Alright, guys! So in a couple ways I'm happy about how this chapter turns out, because c'mon, running away and slapping Cato is exactly what I'd imagine her to do if she was real (although I'm sure she exists in all of our hearts and our cardboard cutouts and drawings) but in a few other ways this chapter is kinda... I dunno, weird. So please comment? :D What do you think? And no, no Clato yet *audience boos* but they allllll have to sort out their feelings.

COME ON, they're careers! Love at first sight doesn't exist for them! Sorry if you were expecting a fairytale, but they just murdered innocent children in a fight to the death... Don't worry, I AIN'T A HATEAAAA. I 3 Clove :D but she has some major feeling-sorting-out to get through. It has to be said.

CHAPTER SEVEN: shock and headlines

What do I think about this? What do I say first? For a moment I just sit there numbly, staring into Cato's eyes. I blink. What just happened?

Oh, right. He kissed me.

Shock. That's what floods me first, and I think, Cato? Really? None of us at the Academy really cared about love or a love life, and none of us even thought that, even if we made it out of the arena alive, we'd ever find someone that we'd really, truly, love. Most of the married couples here in Two are solely matched for money. Love isn't useful, it isn't powerful. It just makes you all mushy-gushy, and the only good it does is perhaps give you an ally that might protect you.

And then anger. Why'd he just do that? I don't know, maybe he could say it first instead of just kiss me out of the blue? And why would Cato just – I don't know! The first thing I think of is to slap him.

And run, of course.

The expression on his face was priceless. Well, what'd he think I'd do? Give him an everlasting symbol of love and devotion?

"Wait! Clove!" I hear Cato's scream, from long behind me, and I stop in my tracks. He wants to talk to me? Well, of course he does, I think reasonably, it's not like he wouldn't discuss this after I well…

After I slapped him, and ran away without saying a word…

Suddenly I'm positive that my cheeks are about as red as the blooming apples that surround me, and I start running again.

Should I really do this? Is running away from my problems, not confronting them, not doing anything or even discussing them in the slightest, going to do anything for me?

I don't even know where I'm going. Home, I guess. But this orchard is pretty large and easy to get lost in, so I decide to head for the hills, where I'll at least be able to see most of the District and find my way back.

I'm strong, and I've been training all my life, but still running leaves me exhausted. It's got to be a mile or two before I finally fall. I pant wildly, and I'm exhausted. Plus I don't think I've eaten for a while. And sure, sure, I'm in an orchard surrounded by apples so call me an idiot if you'd like, but they're neither full-bloomed or legal to steal from, so whatever.

And I need water, too. Even in the Arena I've never truly, really been on the brink of starvation or dehydration. Sure, when the supplies blew up we were having a much harder time, but that doesn't mean that we were about to drop dead any second. We could hunt, and the lake supplied good water, and we had sponsors, so that was that.

I stare at the trees. Why'd Cato kiss me? I mean, come on, I'm not a social skills expert, but kissing someone that you're not related to usually means that you like them. Or love them, for that matter. The fact that Cato might actually be in love with me is dizzying.

What happened to "feelings-are-for-wimps" Cato? What happened to the Cato that laughed at the prospect of love, or ever finding it in the first place? It felt like the boy that I met so many years ago had changed drastically from the Arena to now, here, in the orchard.

It feels like I was staring into space for forever when I finally feel the need, the instinct, deep in me, to get walking – if I can't run then perhaps walk slowly, surely – find high ground, maybe to the river that separates the Lark Mountain District, where most of the miners live, to the richer part of town (although nobody's truly poor here and almost everyone knows about twenty different ways to kill someone, even if they weren't trained).

It's just such an odd feeling, I decide as I walk. I can already feel that the ground below my feet is slowly becoming more and more elevated and from here I can even see much farther than I could before. The trees stretch out in all directions for at least a mile or two. Usually visitors aren't allowed to come here, I guess, but we're victors, so who cares?

I keep on walking, because who knows what'll happen if I suddenly just stop to look at the scenery and I drop dead? There's always danger, especially here in the orchards where animals do occasionally come. And although they try to keep 'em out, it's hard to truly extinguish a species once and for all.

The thought of being mauled by a bear out here just makes me walk faster and more cautiously, occasionally looking back to the stony, mushy fields full of squirrels and birds and apples.

Suddenly my mind wanders back to Cato. Where is he? What is he doing now?

And of course what I've labeled in my mind "the Big Question", that I've debated endlessly, it seems, in my head since "It" happened. Why'd he kiss me? Why did he do it? Why didn't he just walk up to me and say, "Hey, Clove, I know that nobody in the world expected a heartless killer like me to say this, but I love you. Goodbye!"

Well, I guess that wouldn't exactly work. Like, at all.

I glance up to the sky again, a clash of reds and oranges and pinks, and I know that I'm not going anywhere until tomorrow.

And so once again, I'm ever-so-familiarly sleeping up in a tree, head balanced cautiously on one of the thick branches and feet wrapped around each other as to not fall. Of course I'm taking a risk, but I'm only about ten feet up and it's an even greater risk to sleep on the ground, so I guess I'm okay for now.

I imagine the headlines as I fall asleep, against my will, almost: "Victor Goes Missing", and then something along the lines of, "Love Between Victors"?

Oh, god. This is evolving into a nightmare. I never asked for this! But still, I can't help wondering… does he have a chance?

Heya again! So now that you've read this thaaang, what do you think? Way overboard or plausible? Review please :D and sorry for not doing the review-answer-things, but if you reviewed (and DauntlessClove, you alwaaays review so thank you SO much for that, you always make my day) and you know who you are if you review, give yourselves a pat on the back. Anyway, yeah, new chappie tomorrow... :D Did you like this one? For me writing this was kinda meeh... but tell me what you think.