We both wake up bright and early, heading down to the Training Center immediately. We agreed the other day to meet up with our new partners that we'll meet in the morning and practice together. Glimmer and Marvel were insistent on working together to build up our strengths.
Clove and I were wary doing so; it's wiser to not let people know our greatest attributes but in order to have their loyalty a little privacy must be invaded.
It's a cost, however if Clove and I have any say in it, we'll make them pay if they don't honor it.
We're there before them so we enjoy the quiet together.
Clove heads over to where a giant computer takes up the wall, and she practices matching up the plants with their uses. After only a few moments, she gets frustrated. Slams her fist on the glowing keyboard and stalks back to me.
"Too hard?" I mock her.
She snorts and cocks her head at an arrogant angle. "I don't need it all that much."
I look at it, eyeing it carefully—the way it just sits there, seemingly easy but I know that if I go over there, I'll have absolutely no clue as to how to use it, much less identify the damned plants. Walking away from it, Clove and I practice with the weapons. She tosses knives and I pick up another sword, this one a little thinner, possibly for fencing. I don't like it. I go back to the broadsword and feel satisfied.
Clove throws a few more before retrieving them. She suddenly turns to me, "You think we'll be able to trust them?"
I stab a dummy through the heart. Turn to her, "That'll depend on them."
She sighs heavily, rolling her eyes, "Please, Cato, we can barely trust each other and we've known each other for years—that's the way it works. We don't even know these two,"
"It's true, but I'm pretty they're not as stupid as all that. People don't go to predators without some sort of plan to be cautious. We've got the upper hand with them—after all, they asked us."
Clove nods but I hear the quiet sigh escape from her. She's not entirely pleased with my answer, I can tell, but she knows to remain silent about it. There's not much more we can do. We've seen our district often team up with the other strongest districts before—something that just sort of happened, for no particular reason. None that we can remember; it's something that is typically assumed, if I'm guessing correctly. It never made sense to me, teaming up with those who are just as equal in strength as you.
But it's too late to revert it back to solitary play.
Clove continues throwing her knives, even as Glimmer and Marvel enter into the room. Marvel waves a little too jovially at the two of us, which I only give a curt nod in response while Clove ignores, a little more intense with her throws than usual. Glimmer comes up to me instantly, smiling wide.
"You look well,"
"I hope so—it wouldn't do good to be otherwise in the Games."
She laughs: a sharp and unexpected thing. I don't see what's funny.
Marvel comes up to us, Clove finally deciding to come up, arms folded across her chest, her small frame tense. She's never been the most difficult to read, granted, that's only if you knew her really well.
"So, what should be practice on first before the others get here?" Marvel asks.
"Well I still like the idea of knowing one another's special skills," answers Glimmer, flipping back her hair, "Even if we already know them, like Clove and her knives,"
Clove doesn't take this too kindly but remains mum about it. She likes praise for her work—she's incredibly deadly, impressive, but when it comes from people that she has to go against, she tends to become…a little threatening. Her stance parts a little, wanting to challenge her, but one look at me and she forces herself to remain calm about it. Her anxiety is rolling into me, pricking my skin—even her emotions cut through. She'll continue to view them as a threat for a while before she lets her guard down.
Even then, I know she won't. I don't plan to either.
The rest of the tributes of the districts come in their traditional pairs. I grip the sword I drew closer and head out to practice on the dummies, thinking about what to do afterward. To increase my agility, I'll probably practice jumping on those large and tall rectangular blocks for good measure. Climb a rope or something, although, I think it won't take me long to win.
Maybe not the rope climbing…
I concentrate on the synthetic victims for a while before I glance to my left, watching a flicker of movement. The boy from 12 is doing something with the paint. Stopping what I'm doing, I slowly make my way over; not completely halfway, but enough to watch. He's just painting on his arm.
How is painting gonna be of any use, honestly?
I'm about to turn back around when I hear the shuffle of footsteps. I look back at her, the girl from 12, who comes up beside him.
"What are you doing today?"
He shows her something on his arm that he's been doing. Her mouth makes an 'O' shape, seemingly impressed with whatever it was that he showed her. He brushes her off good-naturedly, and she smiles just a little. They talk a bit more about his technique.
"Where'd you learn that?"
"I decorate the pastries at the bakery,"
She nods, watching in a mixture of amusement and fascination.
"That's kinda girly isn't it?"
I didn't mean to speak. I didn't even notice how close I had gotten until I heard my voice shatter their companionable conversation.
Their heads jerk to look at me: the boy is surprised to find me there, but silences, becoming entirely mute in my presence and there's a hardness in his eyes that looms out. Her on the other hand, while quiet, glares at me with such intense hostility that it takes me back a little, even if we're opponents in the arena.
"What do you want?"
Something in me flares. "Nothing; just watching a useless activity,"
"What he's doing is not useless!"
"Katniss," he tells her in a hushed murmur, placating her to stand down.
Someone is clearly the man in this relationship.
"Prove it to me," I challenge.
She doesn't cool down, fire still flaming out at me, but nothing escapes her lips. Ah, so it's one of their secrets…
I smile at her—to which she scowls petulantly—before I return to my own share of the training center.
Hacking away at the other dummies, I catch Clove's eye, where she is learning how to start a fire. She strikes the flint the moment her eyes focus on mine, fire catching beneath her, reminding me of the girl behind me—when stone strikes and fire sparks out.
Her eyes narrow slightly, her fingers clutching around the flint a little tighter.
What's going on?
I shake my head.
Nothing at all.
She continues back to her work for a while and it's only when I've satiated myself with the destruction of all these pathetic plastic things that she comes to me, something akin to concern in her face but it's swallowed mainly by the curious arrogance in her eyes and jaw.
"What were you doing talking with those nobodies?"
"Nothing, Clove," I return easily, "I was simply watching them and the girl through a hissy fit."
She casts a snide look in their direction—practicing tying knots now—before returning her attention to me. "Did you learn anything?"
"He's good at painting; and decorating pastries,"
She snorts, rolling her eyes, "That's hardly anything useful,"
"I told her that!"
Clove quirks a brow at me, "Told her that?"
I shrug, trying to act nonchalant about it, "She told me that it was useful and I told her otherwise. I was only stating my opinion."
I don't know why she's looking at me with this pressurized worry and anger, arms akimbo, squaring her slender shoulders, but if I was looking at myself at this moment, it would mirror her expression exactly. "Cato—"
She doesn't get to finish, Marvel and Glimmer calling us over to practice other things. She acquiesces reluctantly and I follow suit, the people quiet for the most part, except for us, the ones who have decided that we will win merely by choice and sheer willpower because that's how destiny is.
We head back to our own floor after a while. I crash straight onto the couch, Clove walking off with a yawn.
"Aren't you going to shower?"
I open one eye, barely a crack, to look at my mentor, Lyme. It would've been Brutus or Enobaria but they've never been particularly patient, and Lyme was a more viable candidate for the position. I wonder if they fought against each other so as to not be appointed to us. We're one of the strongest districts, to be sure, so there's no real need to worry about the tributes that come out of my district, but a mentor is usually quite necessary—makes everything equal for everyone I suppose.
If they did fight, that would've been something to see…
"Nah, I'll shower in a little bit,"
"Well, hopefully it's soon, you absolutely reek,"
I snort harshly, turning my back to her, "Leave me alone,"
I hear her sigh loudly, with an impetuous air, and I can see her eyes roll in exasperation with me. I'm a major pain in the ass, but it's fun sometimes to do it.
I sink further into the cushions, thinking about nothing for a long while, listening to the sound of my breathing.
Then she comes to mind for what seems to be the millionth time in so many minutes of the day.
I don't know why she is at the forefront of my mind at the most random of times, or subconsciously haunting the darkest corners of mind whenever I'm trying to wonder about something else, something more important. I don't know her, the enemy, the person I have to hate in order to preserve myself, and yet she's just there—this large, raw power that can't be contained burning out of her.
Sitting up, I try to shake her out of my head. There's nothing attaching me to her, nothing at all. She's just…this enigma when it comes to everybody else. A living secret that no one knows, not even the boy who trails after her like a shadow. There's not even a sense of physical lust for her, though I'd be lying if I didn't say she was good-looking—dark hair, olive skin and eyes that still remind me of home—but it's… just this desire for her essence.
Aside from the boy from 11, she will be the greatest challenge, and I know it's something that I'm terribly aware of. It's exciting, adrenaline coursing through me already at just the thought of hot pursuit. She's something that needs to be contained, which is an interesting idea to entertain however I don't want that.
I want to be the one to fight her.
Plain and simple—she'll be the greatest challenge with all that raw determination because she seems to be everything I'm not: compassionate and self-sacrificing and weak. Sentimentality has no place in the arena where you can die at any given point in time.
I never took myself to be a sick bastard of any kind—this seems almost obsessive. But when I want something, I've always gone for it. This will be no different.
"Hey, Cato," I hear Clove approach, "What are you doing?"
"Looks like you're thinking… what about?"
I shrug and let out a sigh, thinking of fire and how to touch it without getting burned.
"Nothing at all,"