Sorry and, just for future notice, sorry again because I'm sure the next one will be just as late.
Again, I'm sorry but I hope you enjoy, even though the chapter's short.
We're in a tree, sitting on the highest branches we could sit on in the tree, Percy underneath me because I am small enough to sit in the thinner branches higher above. Once we heard the whooping of the Careers, we ran as fast as we could. The ointment for the burns must've done wonders for Percy because he ran like he did without the burn, almost like if it wasn't there.
My eyes wander from the Careers to his bicep in curiosity. I wonder how he managed to climb almost as quickly as I could with that pierced bicep of his.
"Hello, miners," Cato, the boy from 2, calls up to us, a manic grin on his face. I almost cringe at the name, knowing that that's basically all we are to them, despite our fiery entrance in the chariots. "How's it going up there?"
"It's actually quite nice," Percy retorts in a strained voice, his breaths coming in heavy pants.
I smile at what he's playing at. "Yeah, you should come up here. The air is quite fresh."
The Careers' heads jerk back, as if surprised that we actually responded and I could almost hear the guffaws of the Capitol. I smile, looking down at Percy to see his wide grin on the Careers, daring them to climb on up. I doubt that the Careers have every climbed an actual tree in their life. The most that they've probably climbed is a pole with various outstretching pieces.
"Oh, maybe I should. Should I go up there guys?" Cato questions, looking to the other Careers with a wide grin. The others cheer him on. The boy from 1, Marvel, steps up.
"No, let me. I'd like to catch myself a miner," he says, his eyes wandering over to me, giving me a pointed smirk.
"Yeah, get that bow for me, Marvel," Glimmer—I scoff at the District 1 name, so ridiculous—says with a laugh.
Soon, the name Marvel is being cheered by the small group. I almost want to smirk. I take my bow in hand when I see Marvel begin to scale up the tree, his hand reaching for a thick branch. I almost want to groan. The branches on this tree are incredibly strong and easy to scale, explains why I'm up so high. I almost wouldn't worry about them since my small size allows me to climb twenty extra meters once the branches begin to thin. Percy is exactly twenty meters away from me. Now, I must say that Percy is not a small boy. He's almost as big as Gale and Marvel, though tall and stealthy, is lean and obviously light. He'd be able to reach Percy and go up farther if he finishes him off, but I highly doubt that. Percy is perfectly capable of defending himself and more than competent with attacking.
Once Marvel is a few feet off the ground, he looks back down at the rest.
"Hey, can you give me the sword?" he questions. Cato tilts his head.
"No, this is my sword. You had the spear," he says.
Marvel shakes his head. "Just give me the damn sword. It's more lethal."
Cato, with much despite, tosses the sword to Marvel, who catches it by the hilt, holding it while he scales the tree. He smiles manically, laughing as he climbs another meter, quickly catching up to Percy.
"I'm comin', Waterboy. I'm gonna kill you," he says.
I cringe, turning away, expecting the boy to have a dagger in his head in less than a second. Percy likes to keep some of his knives in his belt for situations like this when he'd need to make a quick grab for one, like he does now. I soon hear the quick sound of a knife whizzing through the air but then the sound of metal scraping against each other and then screams of protest. I furrow my brows, looking back at the scene. Marvel has a shocked look on his face, his sword held up in front of his face protectively.
"Huh, so that's what got you that score," Cato calls. "Clove would've beat your ass."
I could practically hear smoke coming out of Percy's ears. "Oh, and where is she now?"
Cato's face is a shade darker than a tomato as he hastily reaches for the spear in the boy from 6's hand and then throws it toward Percy, missing him so pathetically that it shows that he's clearly incompetent with a spear.
"Do it again, I think you missed," Percy says, making me want to snicker. I smile, shaking my head and pressing my forehead against the tree's trunk. Oh, what a show the Capitol must have!
"Huh, seems like I did. Go, get 'im Marvel!" Cato cheers, causing another uproar of cheers to spread throughout the small clique.
I look down to see Marvel barely three feet from Percy's feet, his sword drawn and prepared to attack even his feet. Percy's sea-green eyes look up to me, questioning.
"C'mon, climb higher," I tell him, beginning to scale the tree higher.
Percy climbs up after me. We climb until the sounds of the branches creaking in protest begin to make us worry and then we stop to see Marvel quickly catching up.
"You're dead, Waterboy!" he says.
I expect Percy to throw another knife. I expect him to climb higher senselessly. But that would have more sense than what he does.
He drops down to Marvel's level in less than a second, sending a hard punch to his jaw and grappling for the sword with one hand. They wrestle for the blade, the damn saber coming all too closely to Percy's head, making me scream in protest when Marvel jerked his hand in a desperate attempt to yank the saber out of Percy's grasp but Percy eventually regained control over the small grappling and then he sends a punch to Marvel's midsection, making him groan and almost lose his grip on the tree. I look at the look on Marvel's face, seeing his expression full of anger and, what I'm sure is an act of pure rage, he pushes the hand that grapples with Percy's, making the edge of the blade push into Percy's face just enough to draw blood. I shout and there are cheers from the Careers. Percy's face is scrunched up in pain, his eyes squeezed shut while blood drips from his brow to his eyes and suddenly Marvel is flying off the tree, Percy's leg outstretched and the blade finally in his grip, his own grip. He kicked Marvel off.
Marvel lands on his arm, giving out a cry of pain, writhing on the ground. He rolls to his back. His arm is bend at an awkward angle.
Cato dashes to the base of the tree, roaring as he attempts to scale up the tree. Soon, he's flailing down to the ground, landing on his back. I look down hopefully, desperately wanting him to have his arm broken just as Marvel's, possibly worse.
Percy then drops down to the ground, landing on his feet agilely. He then goes at slicing his way around the Careers. I look at all his victims, finding that he simply injured them, didn't kill them. I almost feel disappointed. It would mean less competition.
When I see Glimmer lingering behind Percy, him busy, fending off the girl from 3 with her electrical spear, and then I notice her long, curving blade held tightly in her hand, edging closer to him. I feel my face turn a shade darker. I quickly make my way down the tree, nimbly climbing down the branches. Biting my lip, I see Glimmer get closer and closer to Percy I'm not going to make it down the tree by the time that she decides to lash out. When I'm seven feet away from the base, she's too close for comfort.
Taking my bow in hand, I aim for her head. I prepare to let it loose when I suddenly get a sick feeling in my stomach. I hesitate, watching as Glimmer nears Percy as he manages to deflect a jab from the girl and the stolen machete from Cato.
I change my aim to the space exactly in front of her nose and let the arrow loose. It whizzes right by her nose. She jumps, crying out and looking at me. A red dot sits on her nose. I managed to nick it, drawing blood.
I stand my ground against her glare, sure that my expression sends the message that that was a warning. She sneers. I huff out a breath, dropping down to the ground, in front of her. I stand in front of Glimmer, immediately training an arrow onto her. A scream and a shout from Percy's direction draws my attention for a split second. I see the girl from 3 drop to her knees, holding her arm as blood seeps from between her fingers and Cato gives Percy a death glare. Percy trains the point of the sword to Cato in a warning manner and I make my way to him, both Glimmer and I circling around each other until I stand back-to-back to Percy. I suddenly see Glimmer move to Cato, her eyes never leaving mine. They're full of hate and spite and her eyes are still on me when she whispers something close to Cato's ear.
Cato relaxes, his eyes still angry but he steps back, a clear sign of surrender. Both Percy and I send each other a questioning glance, as if considering this. Both our weapons are still trained on the two. We give each other one last look before dashing away into the woods. Looking back, I see Cato throw a fit, stomping on the ground and shouting angrily while Glimmer shouts something uncomprehendable to him until they're both silent as they look at the others.
I turn back to see that we're heading in the direction of the pond with surrounding boulders. We reach the brook of the lake and Percy and I look at each other. Before I know it, we're both smiling, snickers coming from the both of us. The laughs are ridden with insanity and I can't imagine why I'm laughing at the moment. Maybe it's because we actually survived an encounter with the Careers. I feel my laughs die down. Only minutes ago, I would've thought that the reason of my death would be because of an encounter with the Careers similar to this. Never would the thought of surviving an encounter with them have wandered into my mind. Soon, the feel of Percy's arms around me startles me but with the strange buzzing in my blood at the thought of surviving such a thing, I don't mind. I hug him back, my cheek pressing against his shoulder as his chin rests on my head. I feel my feet lift from the ground as he lets out a small sound of victory.
"We did it!" he whispers in astonishment. "We did it, we actually did it!"
Smiling I nod in agreement. "Yes, we did."
He pulls back and I look up at him, my smile soon fading. Red trails down his nose and over his left eye. I cringe when I see that his eye is actually red because some blood managed to get into it. The cut starts just above his brow and ends at the middle of his upper lip on the right side. It cuts diagonally across his face.
I grimace at it, my fingers finding their way to the cut across his nose. "We did it…" I trail off.
He smirks but I notice an extremely faint—almost nonexistent—wince as the muscle where the cut sits on his upper lip moves. "…but not without a few scrapes."
Looking around, I suddenly realize where we are and I pull out of his arms, which loosely hung onto my waist. They fall away as he looks around also. The feeling of someone watching us makes shivers go down my back. Suddenly, the sound of a cannon startles me. Trembling, I lightly mouth 'one' to myself. Then another. Then another. Then another.
Thinking back to the group of Careers, there were six of them. Cato and Glimmer were the only ones standing and practically unscathed.
Shaking my head, I look up at Percy. He looks down at me, his face grim. "Probably thought about lightening the load."
I nod. It would make sense. They all would be just extra mouths to feed and useless to the two Careers injured. It would benefit them if they were rid of them already. Looking back at Percy, I bite the inside of my lip.
"We should get moving," I tell him.
He nods, bringing out a torn part of his shirt that we've used for a rag and dipping it into the water, squeezing excess water until the rag is just lightly dampened and pressing it to his face. After wincing momentarily, he has a look of relief and we walk through the dense woods as he cleans the blood from his face and the cut. Now he spreads the rapid healing ointment that he has in his pack and the cut has reduced to scabs that sit across his face.
After walking for what seems hours, we find a small cave fit perfectly for two tributes looking for hiding. It's about four feet high with a width of five feet. On the inside it was at least five feet high inside and a comfortable width of eight feet. I smirk. It almost seems too perfect.
"How about we both go looking for branches and bring them back to cover it from prying eyes?" Percy asks.
Smiling, I nod. We separate ways and I search for branches with a flurry of leaves. Gathering them and holding my bow into a position that would allow me to make a quick drawing of an arrow is difficult. While I try to balance my bow in my hand and try to keep my arm around the untamed branches that are in my other, I hear a snap of a branch from high above. Dropping the branches, I clumsily aim my bow and nock an arrow. Looking above at the tree-tops, I look through them, trying to find anything that moves.
The branches from a tree to my right dip low and a small, mocha-colored hand appears, soon followed by boot covered feet and tawny pants. Then shoulders follow and a familiar, twelve-year-old face appears.
Gasping, I lower my bow. Rue's big, brown eyes look at me in question and we stare at each other for the longest time.
Has she always been there? I hardly noticed her slinking through the branches. As we stare at each other, there are millions of questions in her eyes. I could imagine 'why am I not impaled with an arrow?' being the first one. As I stare at her curiously, I think of Prim. They're both so alike. So sweet, so delicate, so innocent, but one is more so than the other. I can't imagine what horrors Rue's been through the last three days.
Looking at her, I notice her hollowed cheeks and her pale skin. Dark circles frame her lovely brown eyes and I visibly grimace. Has this little girl eaten?
"Are you hungry?"
The question bubbles out of me without my permission. I almost want to smack myself for it but I know that I shouldn't want to. Rue does seem like she's in need of a good meal and Percy and I didn't have a walk through the dense woods without catching a wild bird or rabbit.
Rue doesn't answer. She just stares. As she shifts from her spot on the branch, I notice a burn that runs along her arm.
"I have something for that," I tell her. She glances at her arm before looking back at me. "Well, not with me currently. Percy has it in his pack. But we'll meet back at the cave. Do you want to join me?"
After a long moment of silence, I could see the slightest nod come out of her. I nod at the spot next to me, gesturing for her to come down.
She hesitates before scaling down the branches, her diminutive body nimbly going down each and every branch with skill. She's so soundless, I envy her tree climbing skills.
Looking at me once she reaches the base, she looks at me. Slowly, I put my arrow back into the quiver and reach down to grab the branches that I've dropped. Looking back at her, I nod in the direction back to the cave that Percy and I plan to spend the night in.
As we get closer, her eyes look at the branches in my arms curiously.
"What are you planning to do with those?"
Her voice surprises me. I look down at her and then at the leafy branches in my arms.
"We found a small cave farther down. We're going to try to conceal it with these branches so that it would get easier to hide," I tell her.
She nods at my words, her gaze moving to look forward again. "That's a good idea. Let's just hope that you and Percy chose the same color of tones for it."
Nodding, I smile. "Yes. We agreed on green pine branches before we went searching for them."
The rest of the walk is silent. When we arrive, Percy is already starting up a fire. Looking up, he makes a double take on my new companion. He looks at Rue curiously before looking at me. His eyes hold questions that will soon be answered.
I look down at Rue to see her staring at Percy nervously as she moves closer to me, even beginning to hide behind me.
Percy lets out a small, gentle smile. Looking down at her arm, he sighs. Smiling, he reaches out his hand to her.
"Let's say we get that arm fixed up?" he says.
Rue tentatively gives him her hand. Sitting her down next to him, he pulls out the ointment that he keeps in his pack. Taking her arm gently, he smooths it over the burnt area of her arm. I see her cringe at first contact of his hand on her arm and then she lets out a relieved sigh. Soon, the burn is gone and Percy is closing up the can and putting it away.
I look at the branches that Percy gathered and see that he's already woven them into some sort of covering door that looks like a meaningless pile of pine. Although there are some spots in between the branches that could see through them. I take my time to weave mine into it until you couldn't see through it at all.
Satisfied, I pull out the wild bird that I managed to catch with my arrow and set to cooking it. While I gut it, Rue recognizes it as a bird that she calls groosling. Soon, we all have a piece of the bird and are discussing things.
"So, Rue. Have you been up in the trees this entire time?" I question as Percy bites into the leg of the groosling. Grease drips down his chin as he does so and I smirk at his somewhat irritated expression but then shrugs it off, biting into it more.
Rue nods as she bites down onto a wing. "Yes. I used to work a lot in the trees back at home."
After swallowing, Percy joins in. "Oh, yeah. You're from Eleven. You guys do agriculture, right?"
Rue nods. "I collect the fruits and herbs from the trees."
"That explains your abilities in climbing trees so quietly," I remark, smiling at Rue. She nods, smiling at my compliment.
After we finish our meal, we move go into the cave, the lateness of the day beginning to make outside cold. Taking out our sleeping bags, Percy spreads them out inside and Rue will use some of the blankets Percy managed to get back at the Bloodbath.
Percy covers the entrance with the woven branch covering. Settling down, Rue sleeps in between us and Percy and I sleep on either side of her. Both Percy and I glance at each other before looking back at her. In our glances, we both communicate a small message. We will both take care of this little girl for as long as we can.
I stare down at Rue long after she dozes off, thinking of Prim and how much Rue reminds me of her. They're both so clever and strong; never to be underestimated. Both so young and so scarred.
Biting my lip, I close my eyes finally, wishing for sleep to come. Soon Percy's steady, heavy breathing makes its way to my ears. Opening my eyes, I see that his arm has somehow wound its way around Rue protectively. A small smile makes its way to my lips and I close my eyes, trying for another chance at sleep.
It comes but I can only think of the crimson color that either of us will certainly face in the near future. If it comes down to the three of us left, I'm not certain that I could kill either of the people beside me.
My sleep is riddled with all of our agonized screams being sung by blood-stained mockingjays.