He should be planning her death, but he isn't. He should be working on a way to outsmart her, but he isn't. He shouldn't be watching her clean her knives and use lizards for target practice, and he definitely shouldn't be thinking about the sort-of promise he made to himself earlier. If he isn't planning her demise, he shouldn't be thinking about her at all, especially not here. But he is.

She seems at home here, and he grudgingly admits that he almost finds it attractive. She comes alive in the Arena like nowhere else, sending his mind in directions it should not be going, considering they're preparing to fight each other to the death.


Sometimes he wonders what could have been. If she hadn't been Reaped, if someone had volunteered, if he had never met her in the first place. But he knows he doesn't really mean it. He'd never reverse meeting her, even if he never admits it to anyone.

He knows the tributes from One and Four are pathetic, but even he is surprised by how long they don't last. Blondie and fisher-girl have the nerve to disgrace their districts by succumbing to the tracker-jackers, but not them. They are strong. He even finds the strength to hunt Lover Boy and give him what will surely be a fatal blow. Only it's not.


Lover Boy's face doesn't appear in the sky, and tensions run high. He's ready to kick Blondie's arrogant idiot of a district partner out of the Alliance permanently when they see the smoke. They don't find anything, of course. He's just registered that the joke is on them when they hear the mines go off.

He had told District Three that he would pay if his mines didn't work, and he meant it. He's blinded by rage and frustration and a mad desire to get out of there. They never told him that the Arena drives you crazy while you're still in it, and he barely notices Three crumpling to the ground beneath him.

Then she's there and he's back to normal again. That scares him, because they are enemies and he can't trust her. Still, he lets her dig her fingernails into his arm, and doesn't protest when she grabs his wrist and drags him back to the camp to wait for the death recap.


He'll never admit it, but the death recap scares him. It's not the faces, those eyes that will never see their homes again. It's the numbers. Because every cannon is one less until the end. And even though he wants to get out, he doesn't want to have to face her. He knows he can beat her – that's not the issue. He's just not sure if he really wants to.

Does he want to be the one to drain the light out of those eyes? Does he want her name on his kill list, her blood on his hands? As much as he hates it, he knows the answer is no. He's as ready to die for her as he was the day of the bloodbath, and it still scares him.


Before he knows it District One is dead, along with the little girl from Eleven, and there are only six of them left. He's been putting it off, but he knows he has to break the Alliance soon. If he doesn't now then he never will. And maybe someone else will kill her before he has to.

After laughing to himself at the idea of that happening, he tries to ignore the thought that he doesn't want it to. And he realizes that he still feels the same. He doesn't want her to die. It still scares him, but he's kind of gotten used to it now.


Once he's over the shock (since when are there rules to the Games?), all he feels is relief. He isn't sure what that says about him, but he's certain he doesn't want to know. But he is relieved. He doesn't have to kill her. No one has to kill her. She doesn't have to die.

If he's honest with himself, she never would have. He would have made sure of that.