself than to her. "That wasn't me." He repeated.
Katniss' brow furrowed. Thresh had seemed one of the stronger opponents she would have had to face. This shaking, scared boy was not what she had been expecting. It was then that she noticed his scratching at his legs may not have been some nervous act. There seemed to be a raw-looking rash marring his chest and neck. Something he ate perhaps? Whatever it was it was driving the boy mad. In the moment she had hesitated to notice his rash, his demeanor changed from fearful to outright enraged. He lunged at her, knocking her back on the ground.
Her bow clattered to the ground and her breath left her as the much larger boy fell onto her chest - digging his elbows in. Upon impact, his forearm immediately moved to her throat, blocking off her air. She gagged, reaching for her knife but finding its sheath empty. She began squirming - pushing at the arm alleviated the pressure somewhat, but he was twice her size and she knew she was only delaying the inevitable unless she could get him off of her.
"Clove?!" A panicked voice shouted in the distance. Thresh was taking big, labored breaths, looking back for the source of the voice.
"Did you hear that?" He was looking to the sky. As if he believed the voice had come from the heavens themselves. She would never like Cato, but his arrival was certainly fortuitous.
She gulped in as much breath as she could and choked out, "Cato's coming." Thresh glanced down at her, cursing under his breath, before dashing off in another direction. Katniss heaved, curling in on herself and rubbing tenderly at her abused throat. She lay there for a moment before getting her wits about her.
She had just escaped a near death experience - she wasn't about to be caught by Clove's body when and angry and probably-still-poisoned Cato showed up. None the less, she stayed where she could see him when he finally came crashing through the brush.
He ran to Clove's body and knelt over her, brushing her hair out of her face and pleading with her to be alive. He held her close to him and murmured something into her ear. Katniss watched from her vantage point. He went quiet and still after a time and finally sat her down, wiping some of the blood from her face with his sleeve. He scanned the area with a calm rage she had never seen in him. Murderous. His eyes landed on her and she shrunk back. He stood and strode toward her.
When she hadn't run with Thresh, she had felt it was out of respect for the girl that rescued her. She needed to know that she and Cato had been reunited and that Clove wouldn't be alone in death. She wouldn't be one of those lonely corpses that littered this arena since the inception of the Hunger Games. Someone cared that Clove was gone, and the world needed to know it. These 'champions' weren't entertainment, they were people.
In her still hazy mind Cato would realize this immediately and all would be well. So when the boy who had every reason to kill her for taking his friend's life was upon her, she felt no fear. She was immediately dragged back to a reality in which she was locked in an arena where the only choices were to fight or die when Cato, instead, rushed at her - knocking her back to the ground from which she had only recently gotten up.
"You bitch!" He screamed at her. He straddled her hips and landed a punch under her ribcage. She choked as the air was once again forced from her lungs. "I could have saved her!" She brought her arms up to shield herself as his fist now aimed for her face.
"He punctured her lung. He bashed her head in!" She cried. "There was nothing anybody could have done." He pulled her hands down and pinned them under his legs. "She was going to die no matter what!" Another heavy hand connected with her chest. He rolled off of her shouting curses into the ether. He destroyed everything he could get his hands on that was capable of being destroyed before turning his rage onto himself. His fists collided with the trunks of trees, pounding on them until his knuckles were bloody. So people really do beat the ground and pull their hair out. She thought as he continued his frenzy, tearing at his hair and body.
He finally collapsed in the dirt near her breathing heavily. She thought, perhaps, she should comfort him. But before she could lay a hand on him, Cato rolled over and grabbed the collar of her shirt, dragging her toward him.
"Where is he?" He hissed. She gulped before pointing in the direction of the 11 boy's escape.
The sun was setting. She remained in the spot Cato had left her in. She picked mud out of the grooves in her boots with a twig. It was meditative, it allowed her to forget all the tragedy she had seen in the arena.
"The Games are sick, honey." She jeered at herself in Haymitch's voice. He was right though. She had never imagined such horrors in her young life. Even though she didn't approve of the Games and didn't make it a point to watch them until Prim was approaching Reaping age, the recaps and her treatment in the Capitol made it seem like it would be - easier?
She knew they were not glorious, but she never imagined them as depraved. The concept obviously was, but never the actions of the participants. She never pictured a remorseless killer slitting a little girl's throat or an otherwise decent human being brutalizing a young woman. She always pictured them as unwilling. Sure the careers would feel arrogant at first, but as time went on, they would grow to regret their actions. They would hesitate. But none of that was true. If anything, the dog eat dog mentality turned them into just that - dogs.
"Champions and tribute, please report to the cornucopia for your final confrontation." The announcer ordered over the loudspeaker. Katniss looked around. What direction was the cornucopia? She pivoted on her spot. A large, pale blue arrow shone in the sky, flashing down at what she assumed would be her destination.
She grabbed her bow and quiver. Cato hadn't killed Thresh yet, but it was only a matter of time until the two fought. They only had one direction they could go now. She heard a deep rumbling behind her. They were breaking down the arena, pushing the champions closer together. It was a race to the finish. She trudged down the hill, arrow at the ready.
When she arrived, most of ,the forest around the cornucopia was consumed by flame and Cato and Thresh were no where to be found. Her apathy unnerved her. She should be freaking out, she should be hunting Cato, she should be scanning the horizon for any hint of the beast's whereabouts… but she wasn't. Instead she plopped down in the mouth of the cornucopia, arrow still notched, and waited. It didn't take long for Cato to appear from the burning tree line. So this is it. He won. She let out a shaky breath, standing to face him. She didn't know if she should kill him there and face the wrath of the Capitol or just let him take her without argument.
Before she knew it, he stood before her, looking every bit the god of war. A bloodied sword was gripped tightly in his hand and his face had been blackened from the smoke of the forest. He had a deep gash in his cheek that probably cut straight through, judging by the blood drying on his chin. The front of his shirt was torn open revealing his markings, blistering with his Lord's punishment. For what, she did not know.
He sheathed the sword and pulled the arrow from her hand, replacing it with a harsh looking knife. It felt very heavy. Heavier than the ones she threw previously. She looked at him questioningly.
"Kill me." His voice was raspy and his breath was rancid with the smell blood and burnt flesh. He led her hand with the knife up to his chest and placed the tip of the blade over his heart.
"Thresh is dying. If you kill me, you can go home." It was hard to understand him and in their proximity she could see his lips were blistered and bloody and trembling as he tried to fight back the pain in his mouth. She wanted to touch them. She felt this morbid fascination with the wounds that were no doubt brought on by his gift. She wanted nothing more than to prize open his mouth and see what the fire had done.
He shook her violently, jerking her out of the daze she was in. He looked at her expectantly. She looked over at the blade, it had already left a fairly deep cut, drawing blood. She had been pressing harder than she had thought. She looked into his eyes again and then gripped the knife with a new purpose. The muscles of his chest twitched as she dug it in. But she only made it in about half an inch before her mind began screaming at her to stop. Despite who he was and what she had to gain, she still couldn't bring herself to press the blade in any further.
"Come on." He whispered, gripping her shoulders tightly. She shook her head, fighting back tears. She couldn't do it. Marvel's and Glimmer's grotesque forms flashed in her mind.
"I can't." She whimpered. The knife dropped to the ground. He let out an unintelligible shout before groaning in pain. He picked up the knife and placed it back in her hand, this time bringing the blade up to his throat. In her hyperaware state, she could see the light pulsing as the artery pumped blood to his brain. She felt ill, imagining the flesh oozing crimson, the blood flowing over her hand instead of toward its destination.
"It'll be quick. Won't hurt." His eyes were pleading. "There isn't much time." Her tongue was sticky and dry in her mouth. She tried to will her arm to move and bury the knife if Cato's throat, but no matter how much she willed it, it simply would not move.
She sobbed when the cannon sounded, signaling her doom. She fell to her knees, knife still in hand. She begged forgiveness from Peeta and Effie and her mentor - then Prim and Gale and everyone who she knew by name back in her home. She began spiraling into another abyss much like the one she had fallen into at the training center - only this time, there was no Peeta to bring her back out of it. There was no hope that she would live to see brighter days. There was nothing.
The next thing she knew, she was being hauled up into a pair of arms. They held her on her feet and led her back to a rope ladder where she was pinned between a body and it before being frozen in place.
She woke in the Capitol to Haymitch's bright blue eyes.
"Hey, sweetheart." He gave her a sad smile.
"I couldn't do it. I couldn't kill him." She tried to sit up but something was holding her down.
"I know, sweetheart. It ain't easy." Haymitch loosened a strap at her waist, but didn't undo it completely. "Don't move too much, you'll tear open that wound again." She looked down at herself. She was in a plain white t-shirt and white pajama pants.
"Where am I?" She looked around the unfamiliar room.
"District 2's suite." He was upset by this, she could tell.
"How long have I been out?"
"You've been in and out for about three days."
Her mouth was dry. Again. She squirmed against her restraints. "Can I have some water?" She croaked. Haymitch stood, grabbing a glass from the dresser and filling it in the bathroom sink. When he returned he pulled out his flask before handing the cup to her.
"I could make it one of those 'special' waters, if you like." He raised an eyebrow. She just shook her head. He unstrapped one of her hands and helped her sit up on the small bed.
He refilled her glass after she had emptied it and shifted uncomfortably in his chair. She could tell he had something to tell her, but she wasn't sure she wanted to hear it so she just let him squirm.
After several minutes of painful silence he finally couldn't take it anymore. "You're still alive, that's what's important. And you're going to stay that way." She looked up at him. His words were hopeful, but his expression was one of despair. "As long as you're alive, things can change. No matter how bad."
"Why are you telling me this?" That gnawing was back in her stomach. That roiling waiting to explode from her throat.
He sighed, gathering his thoughts. A dirty, calloused hand rubbed the stubble on his face.
"They're gonna put you through a ceremony." He said it like she should know what he meant. Apparently her confusion was evident on her face because he screwed his eyes shut before continuing. "It's a sort of rite of passage that all District 2 kids go through when they turn 14. They take about a year to prepare for it, but that's really out of the question for you."
"Why do I have to go through a rite of passage? I'm a sacrifice." Was he drunk?
"That's just it. It is a sacrifice - to Marcus. And in a way you're extremely lucky, but in another way you're very unlucky - hold on." He pulled out the flask, shoving it in her face. "Drink that. All of it." She did as she was told. Eying him the whole time she drank. She finished what was left of the flask, sputtering as a chill ran down the side of her neck. "Lucky about what?"
He sighed. "Your virginity."
She stared blankly. "What?"
He scowled at her annoyed. "Give it a minute. Let that work its magic." He pointed at the flask.
He let her sit there, cheeks becoming warmer and pinker until she was slightly dizzy and fairly giddy. Giggling at his uncomfortable writhing.
"So what about my 'virginity'," She made air quotes. "Is lucky?"
His brow furrowed. "Why'd you do that?" He mimicked her quotations.
"I'm not a virgin." She laughed. Her cheeks got warmer, she couldn't believe she was telling him this. "Me and Gale did stuff all the time."
"Well the word came down from Marcus himself that you'd never… uh - experienced the touch of the burlier sex." Her mentor's eyes narrowed - scrutinizing her. "So unless you had some sort of divine cloaking device…" He trailed off.
Katniss thought for a moment. He had never actually been inside her, but that couldn't possibly equate to her being a virgin. Unless Circe's disparaging ramblings were to be believed.
"What's the - what's the rite?" It seemed sort of clichéd to sacrifice a virgin to one of the gods. They hadn't practiced that ritual for over two centuries. She didn't know why they'd start back up.
"Well, the boys get - well - it's not important." He ignored her questioning look. "And the girls get… deflowered up on the altar."
"It's a rite of womanhood." The witch had said. "The blood is the little girl leaving you, the pain is her fighting to stay." After the witch had told her this upon their first meeting. Katniss had shown a reluctance to let Gale penetrate her. At the time she had been more afraid of getting pregnant and had come to the woman for advice. She hadn't thought the process would actually hurt - but the witch insisted that, though the pain wasn't necessary, it was what would make her a true woman. Then she swore up and down that the more pain she experienced now, the more pleasure she would feel in the future… and proceeded to insult Katniss' slender, flat chested form.
"It's a blood sacrifice."
"And how is that lucky?"
"Well if you weren't a virgin, you would pay with your life. But since you are, you get to stick around." He tried to make the situation sound brighter than it was. "Listen, it's better than them cutting your heart out while your family, your boyfriend and me and Effie and everybody in Panem is forced to watch - 'cause that's what they'll do." Katniss teared up. She had escaped this. And now she had to walk right back into it. Haymitch took her hand.
"I know what you're thinkin." He said.
"No you don't."
"You're thinkin it's gonna be like last time. But it's not gonna be like last time. No one's gonna be tryin to break you. It's just a ceremony, it doesn't take long at all. Its very clinical, nothing scary." He paused. "It's cake compared to the game you just survived."
"How do you know?" She spat.
His expression darkened. "Just trust me. I know."
He kept a hold of her hand a moment longer. He took back his flask and told her to be strong before leaving the room. She waited until she could no longer hear his footsteps before undoing her restraints. She went to the bathroom, looking at herself in the mirror.
The mark Seneca had given her had vanished completely and the ugly scar on her side was gone - what she had instead was a wide, red laceration just above her hip. It appeared that she had been operated on as she slept. The wound looked much better now that it had been treated professionally. It was no longer puckered and raw looking, but the skin looked glued together. She touched it to find it burned slightly, but it wasn't unbearable. She wondered if she could wash it. She desperately wanted a shower. They had probably washed her in her sleep as well, but she wanted to do it herself - properly. So she wetted a wash rag and lightly dabbed and rubbed across one corner of her wound to check that it wouldn't open as she bathed.
It hurt fairly badly, but it wasn't anything she couldn't handle and the adhesive seemed to be sticking so she stepped into the warm shower - loving the way the water washed over her. She sighed happily. She hadn't felt this clean in weeks. It was heavenly. She lathered shampoo in her hair and took extra time to insure that every bit of her was scrubbed. Then she turned the heat up and just let the hot water sooth her aching muscles.
Her peaceful shower was interrupted by the bathroom door slamming open. A large man came storming in. He turned off the water and dragged her from the bathroom, still wet and completely naked.
"You're not to leave that bed unless we say you can." He had a hold of the back of her neck, gripping it painfully. He threw her unceremoniously onto aforementioned bed. A sharp pain emanated from her injured side. She tried to scramble away from him and off the other side of the bed but he grabbed her ankle, jerking her back toward him. She realized now, that her legs were wide open for him so she snapped them shut and tried to cover herself with her hands. He didn't seem to notice her nudity, he was just livid.
"You're not an individual anymore - you're property of the pantheon. And when we tell you to stay put, you stay put. What part of that didn't you understand?" Her eyes were wide. What is he talking about?
"Oh, Frida's cunt, Brutus. The girl was plastered when you told her that!" A hissing voice came from behind the man. The woman that came up behind him was harsh looking, but very beautiful, with deep black hair, olive skin, chocolate eyes and razor sharp teeth. This was the girl. The girl who ripped her victim's throats out. Enobaria.
"And for the love of all that is holy where are her clothes?!" Brutus looked uncomfortable, he made a move toward the bathroom, unsure if that was where Katniss had left them. He left Katniss and the woman alone as he began his search. She appraised Katniss, taking in every square inch of her that wasn't hidden from view. The woman watched her with the eyes of a predator, but not the sexual kind Katniss had grown familiar with - just the classically terrifying kind. Noticing the girl's fear, the woman "smiled" at her. A big toothy one. The archer had heard the term "crocodile smile" before, and she had seen a few in her time, but they all paled in comparison to this.
She was saved by Brutus' return with a towel and her clothing. He threw them to her and then turned to stare down his district mate.
"Good, now hurry along Brutus. She and I need to have a talk." She kissed Brutus lightly on the cheek. He looked disgusted by this, but obeyed her regardless.
Enobaria gave her a hungry look and sat down beside her. Katniss scooted up against the headboard.
"I assume Haymitch told you what would become of you once we return to 2?" The gravely purr of her voice juxtaposed with the slight hiss caused by her alteration gave her speech an eerie, unearthly quality.
Katniss nodded, unsure of how to respond. She set to drying herself off before getting dressed. She withered under the woman's hard gaze. She studied Katniss' movements, never once taking her eyes off of her body. When Katniss was fully clothed, she spoke again.
"And?" She asked. Katniss was confused.
"What else do you want me to say?"
Enobaria smirked. She had to hold her lips at an awkward angle so as not to nick them, adding to her increasingly manic, inhuman appearance.
"Aren't you excited?" The woman leaned in closer, running her hand up Katniss' thigh. The girl flinched away. "You know it's going to be Cato, right?" There was a sort of demonic glee on the woman's face.
Katniss swallowed. "I kind of assumed."
"You get to be taken by one of the gifted of Marcus." Her smile had shifted to one that was slightly more girly now. "I wish I had been so lucky." She fake pouted before sprawling out on her back on the bed. "I bet his flesh will be absolutely searing." Enobaria clenched her thighs together, rubbing them against one another as she arched her back - obviously losing herself to some fantasy of the boy.
"I can't say I'm excited about being forced to sleep with a cannibalistic psychopath, no." Katniss growled. "But I am looking forward to spending my days staring at all the lovely rocks your shit hole of a district has to offer." She hoped she sounded insulting. She hoped this angered the woman enough for her to leave and never speak to her again - she was terribly creepy.
Unfortunately, this was not to be the case.
"It's a shame you're a heathen from 12." The woman cooed. "I would love to have trained you." She petted Katniss' hair in mock affection. "Although I suppose it would have been you or our Cato - or perhaps Gaius, in a few years." Katniss said nothing, just willed the devil away.
"You gave a great performance all around." The woman leaned over to whisper in her ear. "That stunt with the district 1 boy, I must say was," She purred. "Inspired." Katniss could hear the light clinking of the metal teeth as the woman said the word. "And that look you gave our Cato at the end," Katniss felt the hand moving up her leg again and she slapped it off. "Your innocent act doesn't fool me." The woman forced her to meet her eyes. From this close Katniss swore she could almost see a reddish tint to them. She convinced herself it was just her overactive imagination.
The man on the television droned on about the much anticipated program for the evening - featuring all the drama of his three games plus an exclusive interview with the "true victor", Cato Andronicus. But Katniss could care less about Cato's interviews, because the only Capitol thing she was interested in seeing was walking into her room with an armful of dress. She ran to Cinna, pulling him into a big hug. He hugged her back, whispering that he was so glad she was alive, and that he believed in her from the very beginning. They stayed like that for a while, just enjoying each other's company before finally separating.
"I brought you a dress." Cinna said mournfully.
"I can see that." Katniss offered him her best fake smile.
He was quiet for a moment before adding. "You're still alive, that's what matters." Katniss stopped him.
"Me and Haymitch already had that talk." She really didn't want to discuss it again. He patted her back.
"You were so brave." He paused. "You still are." His smile warmed her. And once again she found he calmed her when she didn't even know she had been afraid.
"What you did for those kids in the arena - giving them a proper farewell - you touched a lot of hearts. They've donated to your mother and Prim." Katniss' eyes widened. Really? She didn't think the Capitol had it in them. "I just wanted you to know they're taken care of." Well that was one less thing she had to worry about.
The dress, she was told, was for her arrival in District 2. She would be departing with Cato and his mentors after his parting speech tonight. Her stylist had nowhere in particular to be and since she didn't need to make any public appearances, he was left with enough free time to just spend time with her. That's why she found herself heavily made up but still in her drab uniform (with several rhinestones and sequins added "for effect") and polishing of a bottle of wine with her favorite Capitol lap dog. They watched the highlights of Cato's Games. Cheering and booing drunkenly as champions tried and failed to take him down.
She was pleased to find that Cinna was as much of a light-weight as she was, getting tipsy off of barely two glasses. They watched, enraptured as the favorite of Cato's first Games nearly demolished him with a sledgehammer. The girl was large for her sex, nearing 6", and very toned. She came from District 4 and found during her initial bloodbath that nothing could defeat her with a mighty sledgehammer.
She dislocated a younger Cato's shoulder with one swing and he cried out in agony. He managed to sprain his wrist and break several fingers as he tried to block what would have been a deadly blow to his ribs. They watched, hands over their mouths as the boy started taking in quick, panicky breaths. Katniss guessed he was preparing himself for the pain of his gift and she was right, with one final heave he burned the girl to a fine, brown paste. It was this kill that cemented his victory. The rest of the champions were terrified of him and he used that to his advantage.
His second Games went quite a bit smoother for him. He took out nearly all opposition in a matter of days. Quick work, indeed. His final battle had he and the remaining two champions being chased back to the cornucopia by genetically engineered wolf mutts. The narrator told them that they were designed using dead player's DNA. Katniss found this revolting. She glowered as Cato dispatched the other two champions, shoving the male off the side of the cornucopia (nearly being taken off himself) and slicing the girl's throat.
Katniss couldn't bare to watch her own Game's so Cinna changed the channel. They watched a fashion show instead. Designers showing of their district themed outfits. She and Cinna chatted through most of this and she later fell asleep against his shoulder.