AN: This is a note and a warning. This has been sitting on my computer for ages and I just got the inspiration to finally finish it. This fic is AU; Katniss and Cato both survived the Hunger Games etc. What am I focusing on? Well, I am sure a few of you picked up on the subtle hints in the book that the Capitol would...um...sort of sell different Victors to different people for a night if they were desirable. (this can be mostly found in the second book, referencing Finnick.) I found that idea to be particularly dark for a YA book and I was surprised that it was there, but I am glad I am not the only one who noticed it- although I hope the younger readers didn't since it is a very dark and disturbing thing.

So yes...this fic revolves around that, but the only sex scene you will actually read is Cato/Katniss so never fear. There is explicit sexual content in this fic, so if you are not old enough to read it, click the back button.

Also, curiously...this fic is written from Cato's complete POV.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games or the characters. Those belong to Suzanne Collins.


:::


The cigarette tastes like ash in his mouth, but that doesn't stop him from taking another drag. He glares down at the note sitting before him, the down payment lying beside it. Fifty grand is a hefty price, but the full cost is one hundred grand once the service is provided.

He tosses the introduction letter away. He doesn't even read it because he doesn't care what the simpering rich woman has to say. It is always the same, the same justifying tone that tries to hide their shame for paying for a high priced bed mate.

He finishes his cigarette and stomps it out on the balcony of his apartment. He goes back inside and avoids looking at himself in the mirror because he doesn't even want to see his own face. He doesn't brush his teeth because he doesn't care if the woman doesn't like the taste of smoke in his mouth.

He just doesn't care.

He pulls some better clothing on, reminiscing on how vain he used to be about his good looks and how he feels that they are a curse now.

Cato walks out of the front door and lights another cigarette as he makes his way back to the Capitol's Victor building, to the room he knows he is going to be entertaining in tonight.

Time to earn the continuity of his family's safety, and of course President Snow's favor.


:::


Finnick used to tell him to ignore the pain, but Cato doesn't know how. This emotional pain isn't something he knows how to cope with. He only knows how to cope with physical pain, the pain from a good battle. They drink together, sometimes, and Finnick tells him that it could be worse.

Cato doesn't believe him very much, especially since he has watched his self worth go down the shitter ever since he won seven years ago. At least the amounts of requests have gone down over the years. His first year, when he had been eighteen, had been horrific. At first he thought, how bad can it be, fucking women and getting paid ridiculous sums of money to do it?

Then he realized it wasn't as enjoyable as he had thought it would be. He was like a well sought object, a commodity, and the women who had him would brag to others about how they had finally gotten in the sack with the overly brutal Victor from District 2.

Cato hates it.

"Like I said, it could be worse. At least you don't love anybody, right?" Finnick says in his lighthearted way, which isn't as lighthearted and casual as it seems on the outside.

Cato takes a swig from his whiskey and mutters, "Yeah, good thing."

He isn't exactly lying; there isn't anyone that he loves. However, he misses the ability to choose his partners and there is only one woman he has actually thought about having recently and that's probably because she is the one he can't have…and he doesn't even like her.

Not that he has the right to like anyone anyway.


:::


When she turned eighteen two years after Cato, the untouched Katniss Everdeen sold for a cool ten million.

For one night.

Cato had scoffed originally, wondering why any man would pay that much to fuck The Girl Who Never Smiles. Cato had already been in the bidding 'game' for two years and hadn't seen anyone spend that much for one night.

President Snow had held a huge party in honor of her birthday at the Victor Capitol building and everyone had been invited. When he saw her, radiant as only Katniss could be, she looked ready to cry, or rather, it looked like she had been crying for hours before the party even started.

Still feeling the burn of the old rivalry between them, Cato had only sneered in her direction. Katniss was so buried in her own fears and emotions that she barely acknowledged him.


:::


Years have passed since Katniss Everdeen's eighteenth birthday party. Many games have come and gone and new, young Victors have come into the playing field. Cato is glad since it takes the spotlight off of him. He has seen Katniss at some of the private Victor gatherings and has long since gotten over his unadulterated hatred of her. Of course, just because he doesn't hate her doesn't mean he likes her. She is beautiful and he can admire that and although she is probably one of the saddest people he has ever met, she still has her fire, he can see it in her eyes when she glares at him. Which isn't often since she usually tends to stay away from him. Cato supposes the death of Peeta Mellark by his hand still stings pretty damn hard.

This night, however, is a quiet gathering before the next Hunger Game kicks off. Many of the Victors are quietly drinking or smoking, others conversing in groups. Haymitch, of course, is drunk out of his mind because he doesn't have any hope for his new tributes. Finnick is being his usual flirtatious self with everyone, even the men.

Cato has had enough whiskey for now and he drifts out to the balcony to breathe in the night air in peace. It is only a few moments before his old senses kick in and he realizes that he is being watched. "It is cold out, you know," she utters softly to him in her smoky voice.

Cato rolls his eyes exaggeratedly due to the alcohol. He feels a hand caress his back as his companion joins him at the railing. He gives her a cool sidelong glance and replies with, "I've had enough to drink to numb that feeling."

He looks away from her because she is too perfect, too pristine and he wants to crush her because she doesn't look as ruined as he is on the inside. He hears her snort as he looks away from her. "Apparently you haven't had enough to drink to pretend you can stand being near me."

He looks back at her and sees that fire burning in her keen grey eyes. "No," he snaps, "perhaps I'm not drunk enough to forget how much you hate me."

Cato knows that she hates him; he did kill Peeta Mellark all those years ago, after all. She surprises him when she leans her side against his body. She is shivering, that much he can see, but why stay out here and talk to him if that is the case? "I used to hate you, so much that I couldn't think about anything else other than getting revenge. But then after all that has happened to us I have realized there is no point to hating you anymore. It just takes too much energy. I hate enough of the people here in the Capitol without you getting added to the mix."

Cato laughs bitterly. "I suppose you are right, Girl on Fire."

He runs his hand through her long hair, no longer in an innocent braid. His vision is fuzzy and he can't tell if she is looking at him in shock, but she says nothing of his action. Instead, she whispers, "Do you ever wish that you hadn't survived the Games?"

"All the time."

So they apparently agree on one thing.


:::


They meet again at a party with the newly crowned Victors. Once again two are standing before them since the Capitol had been entertained by the couple so much in the arena. Cato catches her standing on the outskirts of the ballroom and he stalks over to her. "Trying to hide?" He sneers at her.

She shakes her head slowly and her smoky eyes laugh mockingly at him. "Hide? Never. Wipe that expression off your face, do you want to scare off your potential clients?"

Cato's expression doesn't change. Instead, he leans closer and nastily says, "Actually, that's why they come to me. If those women wanted someone nice and flowery, they would have chosen Finnick."

Her lip curls in disgust briefly before her expression changes into something quite akin to emotionless. Her next words shock the heck out of him. "Want to get out of here before someone remembers us?"

Cato is so surprised by her offer that he can only follow her lead as she tugs him out of the light and into the darkness of the building. He is even more surprised when she shoves him against the wall in a darkened hallway and presses her lips against his.

She tastes of red wine, sweet and sharp and Cato thrusts his tongue deeper into her mouth to get a better taste. This is the first time in years that he has enjoyed an actual kiss. She makes a noise softly into his mouth and bites his lip gently, teasing him. She is like liquid flame in his arms and he can't get enough, he simply wants more and more and he doesn't know why.

When she pulls away he feels the loss like a punch to the gut.

"So," he whispers huskily against her ear, "that is what a multi-million dollar kiss tastes like."

He is referring, of course, to how much was spent on her for the night she turned eighteen, hoping to knock her off balance. For a moment, Katniss looks like she is going to be offended by his words, but then she only smiles tightly. She sees the unanswered questions in his eyes, because fuck he still doesn't like her and he is pretty damn sure that she doesn't like him all that much either.

She kisses his neck just to watch him shiver and she brushes her hand across the front of his slacks as he bites his lips to try and silence his moan. "Wouldn't you like to know?"

Then, like a leaf in the wind, she is gone, leaving Cato with his mind swirling and his dick hard.

Thanks Katniss, he thinks irately.


:::


President Snow's birthday is always a big event. All of the former Victor's must attend. The entire Capitol attends just for the free alcohol and food. Snow never skimps on his own birthday. Cato can't wait for it to be over; he's already sick and tired of being mauled by women he has never met before. In fact, he's been sick and tired of that for years already.

He tries to slip outside when a woman in her mid thirties stops him, a hand running down his chest smoothly. In her hand is a check and Cato wants to run and hide because he knows what it is for. He had hoped to get through this night without getting an offer, a demand, but he isn't very lucky it seems. He tells her he will see her later with a wide, fake smile. She eats it up and Cato doesn't know if she even cares that he is faking his interest.

He sees Katniss dancing with Finnick and watches for a few moments. The pair is graceful and Katniss is always laughing at something the ever charming Finnick has to say. Finnick sees him watching and smiles in his direction, artlessly moving towards Cato with Katniss in his arms. Finnick passes her off with a grin and Katniss's eyes widen as Cato moves her out onto the dance floor. She gives Finnick a look that is something like betrayal.

They dance without speaking, simply swaying against each other. She is like fire in his arms and Cato wishes it was her and not some stranger he was seeing later tonight. But alas, this is his life now, and his body is not his own. He brushes his forehead against hers in some form of longing, because he knows he can never have her, no man can have Katniss unless he pays for her.

There is a loud cough beside them and Cato finds himself looking at a distinguished older gentleman, perhaps in his late fifties. Katniss falters, but then smiles slightly at the man, glancing at Cato nervously. "My dear Mr. Egerton, how are you tonight?"

The man starts talking with Katniss softly, but Cato tunes them out, feeling some form of sickness forming in his belly as he realizes this older man will be her partner for the night. Within moments, the older gentleman has departed and Katniss is back at his side. She can't look at him. "Follow me."

Cato frowns, but follows her anyway. "Where are we going?"

"You will see," she replies cryptically.

She turns without waiting for him, so sure that he will follow her wherever she demands he go. Her arrogance is biting. Katniss silently takes him downstairs to the lower levels of the building, to President Snow's extravagant private rooms. Cato isn't quite sure what is going on, but he can tell by the set of her shoulders that Katniss is feeling tense. They come to a stop in front of a large oak door with lions for door handles. How overly extravagant. How totally like Snow.

Katniss exhales loudly and turns to face Cato. Her eyes are wary, much like they were when he first met her. Cato can almost feel the waves of emotion pouring off of her, a strange mix of anxiety and excitement. Excitement?

Then the look in her eyes changes into something bitter and she pulls him forward roughly by his tie so that his nose is inches from hers. "Get inside and wait for me," she hisses.

There. That's the nasty bitch he knows.

Still, Cato frowns and decides that he is the one with the dick here, not her, so he grits out, "I have an arrangement tonight, I don't have time for your silly games."

Katniss quirks an eyebrow at him and tilts her head. She opens the door for him anyway saying, "I'll take care of that, just do as I tell you."

Cato opens him mouth to snarl out another retort, another reason to not listen to her every word, but Katniss spins away and walks down another hallway. The nerve of that bitch, he thinks mutinously as he walks into the room set before him.

What greets him is utterly…odd. There is a single chair in the center of the room and no other furnishings, aside from few gaudy looking plush couches. The room is filled with mirrors, every single wall, just a giant mirror reflecting his confused face. "What the…Katniss! Is this some kind of a joke?" He yells out.

It feels like hours have passed when Katniss returns, her strappy heels clicking on the floor. She stares at him intensely before her grey eyes drift around the room. Then, she reaches behind her, shutting the door with finality. It's like a change instantly comes over her, the moment the door is shut. It's almost like an act, as if she is preparing to put on a show. Katniss doesn't smile at him, but she looks at him from under lowered lashes as she strolls towards him in a manner he hasn't seen out of her before.

It makes him uneasy.

"Girl on Fire, seriously, what the fuck are you-"

"Take your clothes off," she interrupts, yanking his tie off in one swift movement, throwing it on the ground brusquely.

Cato splutters, watching his thousand dollar tie getting soiled by the ground. "Um. Why?"

Katniss roughly pushes him down onto the large chair in the center of the room and she leans close, her lips brushing his ear. "Because," she breathes, "I told you to."

Then her tongue traces the curve of his ear and all thought leaves his head. Katniss's hand makes its way into his hair and she turns his head so that his lips are pressed against hers. Her lips are soft and sure and Cato opens his mouth under her assault, letting her explore his mouth completely. Her other hand is making a fiery path down his chest, pulling his suit coat open viciously before touching him…oh yeah…right there.

OhGodOhGodOhGod is all he can think.

His hips jerk under her touch and Cato still has no clue what is going on and Katniss is biting his lip, making him groan into her mouth. "Take em'….take em' off," he moans desperately, gesturing wildly to his slacks.

Katniss pulls away slightly, her honeyed scent still clouding his mind. She looks over his shoulder at the mirror and her eyes are betraying nothing. Cato can only imagine what she is seeing; he can only sit there under her control, a mess of arousal and confusion as she whips her eyes back to his and rips his slacks open as well, leaving him in nothing as she works at his shirt also.

"Ah," she whispers, staring at his unclothed cock, "I should have known you would be the type to forgo underwear."

He can't even breathe as her delicate fingers ghost over his erection, he feels like he is drowning because her eyes are knowing and almost mocking as she strokes him, one, two, three times, enough for his precum to begin leaking from his slit.

Katniss pulls away and Cato gasps in dismay as the lack of pressure from her hand leaves his cock aching for more, leaves him dying for more. Once again, she looks at the mirrors around them and does a slow twirl in front of him, her hands on her shoulder straps, slowly, oh God, she's taking it off, she's slowly sliding the straps down her arms.

Cato can't even bring himself to inhale as the black evening gown she is wearing falls into a graceful puddle on the floor, leaving her in those fucking strappy heels. He is staring and he can't help it because she is perfect, her breasts, her hips and the part just below. It's her scars that turn him on even more because he has ones just like them. "Katniss…what…what is going on?"

Once again she slowly turns in a slow, swaying circle, arching her back and sticking her chest out, as if to show the world how desirable she is.

He can barely get the words out of his mouth. She only smiles at him as if she isn't standing naked in front of him, with every single mirror around them reflecting her like a dream. "Isn't it obvious?" She says in a voice so earnest it shouldn't be legal, "Tonight, you belong to me."

Everything and nothing makes sense at this point and Cato doesn't care anymore. Within moments, she is kneeling before him and her tongue is tasting the fluid leaking from his tip and Cato can't think of anything more erotic right now. He places his hand in her hair and barely refrains from pushing her down further. Those lips are setting a flame in his body and Cato is getting harder than he has ever been in so long. Katniss looks up at him and there is a challenge in her eyes as she opens and swallows him whole.

Cato doesn't want to think about who else she has done this to, doesn't have time to because his eyes roll back in his head and he flushes as he hears her slurping between his thighs. He's never felt so hot before and he blames her.

Sex hasn't been this interesting in years.

Her mouth is warm around him, and shit her tongue is doing things to him that make him want to explode, makes him want to fill her mouth right then and there. Or maybe, the darker side of him sneers, the side that still sees her as the rival of his childhood, maybe I could just cum on her face, show her who she belongs to.

But he doesn't blow just because he doesn't want this to end, not yet. His hands leave her hair and make their way to her breasts, cupping both, enjoying the feel of their weight in his palms. He gently circles her nipples with his thumbs, knowing how much women he's been with like that. Cato feels smug pride flash through him as her body jerks against him the moment he plays with the little nubs. "Like that?" He mutters hoarsely.

With a loud, wet noise, Katniss pulls away from his cock and Cato finds the blush fanning her cheeks to be utterly un-Katniss in an attractive way. Her gaze finds his once more and Cato can see every single small shade that made up the grey up her eyes. She is unwavering, as always, that he can easily see. She is unfazed by this encounter, but only in the matter that she has suffered through President Snow's body manipulation for nearly as long as Cato himself.

He watches as she shivers under his touch, as his warm hands slide from her breasts, down her stomach, down to her folds, which he finds slick. A jolt of desire coils low in his stomach because it isn't like she is faking this, oh no, she wanted him. Katniss tilts her head back to look up at him, still on her knees, between his legs and Cato thanks his lucky stars that he isn't standing because he is sure his legs would give out.

Suddenly, she stands, putting her hands on his shoulders firmly, pushing him back in his seat. Without looking at him, she runs her hand up and down on his shaft, watching as it twitches at her gentle touch. He is aching for more and she isn't giving anything away from her expressions. She straddles his body, still holding onto his cock and she rubs the tip of it against her slick entrance. Cato's eyes flutter shut at the feeling, her wet heat bathing the sensitive head of his erection.

It is taking all of his will power to keep from simply thrusting up into her roughly, taking her at the pace he wants without regard. He moans as she continues to tease him, not allowing him to penetrate her farther than the head of his cock with go. She lowers herself just onto the head and then slides back up, never giving him what he wants.

He just wants to slam her down on to it. He wants to fucking make it so she can't walk in those damn heels when she leaves this room; make her pay for every time she ever fucked him over in the games. From the look in her eyes, Cato can only wonder if making him out of control like this is her revenge as well.

As she bobs above his cock, Katniss leans forward and runs her lips across his cheek, down to his neck where she gently bites at his skin, causing him to gasp. Eventually, her mouth finds its way to his ear and just as Cato thinks her can't take anymore, she whispers, "Think fast."

He doesn't even have time to think as she slams down onto him, slams down so that all rational thought flies out of his skull. The only thing crossing his mind is the fact that he has absolutely no control in this situation, none at all. "Move," he grits out as she stubbornly stays still, adjusting to his size.

Move she does, but slowly, almost like a lap dance. She is leaning against him so that her chest is flush against his. Normally Cato wouldn't mind this position, but he realizes that she is doing it so that she doesn't have to look at him; her face is either buried in his neck or staring over his shoulder. This bothers him somehow, but he doesn't really know why. Instead of saying something, he puts his hands on her hips and groans as she slowly rotates her hips, as if doing some sort of gyrating dance on his lap. It feels good, as he is completely encased in her silken warmth, deep inside of her. Fire is burning all through his skin and everything she touches with her hands seems to ignite.

She is like fire in his arms and it is everything he has never even dreamed of. He faintly wonders if Mellark ever had her in his arms this way. Blonde hair and blue eyes flash in Cato's mind and it makes him sick so he pushes all thoughts of Peeta Mellark out of his head.

Katniss changes her pace and begins to glide up and down at a pace that has Cato bruising her hips because he can barely hold back. "Try not to leave any marks," she breathes into his ear as she tongues him there hotly.

He groans and turns his face to hers, grabbing her face so that she has no choice but to kiss him. Cato kisses her hard and fast and runs his tongue across her lips and then into her mouth, brushing across her teeth and tongue, loving the way she moans into him. He wants to shove his tongue so far into her that she can't breathe, but he refrains since he knows women tend to hate throat fucking when they are being kissed.

He wants to dominate her, but the way she rides him hard and fast, slow and rough, tells him that she is the one dominating him. Her nails dig into his back and he hopes it leaves marks, he hopes he bleeds. She tugs her mouth away from his and buries her face into his shoulder again, licking and kissing the skin there. He still saw her face, flushed with pleasure, saw the lust in her eyes. No matter how she tries to hide it, she is enjoying this.

"God, I'm close," he moans out, grabbing her breasts, which are moving with every bounce of her body.

Cato puts his hands back on her hips and grips hard again, ignoring her former warning to avoid leaving marks on her skin. He stops her hips from moving and begins to thrust up into her and he holds her in place. Her back arches instantly as she offers her breasts to him, a soft keen making its way out of her throat. Fuck, he loves that sound.

He pounds up into her hard and takes one of her nipples into his mouth, trying to suck as much of her breast into his mouth as possible. When he glances up, he catches her eyes on him, watching his action and the gasps uh, ah, ahh, coming from her mouth tell him this is exactly what she likes. She tilts her hips more so that her clit is being rubbed against him with every move and the way she closes her eyes tells him that she is going to be seeing stars soon enough.

He feels his balls tightening up and knows that he is about to climax and he grips her to him hard, thrusting up in long, hard motions. Her soft pink lips, which had only recently been wrapped around his cock, open as she loudly moans out, "Oh…oh my God…fuu..ahhh!"

Cato almost blacks out when he feels her walls tighten around him, squeezing him hard. "Fuck, yes, you feel good wrapped around me," he groans out, slamming in one more time and holding her hips down as he releases deep inside of her.

It feels so good that he can't even keep his eyes open to look at her.

They remain as they are, wrapped around each other as they both catch their breath. Cato, out of habit of course, brushes his lips against her a few times in a semblance of affection. Katniss does not return the favor, but rubs her cheek against his once before pulling off of him awkwardly, the wet sound of it seeming loud in the now quiet room.

With no expression, she says, "If you were a client, that would have cost you extra."

He can barely think still so it takes him a moment to understand what she is talking about. "What?"

"You came in me. That generally costs extra," she says flatly as if this were a business deal, the passion in her gone.

Cato doesn't even know what to say to that so he remains silent. His eyes are drawn to her and she bends down to pick up her clothing, her pink folds presented to him fully. His throat goes dry as he sees the thick white of his seed leaking out of her.

He watches as she slides the gown back up her body, wishing she could just stay without it on, wishing she had just stayed bent over. Katniss turns and gives him a calculating look and says, "Get dressed, Cato. I'm quite sure we haven't missed Snow's routine toast."

From the tone of her voice he can tell that her act is over. What he doesn't understand is why there was an act in the first place. Reluctantly, Cato clothes himself and follows her outside of the room, following her as she turns down a different hallway than before. It is when they pass through a tight walkway that Cato sees a small group of distinguished looking older gentlemen, including the man who Katniss had spoken to earlier. The group is smoking and drinking, conversing quietly, but the older man lights up as he notices Katniss and Cato enter. "Ah, Katniss my darling, you did such a fine job, I hope you enjoyed yourself!"

Cato watches as Katniss allows the man to embrace her in the most adoringly of manners. Okay, that is weird, he can't help but think since he was quite sure the man had been trying to pay for her services earlier. He can't help but wonder what the old man is talking about in the first place.

The smile that crosses Katniss's face is slightly forced as she scans the room and Cato only knows this because that smile is so similar to the one he wears for clients. "Mr. Egerton, I'm sure my enjoyment was only rivaled by yours. May I ask, why such a crowd?"

The older man only chuckles. "Ah, my dear, why do you think? I couldn't possibly keep it to myself that you were going to be putting on a show for me with your longtime enemy from the games you were featured in. They begged me to let them join me."

Things are starting to become clear and Cato is beginning to wish that such things had stayed hidden. The large mirror in the room catches his eye and Cato turns to look into it, only to realize that it isn't a mirror at all. It's a window, a large, wall sized window.

A window looking directly into the room that he and Katniss had just been in.

Cato's heart nearly stops in his chest, because this is far worse than anything his clients have ever asked of him. And some of those lonely women could get pretty fucking nasty when it came to the bedroom games. It barely connects in his mind that all of the men –and some women- in this room watched him fuck Katniss Everdeen, which in all cases truly wasn't supposed to happen. No one was supposed to get with her unless they paid a heavy fee for it…and Cato didn't exactly pay anything. Another thought comes to his mind that disturbs him even more; did these people actually want to watch him and Katniss in particular? Was that what this was about?

He has no idea how he feels about being watched by a group of no less than ten people that he doesn't even know. Cato doesn't have much dignity left when it comes to sex, but he sure has enough left to feel slightly violated by the idea of all these eyes watching him. Katniss's voice brings him to reality once more.

"Mr. Egerton, I do wish you had mentioned this beforehand," she is saying tightly, although her face still has that same fake, polite smile.

"Oh Katniss, please don't be cross with me; he was my gift to you. You know how much I value you my dear; I thought this change of pace would make you happy."

This time, when Katniss smiles, it is real, although not entirely happy. "That was thoughtful of you. Thank you. We enjoyed ourselves."

Cato watches awkwardly as the other man runs his hand down the side of Katniss's cheek gently. It is like he is watching a private moment that he doesn't want to see, but he can't pull away. "I could tell. It always pleases me greatly to see you satisfied my dear. Off you go now, the President still has announcements to make," Mr. Egerton says, "I will join you shortly."

Cato uses all of his self control to keep from cringing when the man leans down and kisses Katniss, even though the man must certainly know where her mouth has been all night. Katniss airily bids everyone in the room goodbye and pulls Cato out of the room, heading back to the main party. As soon as they are out of earshot of the kinky rich people, Cato shoves Katniss against the nearest wall furiously. "A gift? What the fuck was that old man talking about? I'm my own person, he can't just fucking gift me like some pet!"

She only gazes at him balefully, completely unconcerned by his show of aggression. "I know you feel like you are not in control of the situation and you would be right; you aren't. But neither am I. We belong to the Capitol now and if they so desire to gift us to each other occasionally, well, we must just go along with it. Mr. Egerton is my long time patron. A kind man, better than most."

Cato scoffs. "A kind man who likes to watch other people fuck? Please, tell me another."

Katniss pushes him away. "It has been a long time since my patron has been able to perform and please me at the same time. He cannot abide forcing me into sexual acts with him when he knows it does not please me. So he chooses younger, more able bodied men who are attractive and desirable. Watching me 'enjoy' myself with them is as good to him as the actual act."

Cato doesn't understand this fucked up shit, but who does these days? "Does he love you?"

Katniss seems to physically shrink away from the words. "I suppose he believes he does."

"So because he loves you, he decided to have you do the nasty with me because he thought it would make you happy? You despise me. That makes absolutely no sense."

There is a fragility in her now, one that he hasn't seen before and it almost bothers him to see it. Not so long ago he would have crowed with delight to see her so weak, but not now. No, he has damaged her heart enough already for a lifetime. She only confirms his thoughts by saying harshly, "No, it doesn't make any sense. Choosing you is possibly the most disgusting, offensive thing he could have ever done to me."

Cato recoils. "Wow, tell me how you really feel why don't you?"

"You killed the only man I ever loved. How do you think I should feel?" Her voice drips with venom and Cato can see the old Katniss brimming just below the surface.

There is a fire blazing in her eyes and Cato begins to understand exactly why Mr. Egerton chose him for her this night. "I think you should start to feel something aside from self pity for once and take your head out of your ass, Girl on Fire. That was years ago. Get. The. Fuck. Over. It. This is your life now."

Her face may be blank, but her eyes are fierce as they haven't been in years. "What are you trying to say, District 2?"

It is almost like a slap to the face to hear her say that. Cato almost feels like he has been sent back in time, back into the arena with her. She hasn't addressed him that way in years. He speaks slowly to keep the intrigue out of his voice. "You are here, with me. He's gone; he's been gone for years. I get that you have been suffering, but so has everyone else. Not just you. It's never just been you. All I know is that you can choose to suffer alone or you can suffer with me. It is up to you to decide which is worse."

She is silent for a moment, studying him as if she has never quite seen him before, as if he is some weird fucking object she has just discovered. Cato can tell that she is trying to come to some conclusion in her mind and he knows she has reached it when she suddenly leans against him and takes his arm, as if no argument even happened between them.

As if they weren't naked and sweating against each other just moments before in front of a whole room of people. What the fuck on that note…

"Perhaps, if we are fortunate, Mr. Egerton will be kind enough to purchase you for me again." There is a superior quality to her tone and it raises Cato's hackles instantly.

"I don't like you, Girl on Fire. This changes nothing." The vicious words are his allies and the fight is back in his voice, just the way he likes it.

"I'm quite sure I recall you enjoying yourself immensely. Unless you faked."

"I'm a man, I don't need to fake," he snaps back, flushing.

Katniss raises an eyebrow suspiciously, her eyes glittering almost maliciously. "That's not what I've heard about you."

Cato bites his tongue to keep from responding to her obvious bait. This Katniss is a shadow of the Katniss he met all those years ago, but he will take what he can get. He misses having his deadliest rival to verbally abuse. She isn't exactly the same. Who can blame her? He killed her one love or whatever the fuck Peeta Mellark was to Katniss Everdeen. What else could possibly be left of her heart after all she has suffered?

What is left of his, by the way?

"But seriously, this doesn't mean I like you," he hisses into her ear menacingly.

Her sudden laugh is like a bell, soft and clear. Her grey eyes pierce his own and an odd look that Cato can't decipher crosses her features. "I know, I don't like you much either," she breathes and her voice is like sin, causing his groin to tighten.

They stand in front of the entrance to the grand ballroom. As she turns to walk away, Cato can only remember the look that was in her eye, the look that says she is lying.

But with her, he can never be sure.

No, he can never be sure with the Girl on Fire.


:::


AN: Despite the rather...disturbing aspects of this fic, I do hope you enjoyed it. Please review if you did, you know I love to hear your thoughts!