A/N: It's here! I got a lot of comments about the cliffhanger, I hope I didn't disappoint. This is a long chapter. Reviews are amazing. You people are the best. Keep in mind that I'm new at this. ;)
The Price of Winning
Chapter 5, Confronted Guilt
"Wait- please don't." Katniss puts her hand up. Katniss wasn't herself. Her mind was still digesting what she had just witnessed. She had mistaken humans for animals. It's just impossible that that much blood could be shed by choice.
"Wait? I've been waiting for so long now, princess. It's time I get what I want." Cato says.
"You killed them. I saw you." She says like she never thought he would actually do it.
"Yeah, so what? It's not a surprise is it?"
"N-no but, don't you feel-"
"What? Regret? Remorse? Guilt? Nope. Not at all."
Katniss froze. She felt sweat running down her forehead and back. The cool metal she leans on, sadly, not helping. She still heard screams here and there. She was still taking everything in.
"I shouldn't be talking to you. I should be killing you." Cato says as he raises his sword.
Katniss' eyes widened, but she shifted her stance, ready to dodge anything that might lash at her. She was still in shock with everything. But when she saw the glint of his sword, only one thing came to mind. Prim.
Cato tightened his grip on the sword and lashed it through Katniss. Or at least, he was going to. But Clove gripped and held back his hand before anything could happen.
"What the hell?" Cato says.
"What is wrong with you?" Clove asks.
"What is wrong with me?" Cato pulls away his hand from her grip, "I was about to kill her!"
"Yeah, exactly. You were about to kill her, when we both agreed that I would!"
"I never agreed on it. I just said I didn't care." Cato says, "Would you rather I let her go?"
"I don't care as long as I get to kill her."
Cato and Clove both look down at Katniss who has been staring at them all this time. Cato gives her a sly smile as he pulls her up. Katniss leans on the Cornucopia, without anything to protect her. Her body shakes as she observes the arena. Just trees and grasses. Not much of a problem. Katniss spent most of her life in places like this. If only there weren't so much careers off to see her dead.
"Where's Marvel and Glimmer? And the boy and girl from three and four?" Cato asks Clove.
"Still battling it out there." Clove answers.
"I see." Cato looks at Katniss as he speaks to Clove, "Here, kill her." He picks up Katniss and throws her towards Clove.
Clove looks up at Katniss, "Not yet." she says.
Katniss takes a moment to make sense of her words. "Go, run." Clove says, "Live a few more days."
"What?" Cato asks in shock.
"You heard me princess. Run." Clove cocks her head toward the forest, signalling for Katniss to go there.
Katniss looks at Clove. Not moving even an inch, fearing that it might be a trap.
A familiar voice echoes through Katniss' ears. She looks toward where the voice came from. "Peeta."
"Why are you here? What's going on?" Peeta asks.
"Oh, what a lovely little brief reunion. Too bad it has to end. Run now Katniss before I change my mind!" Clove commands as she shows her the glint of the knife in her hand.
"What the fuck is this Clove?" Cato barks as he grabs Katniss' arm before she is able to leave, holding his sword against her throat. "If you don't kill her, I will."
"Cato, she's mine. I get to play with her. So let the girl go." Clove smirks.
Cato hesitates as he let her go, knowing that he'll regret this for sure.
"Katniss, go. Listen to her." Peeta says.
Katniss nods at him then makes a run for it. She dashes through the woods, not once looking back. She knew she had to change her direction after a while. The careers know where she passed. And when they finally decide it's time to hunt her down, they won't hesitate to kill her at all.
Just as Katniss dashed through the woods, she trips over something bulky but soft. She looks down at it, and a glimmer of hope flashed in her eyes.
An orange bag lays on the grass, someone must've dropped it. Katniss picks it up and continues down deep into the woods.
"Shit Clove! Why?" Cato yells.
"Yeah, Why did you do that?" Marvel asks after he and Glimmer were informed on the matter that took place before they arrived, "That could've been our only chance to kill her." He says.
"Wow, Marvel. Really? It might have been our only easy opportunity, but definitely not the only chance. And I thought you were that confident about your skills. The Firegirl really got you good, huh?" Glimmer says as Marvel snarls at her, "But seriously Clove, why'd you let her go?"
"Cato." Clove says.
"Me?" Cato questions, "I caused you to act this stupid?" He yells.
"Yeah you! Next time you see her, don't kill her, save her for me. Or else I might let her go again." Clove says.
"You're crazy." Cato says as he lets out a nervous laugh. He then heads back into the Cornucopia to get more food and weapons but not before kicking one of it's metal plates.
"Lets get more stuff then start to hunt for other tributes." Clove says.
"I thought girls only overreact about their looks, clothes, and shoes. But I guess some girls overreact about who to kill." Marvel whispers this to Glimmer, who apparently takes this as an insult. Cause she doesn't overreact, she believed so.
"I heard that, One." Clove says as she follows Cato into the Cornucopia.
Marvel shrugs and follows Clove together with the other careers.
Before she was able to enter the mouth of the Cornucopia, Clove took a deep breath. She knew Cato would be mad at her, he could even despise her for all she cares. All that matters is getting home now after all, she didn't care for anyone or anything, and according to her, no one in the arena was worth saving. If she could, it would probably be Cato, even though it's such a pain to be with him sometimes, he knows her well, he knows what it's like to be a career. But fortunately for Clove, he didn't too much about her, otherwise he might have suspected her of why she let Katniss go. Why she wanted Cato to be distracted for the time being. And why she wanted Peeta to join their alliance.
After she got reaped, Clove knew she could win this. But when Cato volunteered in place for some kid, the thought of winning was washed away, she knew she was dead. But then Katniss Everdeen came along and gave Cato a good enough reason for killing her, distracting him in the process. Now Clove's hope of becoming the victor was restored. Even if it meant killing Cato, she had to win this. All thanks to you Katniss, Clove thought Maybe I'll make your death painless.
Stupid. Katniss thought as she continues to run deeper into the forest, That was so weak of me! Katniss paused then punched a tree before her."For Prim, for Prim, for Prim." She said repeatedly then sighed. She stared at the tree before her then traced it with her eyes, all the way up. The tree looked strong, it had quite a fair amount of footholds, enough for her to climb it. So, she starts scaling the tree 'til it's 3rd highest branch.
When she reaches her branch of choice, she takes the backpack that she found on the ground and starts to zip it open. Her eyes fell in disappointment. Not much was inside, just a long rope, a raincoat, an empty canteen and a knife. She sighs, she would rather have a slingshot than a knife. She was never good with knives, well, she was okay, but compared to Clove she's just a sore loser. If she ever came across her, whether alone or not, she'd be dead.
At least she'll be able to cut meats or ropes with the knife, a slingshot couldn't do that, so perhaps it was good that it was a knife instead. All she has to do is keep away from the careers.
Katniss packs up her stuff then climbs down the tree and goes off to search for water. She recalls seeing a river while she was on the run, so she retraces her steps back. It took her a while to hear the faint sound of running water. She figured it was from the right, so she heads there. True enough, there was a river there. Beautiful. Great. Amazing. Katniss was glad she didn't have to try too hard to find water.
Katniss hurriedly knelt down and took out her canteen. She dipped down the container and slowly, it started to fill up.
"I get it. You're mad, just check that area will you?." Katniss hears a familiar voice behind the trees. She quickly got up and closed her canteen. She ran to a nearby bush and hid there.
"There's nothing here. I told you that already." Slowly coming to view is Cato, throwing his arms up, trying to reason with his partner that there's nothing nearby. Cato starts to come to the bank, "There's water, if that's what you're looking for." He lazily says.
Katniss hears a sigh, "Fine, just fill up our bottles before we come back." Clove, Katniss guessed. Suddenly around 3 or four bottles are being thrown nearby Cato.
"You're joking." Cato darts his eyes at her.
"I'm not, so do it. If you don't, Glimmer's getting the next kill."
"Whatever bitch." Katniss hears Cato mumble as he fills up the jugs with water. When he's finished, he doesn't move. He just looks at the opposite side of the river, then sighs. Katniss didn't know what to think of this, but it sure as hell wasn't expected.
After what felt like an hour, Cato finally gathers up the jugs filled with water then gets up and heads back to where he came from. Katniss let out a sigh of relief when she thought he'd already passed her. Well, she should've waited a minute longer before that.
Cato stops in his footsteps, "Anyone here?" He questions as he looks around the area. "If you show up, I'll be nice." He says it playfully evil, or at least that's how Katniss describes it to be.
Yeah right, Katniss thought. You're never nice. She was nervous of course. But she told herself not to chicken out like she did when she was by the Cornucopia. She just hides behind the bush and waits for Cato to give up on looking.
Unfortunately, he doesn't. "I know you're here, whoever you are." He says, almost sounding bored.
Katniss pulls out her knife, just in case he does find her and tries to kill her.
Cato starts looking behind rocks and checking on trees but finds nothing. Katniss' heart thumps louder and louder as he starts swinging his swords through all the bushes he could find. And just as he was about to swing his weapon through the bush she was hiding behind, she ducks as quick as possible, making a loud thud in the process. Busted.
Cato smirks as he hears the thud. He starts to brush away the leaves that make up the bush, "You should've come out earlier like I-" He pauses as he sees Katniss holding up a knife towards him. He starts to burst into laughter, "So soon?"
Katniss just stares at him, she's probably making sure that he won't make a move on her. Damn she's a pain. "Come here," He attempts to pull up Katniss but she swung her knife across his hand before he was able to, making him jerk his arm. "Well, that hurt." He says as he wriggles the blood off his palms. "Look, just relax, I can't kill you anyway. Clove's rules." He says. But he would really like to. You know, kill her, or at least he thinks so. But Clove would just do something to piss him off and stuff, when all he really wants to do, is have fun, so he might as well go with the flow.
So, Cato once again, attempts to pull her up but she swings her knife again before he could succeed. Fortunately, he hasn't been wounded this time. "Clearly a knife wasn't the one that got you that eleven." He teases, "You missed."
"To hell with you." Katniss says bluntly.
"Well you seem different from our last encounter. Back at the Cornucopia you were awfully weak. Just like I thought you were the first time I saw you." Cato smirks.
"The first time I saw you, I thought you were a bastard. You haven't changed much."
Cato scowls, "You think your better than everyone here, huh?" He says as he tries to grab her again, though this time, he finally succeeds. Before she was able to swipe her knife through his hand once more, he gripped her wrist, so hard, that the knife she held fell on the ground.
Cato feels a wave of an unfamiliar feeling rush through his body. He grabs Katniss' knife and points it at her after he lets go. "You move, you die. Got that?" He says. Katniss just gives him a confused look. Where the hell are you Clove? Cato wondered as he looked all over the place he was in.
"You said you couldn't kill me." Katniss states, "Now you're saying if I move, you will?"
Cato looks at her as she places herself in a sitting position and looks at him like he's crazy. "I can't. But Clove never said anything about me wounding you so badly, that you wish I would just kill you instead." He smirks.
"Right..." Katniss backs up to the boulder behind her, then suddenly her face reflected curiosity.
"What?" Cato hisses.
"Why won't you kill me?" Katniss asks.
"Are you stupid? I just told you I can't." He barks.
"Oh you can. But you're not allowed to. So I'm asking why not."
Cato lets out a laugh, "Because Clove wants to be the one who ends you. She hates you. A lot."
"Is that why she let me go?" Katniss says sarcastically.
Cato throws the knife he pointed at Katniss to the ground and replaces it's place with his sword, "Don't play smart with me. She let you go for a different reason. Not everything is about you Katniss."
"That was your punishment right? For trying to kill me even though she was supposed to."
Cato slides his sword across Katniss' cheek before she jerks to the side. There it is again, that feeling that's just so unfamiliar.
"You must at least regret that, right?" Katniss pushes, "I mean, if you hadn't tried to kill me, she would've done it and I would have been dead right now."
That's it, Cato thought. Regret, remorse, guilt. That was the foreign feeling that rushed through his body. Every emotion he didn't feel after he killed all those people. Yet when he so much as touches Katniss, he feels it all at once. Cato couldn't help but let out a nervous laugh. Which results to Katniss looking at him like he's crazy again. Cato's laugh, very slowly fades into a cold, almost deadly look.
"Idiot!" Cato yells as he kicks the tree next to him. Then, he sits down and leans against it. He hits his head with his fist repeatedly, saying "Stupid, stupid, stupid." with his eyes closed. It was only normal that Katniss thought he went pyscho, and that's not exactly a good thing. But Katniss tries to make the most of it. Katniss slowly sneaks out, trying as much as possible to stay unnoticed. When she thought she was out of sight, she gets up then sighs. Then she turns around and runs back to her tree. Without Cato noticing at all. She couldn't help but smile.
"Cato?" Clove calls out to the blonde career who's currently pounding his hand against the tree before him and cursing himself. "What's wrong?"
"Why'd you let her go?" Peeta hears Cato mumble.
Cato turns around, "Oh, um...nothing. I just cut myself." He says as he shows them his palm. Peeta thought it was sort of odd how he would get that angry about a cut, but he let it be, like he always does.
"Are the jugs filled?" Marvel asks.
Cato snarls at him, "Yeah, they're filled. Since a prick like you can't do shit, I filled it." He says.
Marvel just put on a smug look on his face.
"We should start to set up camp." The girl from four suggests. "Twelve are dead and twelve are alive. We're seven so that only leaves us with five threats. I don't think it would be much trouble if we settle for now."
When the careers start to look at her like she's crazy, Peeta steps in, cause he felt like he needed to. Plus, it would mean that the time they that might come across Katniss would be put on hold. "I agree." He starts to say, "The chances of the five of them joining forces are thin, so if they were to come at us, they would probably be in a group of three, tops, and we're seven, so it won't be a problem." Peeta shrugs.
"All right, Loverboy." convinced, Cato says, "Let's do that."
It was already night, and they had already set camp. On the way here, they had even killed a female tribute who was stupid enough to start a fire in the evening. So that meant thirteen dead and aside from Cato's pack, only four were roaming around the arena. Cato had nothing to worry about at all.
He, Clove, Marvel and Glimmer sat around the campfire they made. He wasn't really listening to what they were talking about because it really wasn't that interesting to him. He looked behind his shoulder and saw Peeta almost drifting into sleep on his sleeping bag. Cato stood up then heads toward Peeta. He pulls the blonde boy up before he could loose consciousness. Cato dropped him down in a sitting position then takes a seat across him, "Let's have a little chitchat, shall we?" Cato asks.
"W-why?" Peeta questions as he rubs his eyes.
"Why not? We're allies aren't we?" Cato smiles.
"It doesn't change the fact that you'd kill me if I wasn't any use to you." Peeta says.
"True, but that's not the case." Cato smirks, "So tell me about Katniss. You know, strengths, weaknesses, maybe, how she got that eleven, something! You want to be of some use, don't you?"
"She- uh attacked the pig's apple."
"What?" Cato asks, he doesn't understand anything the boy from twelve was saying, or trying to say.
"Exactly what I said."
"Okay..." Cato says, still not understanding. "What did she use to do that?"
"That, I can't tell you."
Just then, Marvel, Clove and Glimmer take a seat around Peeta's sleeping bag. "We want in on your conversation," Clove says.
"Yeah, tell us about your girlfriend. What's her name again, Katniss?" Glimmer says.
"Give us details on her." Clove says.
"Like the boys she dated, if she's good in kissing, in bed or-" Glimmer gets cut off.
"-that's not what I meant by details. I was talking about her skills." Clove says, "But that will have to do." She smiles, "Even us careers get to have a little gossip around here. Most of us will die anyway."
"I'm not." Cato says.
"Shut up, Cato." Clove says then turns to Peeta, "So is she?"
"Is she what?" Peeta wonders.
"Good in bed?" Marvel, Clove and Glimmer simultaneously ask.
"What the hell? Why would you even ask that? We should be learning about useful ways to find her, not- not this." Cato stands up, "I'm leaving." He says as he starts to walk away.
"Oh, but Cato, don't you want to find out if she's as good in bed in real life as she is in your dreams?" Clove teases.
Cato freezes in his steps. All eyes were on him. Clove, his ally, his partner, his annoying so-called "friend" just told the entire world about his dream, or at least what she thought it was about. But that's even worse.
"Hell Cato, is it true?" Marvel asks.
A/N: Okay! Done. Still okay? Not too weird? Keep the suggestions on what other couple you would like to see. Clove/Peeta is getting a lot of votes. So? Review? Favorite? Suggest?
Read on! =)