A/N: title taken from Without You by Lana Del Rey
and all the lights mean nothing without you
This was her year, her final chance, she said, she could feel it in her blood. He didn't try to stop her or change her mind. She wouldn't have listened anyway and he quietly accepted it. They had been training for this all their lives so why not? (Except there was a different between pretending to kill and actual killing – they would both learn that though.) He pulled her body closer and closed his eyes. He wondered how the odds would favour her come the morning as Panem prepared itself for the annual Reaping.
She volunteered and was chosen as tribute. Standing on the stage with a small, confident smile, she found him easily in the crowd. Then she glanced away as the boy was presented and he knew they both thought the same thing. He was short and stocky and far stronger than her, Gloss noted, as he flexed his muscles. Not that she was worried about that. She turned and caught his eye again and a knowing look passed between the siblings: she would enjoy taking him down.
In the brief moment he had with her before she was taken off to the Capitol, possibly the last, he didn't say much. Then again neither did she. They clung to one another, her nails dug into his shoulder leaving faint marks that he would later look at. He only told her to win, to win and come back and her eyes burned with determination. Lips met swiftly before the door opened and he was led away.
They never actually said goodbye.
The Capitol loved her. Beautiful but so very deadly, it was everything they wanted. He watched her tip her head back as she laughed at one of Caesar's jokes and lightly flirted back. Her smile only disappeared when she was asked who she would miss the most. She glanced at the camera and then whispered his name.
They cooed their sympathy and he clenched his fist.
She was as vicious as she was beautiful, digging her knife into 9's side and then slashing her chest and throat. Blood dripped from Cashmere's face, her hands, everywhere she was covered in blood, dirt and God knows what else. Then she grinned as the canon sounded. Now it was just her district partner and she took him down easily as they both knew she would. For whilst he was stronger, he wasn't as quick or agile and as she delivered the final swipe of her blade across his neck, she let out a scream of victory and it was over.
He got up from his seat, ignoring the celebrations that erupted. His sister had gone into the arena but she wasn't returning. He knew that when he saw that wild look in her eyes as the camera had closed in to capture every moment of the final deathblow.
He couldn't look at her right now.
They are only truly alone once she moved into her Victor's house. It was large, too large for one person and so he stayed there with her. They threw themselves at each other, mouths desperate and hands greedy to feel, to grip and to hold. It was fast and hard, limbs entangled so much that it was impossible to say where she ended and he began. They had never done this before, tittering on an edge that had always been there but never daring to go over. But she then she leapt, uncaring of the consequences (what did it matter, after all she had done?) and he followed.
Yet this was not her, he thought as he thrust inside again and again, hearing their flesh slap and her drawn-out groans. She chanted him name over and over, a prayer for deliverance that she could only get from him.
She had changed and he wanted too as well so he could be like her, to have his eyes perceive things other might miss and to have his nights filled with dreams of the dead. Her screams terrified him and she clawed at him, half-dreaming and thinking him the ghost of a tribute she had to kill. He shook her and then her eyes widened in recognition. She didn't cry but clung onto him, her breath falling hard against his throat.
They did not talk about it come the morning. Words could not change what happened. It was just another way to tie them together.
She stood on the podium as the District 1 escort welcomed them all to the Reaping. There were more than a few eager boys and girls this year, each wanting to become a great victor much like the one that was on the stage. As the escort started with the girls, his eyes wandered back to her and over her form. He had watched her dress earlier that morning as he lay in their bed. He hadn't told her what he had decided upon since the moment she had won her Games.
It was time for the boys and he volunteered and was chosen. Up on the platform he looked out at the faces but they meant nothing at all. He looked at his female partner and she was already dead to him. He could see the blood trickling out of her mouth and eyes unseeing. He glanced at his sister then but if he wanted her to looked surprised he couldn't have been more disappointed. It was a good thing he hadn't expect that, thinking that she had already suspected his plan all along. He couldn't hide much from her.
There were a few objections raised as to if it was an unfair advantage to have his sister as his mentor and if he would get more help than his female partner but that was soon smoothed over. Cashmere would be closely monitored as she trained them. The only special treatment he got was slipping into her room at night and lying with her till dawn, thinking how close the day of his Games were. He wondered, the night after their interviews, if he would be interviewed again and then tightened his hold around her waist. Yes, he vowed, he would.
The Games were notably bloody, the slaughter at the Cornucopia being exceedingly violent. Cashmere watched carefully as he fell in with the other Careers as they set themselves up in the marshes. The whole arena was a swampland and soon it was discovered with little places around for fresh water. Finding sponsors was not difficult, he was a heartthrob and already ranked high in the bets of who would win. She smiled slightly as she saw him grin when the parachutes arrived. He would win this for her.
The Games didn't last long, it was clear when fifteen were dead in the first couple of days. He killed one boy in the marshes, suffocating him by pressing his face into the mud. She saw the change in him then, the way he looked at his hands as he staggered away from the body. His mouth was set into a grim line as the canon sounded. Someone's child was dead because of him. Now he was a killer. Now he was what they wanted him to be.
In the end it came down to him and the girl from 2. She would be his third and final kill. His spear lodged deeply in her chest as he impaled her further in their struggle. As she choked on her own blood, he slit her throat. That was kind, Cashmere thought as the last canon went off and then it was done. All around her people cheered; well, those who weren't with the other tributes. She glanced at Enobaria who glared at her but she didn't care. She looked back at her brother, the Victor, and she laughed.
His first night back with her, she didn't sleep. She stayed awake and watched him, guarded him and held him when he screamed. He was just like her now, howling at ghostly faces that appeared to him.
"I'm here," she whispered as he reached for her. "I'm here."
She could feel his body shaking as she carefully re-positioned herself above him, straddling his waist. She leaned over him kissing his cheeks, his brow, over his closed eyes and finally his lips. She could have wept then at the sight of him, her beloved and ever-strong brother, trembling in utter fear. His kisses back were hungry and hard, desire raw and needy as he pushed her down onto her back.
"Brother, my brother," she breathed by his ear as she took him inside of her. "I'm here, I won't leave you."
He nodded wordlessly, accepting her words and trusting her to fight off his demons the same way he fought of hers. Spent and exhausted, he curled up around her still holding on tightly. She brushed back his hair, softly murmuring things till he fell asleep and then she waited for the morning to come.
They were back in the Capitol soon enough and as sibling Victors they were amongst the top favourites ever to have won. It was strange at first with the adoring fans, constant interviews and photos but after a while they learnt how to play the game. The Capitol was not so very different from the arena except the fighting here relied on carefully thought out words or actions that allowed for people to climb up the social ladders. Everyone hungered and craved whilst they hid behind sweet smiles and soft words.
But it was only those who could pay the top prices that could devour the most desirous of all. A Victor.
Letters came, two identical ones each signed and stamped by the President's personal seal. She stared at the words then looked up to see Gloss watching her. She knew she was foolish to think he would be spared this – the Capitol was enthralled with him after all. She handed him his letter and now it was her turn to watch him as he read it.
It was a letter telling them they had been sold – for a night – to the highest bidders. He swung his gaze up horrified to her as she looked sadly on.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
She dropped his gaze and moved around the penthouse they lived in. looking out of the window she could see far across the city, coloured dots racing around the place. She pressed her palm against the glass.
"I couldn't," she murmured, absently tracing circles. "It was only once."
He clenched the letter in his fist tasting bile in the back of his throat.
Guards were sent later in the evening, taking them to different locations. They gave him a pill to take and told him they would collect him after his time was up. The couple hid behind gaudy masks the whole time and he was only thankful that they kept the lights low. He didn't want to see too much of them as he kept himself still when mouths and hands reached and pressed upon him. He did not want to think how his sister was, what she could be enduring. They were not allowed to harm the Victors in any way, that much was clearly stated, but everything else was down to the individuals to do what they willed.
They seemed pleased by the end of the session – "oh, he was worth the money" - and the guards retrieved him and took him back. It was nearly one in the morning before she was returned. He had showered, scrubbing intensely at his body, and waited. She avoided his eyes and washed herself before going to bed, her body still wet from where she hadn't bothered to dry off. He lay down by her, close but not touching. The impressions of those nameless others were still there so he did not hate her for curling up away from him as he stared at the ceiling till his eyes stung.
Their faces were expressionless as they saw the money in their accounts the next morning. Not the whole sum, some of that had gone into other pockets, but a lot all the same.
"Fancy a new necklace?"
They burned through most of the money that day and around her neck, the heavy diamonds sparkled as they caught the sunlight.
Both of their names are drawn as they knew they would be. They were not fools, they knew things were changing, shifts from within. They had both watched the Girl on Fire defy the Capitol and spark little fires around. Tongues loosened by sex and wine had also given way to concerns raised by officials – the kind that often hired them – and they listened carefully.
They looked at the others, some of them they would even class as friends. Brutus gave them a nod and Enobaria flashed them a smile displaying her razor-sharp teeth. Even Finnick gave them a wary glance before he closed in on the little firebird.
The crowds applauded them, cried over them. Oh how terrible, they sighed, siblings turned to rivals. They both ignored the question of what would happen if they were the final two, though they had an answer.
If you die, I die too.
They could not be apart. They never could be.
They were approached; a chance to rebel, to live without the noose of the Capitol around their necks but they refused. They were creatures bred by the Capitol and they would not survive in a new world order.
"Ready?" She asked glancing at him as he stood by her side.
"Always," he replied and she smiled slightly. "See you on the other side."
He was led off to a separate chamber from her and soon the countdown started before it was time to face an inevitable end.
A/N: finally finished this after months - hell, a year. Reviews are greatly welcomed.