Thanks to Oriondruid for reviewing!
It seemed to Clove that the wait on the doorstep took forever. She had almost made up her mind to turn around on the spot when the door opened. She supposed that the boy who stood there was good-looking. If she had to wager a guess, Clove would have said he was a football player – probably a quarterback, if the size of his arms was anything to go by. Still, Clove had been around enough cocky and arrogant people to know that this boy was both.
He flashed Katniss a crooked smile, but Clove could see something in his eyes that told her there was a story there, a history.
"Cato." Clove had heard her cousin use that tone on several occasions since their arrival in Massachusetts, but never with anyone but her.
"Katniss," Cato responded in the same clipped tone, the crooked smile disappearing.
Clove barely had time to ponder what had happened between the two of them before Cato stood aside to let them in. Katniss pushed past him, not even sparing a glance. Before Clove could follow her cousin, Cato stepped in front of her, blocking her path.
"Who's the new girl?"
Clove rolled her eyes. She had seen his kind before – always more interested in checking her out than getting to know her. But Cato's eyes stayed on her face, and he seemed genuinely curious. Still, she had a reputation to protect, so she just smirked at him.
"What's it to you?" Clove thought the question and tone of voice spoke for themselves, but Cato just laughed. She had another snarky comeback armed and ready when her stupid cousin had to ruin it.
"Clove, come on!" Over Cato's shoulder, Clove could see Katniss at the end of the hall, annoyance written all over her face. Cato smirked.
"Yeah, Clover, let's go," he said. Clove ignored the innuendo, instead choosing to push past him down the hall, leaving the boy standing in the open doorway.
"Well, look who it is." The girl who spoke reminded Clove of a Barbie doll – tall, blond, and tan. She might have been pretty, but the disgusted curl of her lip when she looked at Katniss ruined the image. Perched on the end of a deck lounge chair, she was clad in a red bikini, but Clove doubted she'd get anywhere near the pool.
Katniss had that unhappy look on her face, and for the first time Clove wondered it was just about her. Still, she had other things to do than worry about her cousin's social life. Namely, the group of people currently scattered around the pool.
To her credit, Katniss didn't look bothered by Barbie's comment. Instead, she glanced around at the group, all of whom were staring at Clove.
"Everybody, this is Clove. My cousin."
Clove had never considered herself a shy person – she was simply not a people person. But as the afternoon wore on, she began to get tired of all the stares. She had always had an eye for looking around a room (or backyard) and seeing all the exits, and that afternoon was no different. Still, she was surprised when the red-haired girl found her – she had thought the chair was pushed far enough into the shadows that no one would see her.
The girl plopped down on the chair next to her, and Clove gave her the typical once-over. In a way, she reminded Clove of herself – small in build, but with a certain agility and strength underneath the misleading size. If Clove had to pick, she'd say the girl was a runner, yet another thing they had in common.
They sat there for a while, not speaking. Just when Clove was getting used to the silence, the girl spoke.
"So you're the new girl from California. The football player's daughter," she said, not looking at Clove. It wasn't a question, but Clove found herself nodding anyway. She didn't know how this girl knew who her dad was, but that didn't really matter. Clove had been around long enough to know that there were people who knew things. They had their sources, and it was best not to question. Clove would know. She used to be one of them.
Back in California, Clove had considered herself to be in the middle of the social ladder. She wasn't the most popular girl, but she also wasn't the least. She was the girl people came to when they needed information – often incriminating. Clove had to wonder if things worked the same in all high schools, or if that kind of behavior was exclusive to schools where a significant portion of the student body came from money. Even if it was, she supposed that her new school would be the same – Panem High School was, after all, in a particularly wealthy part of Boston.
One look at the redhead beside her told Clove all she needed to know – this girl was in the same position Clove had been in California. Even though she hadn't planned on making friends in Boston, Clove found herself wondering if she needed to rethink that decision. This girl could be a very useful ally.
Three guesses who Clove's new semi-friend is, and the first two don't count. :)
Hopefully I'll have the next chapter (or two) up soon. Spoiler - we'll get a who's who of the group at the party, given by our favorite redhead.