Thank you so so much for all your lovely reviews! I really appreciate them, I really really do. I know I said that I would update earlier but I had lots of stuff going on this week. I know I suck for keeping all of you waiting but my cousin bro had come to visit me after 8 months so sitting and typing on the laptop wasn't exactly the best way of showing how much I missed him AND I badly wanted to post a long chapter so here it is. I hope you guys understand .I know Katniss 'thinks' a lot in this one but believe me it has action later on in the chapter
I hope this question is not too awkward but I just have to ask. Don't any of you guys wonder how the tributes pee in the arena? I mean, they just have to pee, I remember my science teacher telling us that the maximum time a human can stay without peeing is 9 hours or something, and the games last at least 2 weeks. They can't have portable toilets in the arena right? Cuz if they did, any smart tribute would just hide at the back and then wait ( I know I would do that) as everyone will come there one time or another. That's means they have to pee in the woods right? But the game makers have these tiny cameras installed everywhere and they telecast whatever happens live to the audience right? Isn't that gross? If I am reaped to participate in the hunger games then my biggest concern won't be killing other teenagers, it would be peeing in the open.
Enough of my nonsense babbles, here's the next chapter
"And breakfast is served" I say as I place the rabbit I had caught this morning on the makeshift plate of leaves in front of Rue. I am not wiz at snares like Gale is but I am not that bad either.
It has been four days since our unexpected alliance was formed and surprisingly, it has been going on pretty well. Except for our initial differences and fights, we have had no trouble getting along. Although I still don't trust Marissa …but then to think of it, I don't trust anyone. Maybe except Rue. She was to small and innocent to be corrupted into betraying me, especially after the 'incident' at the training center. I find myself mentally thanking that district 1 career; it was because of him I had found an ally that I could actually rely on.
I think about both the alliances. How drastically different our alliances is from the Careers. They reminded of wolves, with Cato as their alpha and the rest of them as the lapdogs. Only Clove was defiant enough to stand up to him, maybe it was because they knew each other before the games. The thought of Cato and Clove outside their 'hunger games side' is intriguing, too bad I will never find out. We were more like a family, I was the father who bought the meat and food; Marissa was the mother who bought home wild berries and plants while Rue was the little baby who helped us along. I doubt that Marissa and I would have restrained killing each other if it wasn't for rue.
"You can have my leg if you want" I pass my piece to her
She looks at me like I have offered not a piece of meat but both of my kidneys
"Are you sure?"
"Just take it" I thrust my piece in her hand, leaving her no option but to accept
"Thanks, I have never had a whole piece all to myself before" her eyes gleaming with happiness as she looks up to me and smile. I return the smile without hesitation, something that usually takes me a while to do.
"Here's all I've got today" says Marissa, dropping a shower of multicolor berries ranging from blood red to deep, dark blue. The thought that she might bring poisonous berries creeps into my mind but I dismiss it before my suspicions become a problem. She might kill me in coldblood but not rue. It might not be a big task to kill her as a stranger but once you get to know her… let's just says you would require a heart of stone to do it.
"Is it true?" rue asks in a curious voice
I look at her with a big question mark written on my face even though I have a vague idea about what she means
"You and him" she says in a mischievous voice but before I answer, Marissa does
"I personally think that it is a commendable tactic to acquire sponsors. Everyone would love the doomed, star-crossed lovers from an outline district like 12. It is, after all a reality TV show. Now, whether this is just a pretense or veracity is a far more contentious, scandalous and complicated matter. Katniss is Katniss, predicting her action is like trying to pass electricity through cables without even switching on the main power switch – completely ridiculous and futile. While on the other hand, Peeta, the other district 12 tribute has played his part of a simple boy who is hopelessly in love with a girl who neither deserves him nor notices him, quite exceptionally. What to believe and what not to is left to our dear capitol audience. Whatever the case may be, it doesn't affect our predetermined decisions".
Both of us just stare blankly at her, trying to comprehend what she just said. Then the realization hits me, she was actually trying to help me. She had an aptitude for reading peoples body language. I am capable of hiding my uneasiness but Marissa had somehow seen through. Her twisted answer wasn't really an answer at all but somehow it satisfied Rue's question at the same time. I wish I had paid more attention to her interview now. She lifts the corners of her mouth to form a slight smile, I just nod at her. It wasn't much but it was my way of telling thank you.
"Precisely" I reply
We just eat our meal in peace until Rue decides to break the ice again.
"Can we go out today?" Marissa and I exchange glances. 'Out' was the last place I wanted to go, 'out' meant the other tributes and leaving out little hideout. I understand that Rue has been longing to get out, to climb trees and swing on their branches and live freely instead of hiding. But chances are that once we go out, we may to live at all. But once again, Marissa speaks up before I do and this time I do NOT appreciate it
"Okay, we'll leave just as soon as we finish the berries"
"No we will not". With only two knives and nothing else, fighting was not an option.
"C'mon Katniss, a little outgoing couldn't possibly hurt" Marissa nudges me and says
"Yeah Katniss! Please?" Rue pleads. I know I am being overruled and there is nothing I can say but
"I'll just get my knife ready"
"We need to talk" Clove grabs my arm and pulls me back. The rest of the pack, including lover boy stop and look at us, like they are waiting for us to say something or should I say waiting for me to say something.
"You guys go on. We'll catch up" I say dismissing them but they still don't move
"Are you sure?" says Glimmer, battling her eyelashes. Yeah right, like that's going to make me change my decision.
"Yes, now go before I have to make you" I say through my gritted teeth. That girl just gets on my nerves sometimes. If she wasn't a career and wasn't so hot, she wouldn't have made it this far.
Marvel has to tug her arm to make her move while lover boy just follows them like a puppy. I turn back to an angry Clove who looks like she could murder me right now
"What?" I ask in a bored and fed up voice
"What? You are asking me what?" she says like she doesn't believe what I just said. Her words are followed by a maniac laugh which gives me a hint that everything is definitely not right. "I'll tell you what! What is wrong with you? What are you even thinking? We should kill loverboy before he becomes a problem!" she says angrily. I stifle a laugh. She was pretty tall for her age but only reached till my chest. It was actually an amusing sight, her trying to scold me but I know laughing at her would make her madder. So I just put on a straight face try to reason with her.
"Oh c'mon clove, he's our best chance of finding her plus he's pretty handy with that knife. And do you really think I am stupid enough to let him become a problem?" I reply, trying my best to keep my voice casual.
"WHY are you so obsessed with her? And you aren't being very smart lately! Leaving out supplies unguarded and taking lover boy in the alliance aren't really smart moves."
"I am NOT obsessed with her; I am obsessed with killing her. And our supplies aren't unguarded anymore, district 3 has activated the mines remember? As for lover boy, we'll dispose him off soon."
"Do you think I don't want her dead? I think you have forgotten that I was the one who was affronted in front of everyone while you were the one who was supporting her that time. But I am not the one who is going around like a crazy killing machine with no brains; I am the one who is waiting for a right opportunity to finish her off. As for District 3, I was the one who spotted him so the credit goes to me"
"Hey! I am smart and nearly as good as you at making evil schemes. You said so yourself! And you don't get any credit for district 3! You were hell bent on killing him!"
"That is when you are cool, calm and collected and right now you are nowhere near composed. "
"Whatever, But we are not going to stop until we find that firebitch" I snap
"Can't you just leave it? She may die because of natural causes too, these are the HUNGER games. Plus, she doesn't have her bow and arrow which makes her as good as Marvel without his spear."
Clove was right; Marvel was helpless without his spear. I doubt he could kill anyone without it, unless it was possible to die because of excessive laughing. She was right about one more thing, I was pretty messed up right now.
"Look, I am sorry okay? I am pretty messed up right now." I admit. She looks shocked at my sudden apology and moves back.
"Who are you and what have you done with Cato? Cause the Cato I know will never ever accept his mistake, no matter how obvious it is and we never apologize to me on national TV" she breaks in to a smile as she says the last part. She is like a sister I have never had, we were arguing one minute and now both of us were grinning at each other.
I put my arm around her neck and say
"We better get going now, and for the record we are still going to be hunting that district 12 rat down" She just glares at me but finally agrees by saying
"If one of us gets killed in this, I am so gonna kill you"
"You have my permission"
"I don't need it"
"What took you so long?" Marvel questions. Both of us that caught up to them too easily, I don't know if they moved slowly on purpose or it was there average speed. In any case, It was disappointing.
"Nothing, just small talk" Clove answers and then looks up to me and asks "where are we supposed go now?"
"Don't know, we'll just go straight I guess" I shrug
"I don't think this is a good idea, I've got a bad feeling about this" lover boy mummers
"If you've got a bad feeling about this then maybe we have a good chance of finding your lover girl" I smirk
Turns out I was right, cause right in front of us was fire girl. Sitting in a little pond, relief flooding over her face but then she sees us and her calmed expression is quickly changed to a panic-stricken and terrified one.
I look at the varied expressions of my allies, Glimmer and Marvel's face reflected pure delight, lover boy's face is a mix of dread and worry- typical, and Clove is blood thirsty, vicious and sadistic. She had not seen fresh blood in the last two days.
"No one touch her! She's mine!" Glimmer giggles and says
"Not if I get her first!" I was too excited by the sight of that upstart firegirl to get annoyed by Glimmer's silly giggle.
RUN!Survive! Escape! These are the only things running in my mind. Ok, that's not true, there are other things going in my mind too. Like how it was my fault, my ignorance that Rue and Marissa were probably laying around somewhere, possibly dead or badly injured. Like how that backstabbing bastard Peeta had betrayed me, how he teamed up with the Careers who he once despised. And how I could be dead in less than a minute if I didn't keep running.
The burn of my leg was throbbing with pain, the cold water had somehow numbed it for a moment or two but it had been rejuvenated the moment I had stepped out. There are moments, when I feel I should just stop running and wait for my death, just give up. But the image of a sobbing prim comes to mind, I had promised her I would do my best to win. A image of Gale, telling me I was strong enough to win, making me believe that I actually had a chance. These are the things that keep me going. Somehow, these memories make ignoring the unbearable stinging in my leg
But after a while, I realize that running isn't the answer. I hear someone sneer "You can't keep running from us forever firegirl! You will have to stop and when you do, we'll come and kill you". Sadly, the person was right. Soon fatigue and exhaustion will take over me and then there will be no option for me but to beg or pray for a quick, torture free death. I see a strong and tall tree to my left.
I climb it without any second thought; it was not like I had another option anyway. I am almost 20 feet up when the careers reach its trunk. They keep on sneering and jeering, saying things like " the trees not gonna save you Katniss" but I don't mind. They maybe stronger than me but no doubt they are heavier too. The tree is strong but not strong enough to bear the weight of a career and me. There still maybe hope.
I smile at them and say "How's the weather down there?" Glimmer, Marvel, Clove and my dear backstabbing district partner –Peeta look stunned but Cato looks at me with unwavering determination.
"It's been fine for us but I guess a bit too warm for your liking. Isn't that the reason you scaled up the tree?" he replies
"Yes, that and a pack of wild dogs were hunting me down. Have you seen them?"
"No, but don't worry. We'll finish them off just as soon as we finish you" and with that, he starts climbing. I begin to panic again, I had relied on the odds that the careers didn't know how to climb trees or were too heavy to do so. But what were the odds of me falling down from the tree that night? What were the odds of Cato being down of all the people in the arena? What were the odds of him letting me live? What were the odds of Rue finding me when I was practically helpless? Next to none. If the hunger games have taught me anything till now, it was – NEVER rely on the odds.
I climb the tree blindly till I am almost 80 feet in the air. I know very well that climbing any higher would result in me falling off to my death or worse paralyzing me which would result in a more painful and excruciating *drum rolls* death but if I didn't move and Cato managed to climb up, I would be dead. I am dead anyway. So why not just watch the show?
I am preparing to say my last words when I hear a loud thud.
"Cato!" I cry, the damned word leave my lips before I have the chance to choke it down. I sound…worried. I am in the spotlight now; I can almost feel the eyes of the whole Panem on me right now, not to forget the careers down who are looking at me like I said something shocking. I guess I did.
"Why don't you try throwing your sword instead?" I say. It is a really lame attempt to fix my folly but it was the first thing that came to my mind. Peeta was looking at me like I had gone senile at 16; Clove was looking at me like her suspicions of me being senile at 16 were true while the rest of them were looking at me like I had lost my mind. Maybe I had
It is Glimmer who reacts first. She just rolls her eyes and says "I'll do it myself". She tries to aim an arrow at me but it misses by inches. After two more stray arrows Cato snatches the weapon from her hands and aims it at me.
He was competent with every weapon I had seen him with. I close my eyes and say a silent prayer and wait for an arrow to pierce me, wait for the time when I lose my senses and fall, wait for the world around me to go blank…but it never comes. Instead I find an arrow sticking out of the tree, about six inches far from me. I grab the arrow and swing it mockingly over them, aggravating them even more.
I hear them discussing them vigorously, I was too high up for Clove's knives to reach me, Marvel's spear was too heavy, and none of them were experienced in using a bow. Cato's sword, dagger, machete etc were useless while Peeta was inept in everything except throwing weights around. Thus, I was perfectly safe.
Just when I am savoring the joy that I wouldn't be killed, that traitor Peeta speaks up
"Why don't we just wait? She has to come down onetime; it's that or starve to death. We'll get her then. It's not like she's going anywhere." as much as I wanted to strangle him, he was right. I was stuck here, and apparently too caught up in trying to live than think of the consequences. Cato looks up at me and then thrusts the bow in glimmer's hand and reluctantly says
"Fine, someone start a fire" at first I find it odd, isn't starting a fire the stupidest thing ever? Anyone could hunt you down. But then it occurs to me, they didn't have anything to be scared of, the other tributes were too busy staying alive to risk their life going hunting and looking for trouble. What would happen if people just change their attitude about the careers? Treat them like normal competition instead of a bunch of deadly guys who are most likely to win, give them a reason to be scared. What was their biggest worry? They wouldn't kill enough people to bring true pride to their district? I just wanted someone to show them that they don't 'rule' the arena
I shake my head and dismiss the idea, it's not like I could do anything about it. I was helplessly trapped in a tree with nothing but I knife to defend me against 4 careers, Peeta and a dozen of weapons.
Today was a rough day. I was separated from my allies, dodged fireball and trees falling on me and then hunted down by the careers and now I am stuck in a tree. I bang my hands on my thighs in frustration, forgetting that I had got burnt. I scream in pain, making the Careers and Peeta turn their attention from their food towards me.
"What? Mind your own business people! Staring is rude!" I snap. It is dark and too dimly lit for me to see their expression but I am sure they must be wondering what is wrong with me. I am wondering that too. I have heard my mother say that traumatic experiences sometimes made people go hysterically mental. I could just hope that everything would be fine in the morning. Meanwhile I had other things to worry about like my burn which felt like it was on fire. My mind must not be working right due to exhaustion because I dip an end of my clothes in water and squeeze it on the burn due to the fact that water pacifies fire. How stupid was that? It takes all my will power no to shriek, I honestly couldn't afford more attention. I knew my face must on at least half the screens of Panem. The pained expression my face and my injury must be some kind of special entertainment for the capitol
I look in the sky and hope that Haymitch is sane enough to send me some kind of high-tech medicine right now. Did I have sponsors? I must, with a blazing entry at the parade, an almost unattainable score of eleven and the whole 'star-crossed lovers' act, alteast some of the people would sponsor me. Hadn't I kept them entertained? My pain was capitols pleasure and till now I had experienced nothing but pain except for the few times with rue and Marissa. Even the thought of them makes me feel guilty.
Luckily, the burn medicine arrives and I apply it as quickly as possible. An instant feeling of relief and coolness floods over me and I wish it never leaves. I feel dizzy and my head starts spinning. Must be the side effects of the medicine I think. Whatever it is, I begin to drift off, hoping that my dreams won't be as devastating as my life.
But when does anything I hope for come true?
Any guesses about what Katniss dreams?(hint: it's not prim or anything related to district 12)
I know I told you guys that this chapter will be full of action and it was! But the complete chapter was more than 7,000 words and that was TOO long. So as you can tell, I have the next chapter written but when I upload it depends upon your reviews ;P
I know that Katniss is a lot sassier and less ' I hate the world and all the people in it except Prim because she is my sister and Rue because she reminds me of Prim" cuz honestly, I found the latter Katniss kinda annoying. I was actually telling her "Chill Dude! Why so serious?" along the books sometimes. Ok, I know being in a dystopian series is hard but why do you have to hate everyone? ( it's not like I hate Katniss, she is one of my top 5 characters) .
Spoiler for the next chapter- it includes a memory of Cato's past…what it is, you have to wait and find out. :D
Review, PM, Follow, Fav- anything is ok, I just want FEEDBACK so I can improve my writing. Pls don't be like a silent owl only watches but never speaks
P.S – this chapter is long and my eyes are sore from sitting in front of the computer screen since morning so I am REALLY SORRY that I didn't proof-read the chapter. I badly wanted to update this chapter fast!.