Okay, so first thing, this in an experiment. I just saw this Catoniss video on youtube called "the future seemed so bright" and it was just stuck in my head and I knew that I won't get out unless I do something about it and after that the story just came to my mind and kept going. As this is an experiment , I thought why not try writing in third POV and there are so many intriguing characters in the series whom full justice was not done as we saw the world the way Katniss saw it.
I may continue this fanfic if it gets positive response, if it doesn't then I'll just continue writing my other story.
P.S. Panem is a tiny bit different in this.
Love the way you lie
"Welcome to District 12- coal and mining. We hope you have a pleasant stay." The unnaturally robotic voice boomed through the old, little used station. It was his first time out of district 2 and he was already missing the luxuries there. He doubted anyone could have a pleasant stay in district 12
"Is it really necessary to go to every district? These kids don't even stand a chance! What's the use of observing them?" He complains. It was an honor for him to be chosen to accompany the victor as the apprentice but he had never imagined that the conditions of the outlying districts would be this dire
"Never underestimate your enemy Cato, you never know" Enobarnia, the newly crowned victor who was currently on her victory tour replies to the little boy in front of her who she knew would one day go on to bring pride and honor to his district; just like she did.
"But at least there is a point in visiting the first 6 or 7 districts. They are not victims of malnutrition or poverty like this one. District 12 has only one victor alive! And I don't think that they are going to have another one very soon." He argues with her. He held great respect for Enobarnia; just like the rest of his district. But that didn't stop him from bickering with her. If there was any other thing Cato loved more than winning, it was proving people wrong, especially the ones he looked up to.
"Enobarnia is right Cato, don't underestimate any of them. The only alive victor of distric12 has won the games with twice the competition so you can't conclude how a tribute is only because of its district" says Brutus in his gruff voice. Cato is about to back answer when Brutus cut him out and tells
"You can estimate, yes. I am not telling you to consider them as your competition but don't count them out too early either." The surly man who was in his mid-thirties has been a mentor for almost twenty years, and he was rather good at it considering that District 2 had 8 victors in the past 20 years.
The twelve year old boy gives a curt nod before asking "are we at least staying in a decent place? Even if there is one, it is going to be hard to find"
"Don't worry about that, I have already made the arrangements and there is someone I want you to meet." Brutus replies giving a half- smile which he rarely does. Life in district 2 and the games had hardened him. It was filled with comforts that some districts might not even have heard of, but that was after 10 years of bitter training and by that time, even the most cheerful and carefree people had turned cold. Only some managed to keep their inner child alive. Life in district 2 wasn't considered hard or perishing but if one looked close enough, it was more distressing than they would have imagined.
On the way to the destination, Enobarnia is excitedly chatting to Cato about her time in the arena, the privileges of being a victor and how one day he would do the same. Cato looks at her with wide eyes filled with awe when she gives a detailed description on how she ripped a tribute's throat using only her teeth. Normally, people would avoid telling kids about such barbaric experiences but Cato was no normal kid. He was a trainee career and although he was only a 4th year, he showed more potential than most of the 6th years. After almost fifteen minutes the old, rusty vehicle halts and all of them get down.
"Ahem, I present you the victors' village" says Brutus, trying to get their attention but both of them seemed to busy in their discussion of which was the best strategy to use in the arena. Brutus clears his throat one more time and repeats "I present you the victor's village". Both of them look up, clearly shocked to see the place which was a disgrace to all the victor's villages in Panem.
"This is the victors' village?" both of them reply at the same time. The village is far more posh than the rest of the district but is still nothing compared to the victor's village in district 2, which was filled with residents living in huge mansions and not a drunk mentor living solitarily in a small cottage.
"Yes, and this is where we are going to stay for two days" Brutus says pointing at a dark and gloomy house somewhere near the end."
"Can't we stay at the Justice Building like we did in the other districts? I know I was complaining but I am okay with it now, anyplace except this haunted house is okay" he says. The dark atmosphere, the stench of alcohol and the broken windows of the house send cold chills down his back.
"Too late to do that now kiddo, c'mon you have no other option so it's not the time to be picky. Haymitch is a friend of mine" he says as he goes inside the gloomy place.
"Friend? That drunken mentor of district 12 looks like a person who would throw an empty wine bottle at anyone who knocks on his door! Are you out of you mind?" Enobarnia says. Normally, Enobarnia never questioned what Brutus said or did; after all he was her trainer and mentor. In a lot of ways, he was the reason she was still alive but the idea of sharing the house with a drunk made her speak up.
Brutus glares at her. She wasn't usually the one who would stop just because of a glare but it was Brutus she was against, she knew she would be fighting for a lost cause. There was no winning against Brutus .Both of them had no choice but to follow.
"I knew I never should have agreed to come along with you guys as the trainee career" Cato mutters under his breath while walking, being careful not to step on the broken shards of various glass bottles
"Enobarnia! Cato! Meet the victor of the 50th annual hunger games, Haymitch Abernathy" Brutus says in a fake cheery voice
Both of them look at the paunchy, drunken victor who seems to be in another world. He was swinging from side to side, barely managing to keep his balance. No wonder that they haven't won any games for a long time if they have a mentor like this. Cato can't help but feel bad for the under-privileged children of district 12 who go into the arena destined to die. Kids like him at least know that they stand a chance. But here, even if a kid is strong enough their hope and confidence is crushed. And you can't get what you want unless you believe that you can
"Haymitch, this is our victor and this is our trainee career" Brutus introduces them. Cato shakes his rough and scar-filled hands and tries to remember him as a tribute. At the academy, they showed the full recording of each and every hunger games ever played. He remembered watching the 50th hunger games at training. The victor, who was a determined young rebel, doesn't represent Haymitch in any way. He had kind of idolized him after seeing him fight the final battle holding his intestines in one hand and using the force field as a weapon but that all has changed now, seeing what state he was currently in.
He moves towards Enobarnia and studies her
"You must be really bad at training. They normally don't allow careers who have crossed their 8th year on victory tours unless they really need it. "He taps her cheek and says "I have my heartfelt sympathies with you if you get reaped." Enobarnia is burning red now; Cato stifles a laugh as she glares at him but before she could speak, Haymitch has already turned his attention towards him.
"Oh my! Such a young victor, what did you do to win? Charmed all the sponsors with your innocence and then started killing? I am truly impressed" he says as he ruffles his hair. There is one unsaid rule which everyone at training knows and follows; if you touch Cato's hair or his sword you are as good as dead. But I guess he couldn't hurt a drunken mentor who mixed up the trainee and the victor
"Umm….Haymitch you mixed them up. Enobarnia is the victor and Cato is the trainee career." Says Brutus, slightly embarrassed himself
"In any case, one of them is a victor. Let's celebrate! I have a closet full of wine" he says as he pulls Enobarnia and Brutus towards a shadowy passage."
"Wait! What about him?" Enobarnia asks. She had always been a bit protective about Cato, like an elder sister that he never had.
"Don't worry, I can think I can manage another hour or so without both you telling me what to do" he smirks and shouts to them before they disappear into one of the rooms in the never ending corridor.
He looks around, there was nothing much to do in district. He goes to the edge of the village which is on the outskirts of the district. There was a snow-white fence followed by barbed wires which was followed by endless greenery. He had never been to a forest before since District 2 was surrounded by rugged mountains and a lake. The thought of a new adventure and doing something forbidden was intriguing. He quietly slips through the white fence and pause before the barbed wire. It had a HIGH VOLTAGE sign on it. District two had a high wall which was impossible to climb as the boundary but he had heard that some districts had electrical fences. District 12 had shortage of electricity and other amenities, what were the chances that it was electrically charged? It was worth the chance.
He was taught in district two that anything unknown or unfamiliar was perilous. Knowing your surrounding well was one of the key things in survival. But here he was, on the verge of being free for the first time in his life, on verge of disappearing into the nameless wilderness. How could he turn back?
He passes all the barriers and finds himself in open foliage. The wind was brushing against his cheeks and the sun was shining over his head. He could have never experienced anything like this in his own district where everything was controlled and disciplined. But in here, even the grass and trees were untamed and wild. There was nobody who he had to listen to here, and he loved it.
He was roaming around for a while, observing the wild creatures and plants he had only seen in pictures. There was not much greenery in District 2. The roads, the pavements and mostly everything else were covered with stones of different kind. It wasn't much surprise considering the district's main industry was masonry. Cato had only gone to one park in his entire life, and that was not for playing and fun. It was only for jogging and fitness training. The endless green wilderness was something new for him
He turns and holds a blade pointed at the girl in front of him. He wasn't allowed to bring weapons along with him but Enobarnia had made sure that he wasn't completely weaponless.
The girl, a brunette with her hair braided in two was holding a mini version of bow and arrow aimed at him.
"Move and I'll shoot" She warns him in a deadly serious voice. Cato laughs; he knew that laughing or mocking his opponent could get them unhinged.
"I am not afraid" he says uncaringly. He had always been dauntless, sometimes to the extent of being stupid but dauntless either way.
"You should be" she replies. Cato knew that she was right, his knife wouldn't do much damage against the bow which was only an arm's length from his chest, but he wasn't going to give her any satisfaction by admitting that. He also knew from the moment he had set eyes on her that she wasn't a kind of person who would back down easily.
"But I am not. Got any problem with that?"
"Who... are you?" she demands, her eyes filled with suspicion and grit determination "I have never seen you before"
"Of course you haven't. I am from district 2." He replies "Now can you lower you bow?" If there was anything in the world that Cato hated more than losing, it was being in a vulnerable position. He was one of the best in his academy. He was being trained to survive, being trained to kill. He certainly wasn't going to tolerate any nonsense from a pathetic district 12 girl
"No, not until I am sure I can trust you completely" She says. Looks like someone has some trust issues
"You can't" He replies, trust was something little uncommon in district 2, at least till the time they passed out from the academy. People relied on each other, confided in each other, depended on each other but completely trusted each other? Not so sure. There were a few people who would, but sadly they weren't as common as the people who wouldn't.
"Exactly what I was thinking, that's why it would be better if I left you here bleeding with an arrow in you limb."
"You wouldn't do that. I am a guest in district 12, and I don't think the peacekeepers here and the authority back home would be too happy if they found me bleeding to death in this wilderness." It was matter of peace between the two districts. District 2 and 12 were not on good terms, 2 being one of the privileged ones and 12 being one of the underdogs. One would expect the all districts to unite and rebel in opposition of the capitol but here, the districts were against each other. The capitol had taken the saying 'divide and rule' as its motto.
"Don't be so sure. And incidentally, you may be a guest in district 12 but in case you haven't noticed you are not in district 12 anymore and here, you are nothing but an intruder."
"What are you then? Isn't crossing the fence and hunting illegal and punishable by death?"
"You have no proof I was hunting illegally, and didn't you cross the fence too?"
"Then how would you explain your possession of a weapon? And I am sure no one would doubt me if I told them that I had seen you here and followed you to check what you were doing. In case you haven't noticed I am just carrying a knife, which is not exactly considered a weapon according to the penal code."
Cato smirks as he finishes the sentence. He knew that there was no suitable answer for this. More than half of the peacekeepers all over Panem were trained in District 2; there was a good chance that he might find a familiar face somewhere.
"You wouldn't do that…" she narrows her eyes and says like she was finding it hard to believe what he had just said.
"I would if you don't lower the bow" He replies. He knew that he had won the argument and there was nothing she could do but obey.
"Promise me you won't tell anyone about this" She demands. Cato understood that they weren't going to end their futile dispute unless he agreed to her
"Fine. I promise, but don't expect me to keep it" He gives a crooked smile. At this, even the girl standing in front of him who was giving him dirty glances till now smiles. No one could help but find Cato charming, no matter how annoying he was.
"You are witty." She remarks. It was a sudden compliment which Cato had never expected, considering that not one minute ago, they were standing with their weapons aimed at each other.
"Thanks…I guess. Did you notice that we have been talking for the past 10 minutes and don't even know each other's name?" Cato finds himself asking, not knowing what to say next without it sounding either random or awkward
"Yes" she replies.
"Are you planning to tell me?" He asks. He had never met this kind of girl before.
"Nope…" she says. She was intriguing and infuriating at the same time.
"Katniss! Katniss where are you? It's time to go home!" a masculine voice shouts from a distance.
"I am here Daddy!" Katniss shouts back.
"So Katniss, huh?" Cato asks, pleased at the fact that he had got to know the name of the fiery brunette who had kept him busy arguing so long.
"Yeah, make fun of it and I'll—"She says but Cato cuts her off before she could finish
"Relax! You're not the only one with a peculiar name." Cato assures her. He knew the advantages and disadvantages of having an uncommon name. The advantage was that it made you stand out between 5 other Maula's and 3 other Stele's which were common names in district 2. The disadvantage was that people picked upon you if you were not strong enough to stand up to them and bash them. Cato had never faced any problems in doing the latter.
"What's your name then?" Katniss asks. She had never met anyone out of her own district before. Her father never allowed her to go to the victory tour celebration as he said that it would be a way of supporting the victory of a teenager over 23 others by killing them. He said that the hunger games were a sick pageant which was meant to punish them and divide them even further, and he was right.
"Cato" He answers
"Cato…" she repeats "It's different, It's nice" she comments
"Thanks…I guess that's your father coming" He remarks as he sees a tall athletic man coming towards them. Katniss was a splitting image of her father with the same dark brown locks and olive skin; he was carrying a bigger version of Katniss' bow and arrows and something which was probably game.
"Who is this, darling?" he asks, looking curiously at Cato
"This is Cato. He is from district 2. He is my…" she looks at Cato and wonders what he is to her? He was just a boy who she found in the woods and was threatening to kill not so long ago, but after talking or rather arguing with him she thought that she had come to know him to an extent. "He is my…friend." She awkwardly finishes.
"Pleasure to meet you, sir" says Cato. Katniss looks at him, her gray eyes filled with surprise. There was no way possible that he was the boy who had held a blade at her and was threatening to rat her out could be so polite and diplomatic within seconds.
"There is no need for such diplomacy!" Mr. Everdeen laughs and says. "And what exactly are you doing so far from your rich and aristocratic district and here in our poor, deprived one?" he said it with a sense of humor and a smile but Cato couldn't help but feel a bit uncomfortable. Like Mr. Everdeen was highlighting the fact that he was an outsider.
"I am a Career, well not yet but I will be. I was selected to accompany the victor and…observe the competition in other districts." He throws a quick glance at Katniss but soon turns his attention back to Mr. Everdeen. He had noticed how 's smile faltered when he said the word 'Career'. He had expected this kind of reaction; the people from other districts thought of the careers as bloodthirsty, aggressive, brutal and slightly deranged killing machines. They didn't understand the fact that even the careers were just trying to stay alive; doing what they had to, even if it meant killing other tributes. But the other districts were right about the fact that the Career districts liked to have its victors; they didn't force the children to volunteer but expected them to. For some, this was sickening but for Cato, this was his life.
"Oh yes, isn't this year's victor the one who ripped a tribute's throat?" Mr. Everdeen inquires. He tried his best to keep his voice cool and contained but Cato had seen have appalled he had looked when he mentioned the last part.
"Yes, she's the one" Cato replies, keeping his voice impassive. Mr. Everdeen wasn't a bad man, but his and Cato's thoughts were very different.
"Well, we should get going" Katniss tugs her daddy and says. She had noticed the tension between Cato and her father while they were talking about the hunger games. The three words were capable of inciting fears in almost everyone in district 12. The violent, ghastly games weren't an anticipated event here.
"You're right honey. I'll go get the remaining game and meet you back here okay? Don't go anywhere." He instructs her and leaves. Once more, Cato and Katniss were alone together.
"Do you know how to use that bow or is it just for show?" He asks. Bows were a sore subject for him. He still remembered the first time he had handled a bow and ended up breaking it in anger after none of his arrows hit the bull's eye. One would call him a passable archer but in district 2, passable was as good as terrible.
"I know archery, though not as good as my father. He hits the eye of the game every single time." She replies. It was her dream to be as good as her father in archery.
"That's impressive." Cato remarks. It was not easy to impress him, or rather impress anyone in district 2.
"Katniss! C'mon!" her father calls from behind
"I guess you have to go" Cato says. He did have an interesting time with her.
"Yeah," she pauses and asks "Will I ever see you again?"
"I think I'll answer that the next time we meet" He smirks and says. Katniss smiles and turns back to go towards her father. Midway, she turns back and waves bye to Cato, and surprisingly he finds himself waving back. At that moment, Cato knew that it wouldn't be easy to forget her.