We settle in the blanket of the earth, moist from the dew that seeped in when night fell. The stars are obscured by the large canopy of trees above us, rustling gently from the occasional breeze or two. Rue sits at the foot of a large oak before rising to her feet and walking over to where she is. They chat a little bit before she turns and heads in my direction.
I glance at her as she sits down next to me, not too close but enough to speak. She smiles shyly, teeth bright against her dark skin. "Hi."
"We think dinner will be ready soon,"
"Katniss says we need more firewood though, can you help me?"
I rise to my feet, sighing a little. I know this is a test of my reliability. She still distrusts me and in some ways I cannot blame her. Rue seems to have grown a little closer to me, though I have been keeping my distance when I can since…it will be hard to do anything else when the time comes. She doesn't seem to mind it though—when I brush her off. The Girl on Fire is as much aloof as I can be at times, but she softens immediately when near Rue.
So maybe that's the other reason that I'm going with her—if I am left on my own, they don't know what I will do, but with Rue, I will be forced to stay put, in a sense, and I can protect her while Katniss keeps watch here.
"Don't go too far," she tells Rue.
"We won't," she hops on a log and jumps off, alternating between jogging and skipping a little. We don't go far and Rue gathers up the driest branches for tinder. She comes over and hands me a bunch, going back and gathering some more.
"Where should we head to next?"
"It doesn't matter to me," I tell her.
"We've been wandering for days; do you think the tributes are going down any?"
"I doubt it," I answer honestly, "We haven't seen them but there have been no cannon bombs,"
"True…" she drifts off, holding branches close to her little frame. She pushes dark curly hair away from her face and begins to the walk back.
She looks at me several times, as though she wants to make conversation but cannot think of anything to say. I don't try to urge her into speaking since there's no real need for it. I think she only talks when she's uncomfortable with the silence. So I try to be amiable without saying anything, and I think she can tell since the quiet isn't thick.
"We're back," she tells the girl, handing her the tinder. She takes them and sets them by the fire, and before I know it, she reaches to take mine even though I was only going to set them down. Her face looks surprised, as though she wasn't expecting to move toward me and solely did it by second nature. She recoils fast enough to make it look like she was doing something else. I continue to bend down and place them where Rue's are.
Rue and Katniss eat quietly, with my back to them, gnawing on a small wing of some sort of bird. I watch the distant darkness, looking for anyone that might come through the brush. In no time it gets so black none of us can see. We head further into the entrenched area of a tree, where Rue nestles into the side of her friend, breathing slowing down until it evens out.
She and I don't sleep, continuing to watch for shadows that move.
There's the occasional movement from her as she finds a comfortable spot. There's a lump digging into the small of my back and I move away from it, scooting to my left.
"Keep to your side," she hisses.
I glare at her, "I'm not doing it on purpose," I continue to move until I find a surface good enough for my back.
"Oh shut up,"
She shuts up with a huff. Pulling Rue close, we settle back into silence, discomfited and irritated but silence.
I glance at her in the bare light, features softened by the shadows and the moon's white glow. She continues to stare out. I settle into the hiding spot, looking up at the blackened canopy. My eyes flutter close though I have no intention of sleeping. I listen to her steady breathing, feeling the body heat radiate from her. I let out a deep breath quietly. We've nothing to speak of yet…
"Rue falls asleep easily," I murmur.
She doesn't say anything and I believe she is going to ignore me like usual—
"Yes… she does," she answers, "I don't know how she does it,"
"Probably because she's near you,"
I think I hear her smile rather than see it.
"She's more comfortable here hidden too,"
"Naturally," I reply, "Anyone with sense would be,"
"So you're comfortable here too?"
I wait. "In a sense; it doesn't make much difference to me."
"I've had no need to hide,"
"Not all of us go rushing into things,"
"That's different," she says, voice a little harsh.
"Not too much," I say, voice a little soft.
We don't speak, wrapped in thoughts.
"Rue…is she much like your sister?"
"Very much," she answers, "She…only looks differently outwardly. Other than that, both are a lot alike,"
"I see…" I remember the Reaping, the little girl with bright blonde hair and white skin, being pulled back by her older, darker sister, screaming for her not to go. The two of them shattered the world with their bond.
"Why didn't you stay home?"
"Because this is what I've had to do,"
"What about your family?"
"This has always been what they trained me for," I tell her.
"We don't share that likeness,"
"I didn't expect us to,"
She leans further back, "You had the choice to wait,"
"I was ready for it now."
"So you don't regret anything?"
"No," I tell her, looking at her face. She had turned to look at me, "I don't."
She smiles with too many emotions, "Now that's only thing we have in common,"