HEYO GUYS! So, this is CantBelieveThatStuffz (author) and this idea just kind of randomly popped into my head... so, this is going to be basically what happened if Clove decided to bring Cato with her to the feast. Injured, from the fight with Peeta, but still a threat. Her decision changes everything.
In reality I think that this story isn't really THAT T-rated (no cursing or anything) but it's just because of the Games and MAYBE, MAYBE a little bit of violence. I'm debating on whether or not to add some Clato by the end of the story (like I said most everything is going to be PG-rated, it's only T because I'm paranoid). Anyway, just my two cents. I would consider this more YA, but there's not setting for that, so I have to go for Teen. Oh, well.
It's funny how one little thing, one little detail in your life can change everything. The girl ruined my chances of winning – well, not entirely, but right now she's got the upper hand and we've got nothing… quite literally.
It wasn't as if we weren't expecting one or two fighters this year; people that were worth battling, that were serious candidates for winning these Games. But it also wasn't as if we were expecting someone who was more powerful than Cato or I combined. How did we simply miss such a thing? How could we ignore the Girl on Fire from District 12, the girl who didn't make sense in the slightest?
Cato's voice snaps me back into reality. It's worn out, tired, and, for the first time ever, I think, worried. Very worried.
"Should we make a fire?" Usually je doesn't ask – usually he didn't ask, I remind myself – but that was before we'd made it to the final six, before our numbers were so low.
I ponder this. Thresh wouldn't come after us, surely. No, but Foxface would, if she wasn't following us already. It's not like she's anything we can't handle, though, weaponless and weak. Katniss, though? I don't know – surely she wouldn't leave Lover Boy alone, right?
"Yeah, let's do it," I respond. "I'm freezing, anyway. Looks like the Gamemakers are pumping down the temperatures at night and practically boiling us in the daytime." It's true – me and Cato haven't been able to properly hunt for days now. The temperatures here are extreme.
"You've only pointed that out, what, fifty times already?" Cato says with a small chuckle.
"Just making small talk," I say. "This arena is boring. It doesn't bother me in the slightest, of course," I say quickly, with an air of pride – I don't want to make my image as a powerful, deadly Career vanish – "But… nevermind. It's nothing, I guess. Who's first shift tonight?"
"Uh, I don't know. Me, I guess? I don't really care, but since you don't like the silence, Little Miss Social Butterfly –"
"I'm not social. I just like hearing someone's voice every now and then."
"Oh, whatever. Just go to sleep," he says.
And I do – I curl up in the sleeping bag, one of the four that we have, and try to pretend that my stomach isn't almost completely empty (a feeling that I've never felt before; such an odd feeling) and that it's absolutely freezing outside this little bubble of warmth. I turn my head to find even Cato, strong, unfaltering Cato, shivering. He's got my jacket and my socks for extra warmth, seeing as I have the sleeping bag to protect me from the cold, but it's still not enough.
I close my eyes and drift off to a restless, dreamless night.
And I sleep – until morning, in fact. I'm about to tell Cato off for not waking me up sooner – I could've done a shift! He needs his sleep! – when suddenly I hear a voice. Claudius Templesmith's voice, in fact, inviting us to a feast.
"Great," I say with a wicked, cruel smile. "They're bringing us all together. We can hunt, finally!" I pause and think for a moment and then say, "Well, if it's not too hot," but the humor is lost as we realize – it is, actually, mind-bogglingly hot. Almost too hot to bear.
We pack up our things – we don't have much, a couple sleeping bags, some food, water, and some other essentials that I am grateful to have kept by my side for so long. It's not a long walk to the Cornucopia – we've been hiding out in the forest, a little bit away from the landmark, just because we didn't want our base to be so visible, but we wanted access there, for whatever reason. Also so we could orient ourselves.
Faster than I can comprehend it, we're there, and apparently – from the way I see it – Finch, the red-haired, fox-faced girl from 5 who has, somehow, survived up to this point, hides in the horn of the Cornucopia. I make a mental note of this.
I see Cato tense and I know he's going to charge, but I hold his arm tightly and whisper, "If we go now, they'll all know we're here. We'll be targets – let's wait. At least 'till they all come out, then we'll have the advantage."
Cato opens his mouth to argue but I whisper frantically, "We can't go! We're not as strong as we used to be. You have that cut on your arm–" I motion to that long stroke that Peeta had managed to deliver, right before Cato practically killed him "–and Katniss has a bow, so she'll be able to get us long-range."
He contemplates this. I wasn't one for strategy. No Careers are, really, because are lives are simple in the Games: eat, kill, sleep. We're not trained for anything more than how to pierce someone's heart with a knife with pinpoint accuracy or how to be deadly with a sword.
"Yeah, O.K., fine, but I'm coming with you."
"What–wha- No!" I sputter. I've never been nervous until now, but what will I do without Cato? What if Thresh or Fire-girl gets him? I'll be toast. "You can't. Just watch from the trees. Your arm–"
"It's fine," he says through gritted teeth as he waves. "Besides, I can use my other hard for my sword. I want to protect you."
"Well– O.K.," I mutter, "You can come. Just– just–" my voice falters. "Be careful out there, will you? Without you, I'm dead."
He nods solemnly. The mood's changed since Glimmer and Marvel died, and since the supplies have blown up, and since Katniss Everdeen, Fire-girl, has gotten the upper hand and terrified us with her unexpected powers. I've gone from out-of-my-mind ruthless, yet still satisfied, to out-of-my-mind scared – since when have I ever been scared? My name is Clove, I remind myself, I've been training to kill wimps like Fire-girl and Fox-face and Lover-boy since I turned three.
I'll win this thing, with Cato, without a hitch, and we'll live in Victor's Village and have a happily ever after, teaching the new generations of District 2 what district pride really means. Or something along that line – I haven't worked everything out, yet.
Yet part of my mind stays hesitant. Unsure. Unsure of myself. Since when am I like this?
The trumpets sound. I brace myself. "Get ready," I tell Cato. I grip the knife at my belt, the one that isn't intricate and cruel but instead deadly, sharp, and made to fly through the air swiftly.
The tables rise.
I prepare myself to run. I have to run, I will run. For my life. And for the death of others.
The tables are up. Everything is blurry.
I'm running now, faster than I've ever been before, and so is Cato, though I can see that his arm is troubling him. I'm about to stop and help him when I remember just when and where I am. "Run!" I shout.
I'm worried because I have a hard time believing he's really able to defend himself with that arm. I don't even know why he's here, why I so foolishly allowed him here. If he was a regular, healthy, well-fed Career, I wouldn't mind him running into a pack of wolves because he'd be able to fend them off quite easily. But… I wouldn't say that right now, with his bleeding arm, and his malnourished body – we haven't eaten much for days now – I'm not sure what will become of him.
To my right is Finch, the red-head, and I throw a knife to her general direction. To my surprise, it grazes her arm, and she runs away cradling the wounded shoulder. I look to see the backpacks unfazed, untouched, except for the backpack labeled "5", which has not-so-surprisingly gone missing.
"Cato, grab the 2 backpack!" I yell. Now I can see Thresh coming parallel to me and I make sure to steer clear of him – I bet he could bash my brains in, I think. He isn't one to be messed around with. Yet he's bulky, and thick, so I still have a chance. Not in hand-to-hand combat, though.
"I've got it," he yells, and in a few moments he's beside me. "Look, there's Fire-girl –" we both refuse to call her by her actual name "–Let's get her."
She sees us coming in her direction, and her eyes widen. She stops in fear for just a heartbeat, but then moves on, determined, grabbing her backpack and attempting to storm out. But I'm there first, being much faster than her, and pin her down.
"Where's lover boy?" I ask, smiling as cruelly as humanly possible. I'm not usually like this – well, the other Districts would beg to differ, but I'm normally not a crazy murderer – but I don't want to be seen as weak. Not after trying to protect Cato. That's considered weak, in my District at least. You don't protect others, they say, if they need protecting they're weak.
And if you protect them, you're weak.
"He's out there, right now, coming to get you," she chokes out. "And your little friend over there. Cato."
I pressed a knife to her neck. "Cato knows where he cut him. That medicine in the bag's for him, isn't it?" This I can't deny. She can't, either, and she's out of words for me. "You know… Cato said that I could kill you if I gave them a good show. So here." I trace her lips and her eyes with a more intricate, pinpoint-sharp knife (I know my knives). "Blow lover boy a kiss."
And she does. And the blood lands on my face. "Whatever, I'll just get this over with," I declare. "I'm going to kill you. Like we did with your little friend. What was her name? Rue?"
I'm about to sink my knife into her heart when suddenly I'm picked up and thrown to the ground. I'm dazed, for a moment, but then get right on track and identify that it's Thresh, who's picking up a rock. What's he going to do with it? My mind is in a blur. Everything is dizzy. I must've hit my head hard when I fell.
Suddenly he raises it over me and fear is replaced by the happiness that my dazed state had brought me. I'm going to die! He's going to kill me! No… no, I can't die, Cato and my family need me! I can't die…
I close my eyes. I don't want to see it. I don't want to feel it. I want to escape.
I wait for the pain, the blood, the death. And I do feel blood – but it isn't mine. I open my eyes and see Cato leaning over a bloody Thresh. "Let's get out of here," I whisper. Cato nods, his eyes holding everything from fear to pain... to relief. Since when does he care about me?