Year One

Clove's Mother

I take a glimpse at the crying, tear-streaked bundle in my arms.

She was born only five minutes earlier. She's been in this world for five minutes.

Her blankets are covering her entire body, and her face morphed in miniature grief. Her cries are loud, but my love for her louder.

She is my joy. She is my world.

Her name is Clove.

She is Clove because she is a flower.

A dried flower. But a flower nonetheless.

A small thought - perhaps foreshadowing - blossoms in my brain.

She will survive the heat of the desert sun. The endless beating that they'll give her. But she won't give in. She will persevere - my Clove.

They'll try to make her believe that she's nothing - they'll try to make her believe a lie.

There's nothing they can do to get in her way. My Clove is cunning. My Clove is tough. My Clove has something the others don't - pure determination.

And there's no stopping her until the heat becomes too much - until my blossom turns to ash.

Year Two


The world swirls. I turn. Colors spin. I laugh.

There is another one. She is a friend. She likes to laugh, too. Her name is… I don't know how to say it. I call her Clo.

I can't talk very well. I get it, but it's hard to say my words out loud.

Pa has been teaching me words. He says this green stuff is grass.

Grass is soft.

Pa also tells me who I am. The parts he knows about me, or the things I must be. He says my name is Cato. I am my father's son. I am a leader. I am a wor-e-or.

I don't know what a wor-e-or is. So I ask. Pa looks away and tells me that I will find out later.

Pa says I am not a fal-your. I can't be a fal-your. If I am a fal-your, I will lose someone I love.

Year Three


Running. Smiling. Laughing. More running. No time to breathe, but happy.

More running. Can't breathe. Tiredness. Stopping. Seeing him go farther into the streets, getting smaller. Leaving without me.


He's gone, I think sadly. Cato has disappeared from my sight.

But it's okay. He comes back. He always does.

Year Four


"Cato, stop it! It's getting in my eyes - ow!" Clove yells, her hand reaching to her face in surprise and pain.

I stop quickly and widen my eyes. "I'm so sorry, Clove! Are you okay?!" I hold out my hand to help her up.

Instead of taking my hand, she slaps it away, leaving a sting. "Yeah, I am." She says, squinting her eyes. "No thanks to you."

"I tried to help!" I say.

"And you didn't!" She argues back, stomping her feet.

We pretend to be mad until one of us - which was Clove this time around - breaks into a smile.

"Just kidding," she says happily, sticking out her tongue. "I can't stay mad at you for long."

Year Five


"Clove," my mother sings, "don't you want to invite Cato to your birthday party?"

"No! Mommy, I told you he had something else to do. Cato can't come."

"Okay, sweetie. Just a thought." She looks away quickly.

Year Six


"So… do you wanna go on the swings, Cato?" She smiles shyly; not embarrassed, but not entirely comfortable.

I was about to answer Clove's question when something interrupts me.

Maximum jumps up to me, tackling me down the the ground. "Cato!"

"Max, quit it! I was talking to Clove."

"Clove?" Max laughs. "She's a girl. Guys don't play with girls."

I shrink back. "Why not? There's nothing wrong with it."

He rolls his eyes, his hands on his hips in a sassy pose. "Dude, it's like you guys have a crush on each other or something."

"What?!" I yell, several notes higher than normal. My voice cracks a little, and I am surprised. "N-no! What's wrong with you? I don't like her!"

Clove looks away, wide-eyed and red. "I don't like him!" she squeals, disgust plastered on her face. "T-that's weird. I'm leaving." She starts skips away, a limp in her step as if she didn't want to leave.

"Clove! Max is stupid - he didn't mean it. Clove…!" I reach out, trying to grab her hand. I only grazed her fingers, watching as she walked away.

"Haha," Max exclaims, pointing at me giddily. "You have cooties!"

"I do not! Max, j-just shut up…"

Year Seven


I don't know. I just ran. I don't know why I ran, I just - did!

I didn't want to, but I cried. I cried, tears dripping down my face and a sob coming from my lips. It wasn't fair! I didn't do anything to Cato, but he acted mean to me like it was his job. Like he was born was to tease me.

How dare he make fun of my pigtails? My mother woke up early every morning, just to make my black locks into a masterpiece of braids and twists. This was basically her way of telling me how much she loved me - a message in my hair that I could wear everyday to school, and throughout the entire day.

As if he could wear my pigtails better than I can, I thought bitterly, seizing a clump of grass between my fingers. Rooting up the grass and wildflowers, I crumbled up the greenery into miniscule bits.

It's like he's jealous or something.

As the pieces of grass hovered to the ground, I briefly imagined that stupid Cato was the grass - for a second, a mere second.

Despite my tear-streaked face and sticky hands, a smile spread across my face. Maybe one day, one day when we're both 18, I'll volunteer for the Games. And in the Arena, I'll rip him to shreds; just like this grass.

Year Eight


Max shakes my shoulders roughly, bouncing with excitement. "Did you hear? Clove has the top rank for girls at the Training Center!"

I ignore him.

Year Nine


A voice waved towards me the other day. The voice belonged to a certain boy named Cato.

It was weird, seeing a face I've ignored for two years straight. Even more strange, it didn't seem like he held any grudge. The greeting was simple enough, but what nagged at the back of my brain was: Did he really forget? Did he really forget what he did to me?

From a distance, it looked like he was greeting someone he didn't know. But - he knew me, right? He couldn't have forgotten.

But maybe it's better if he forgot…?

I don't want to remember about what happened two years ago. I'm not sure if I care anymore, but it was the fact that it happened when we were smaller. It's rooted deep in our past…

But not anymore. Why should I hold a grudge if he doesn't?

I guess it's time to start over.

Flower petals blow by, merged with the wind as they twist by the traffic and walking bypassers. It's spring-time. The perfect season for starting over. Scrapping bad habits. New beginnings.

Maybe Cato hasn't thought this far, but I have. I will take the chance to start over.

Year Ten


One thing I have noticed throughout the years is that my classmates are always different, each semester.

Last year, Kanzie and Aris were in my class. But then they were transferred to a different one, along with plenty others.

No one stayed in the same classroom as I for longer than two years. So our friendship had only lasted for, at most, two years.

But another thing I noticed is that there is one constant in my ever-changing classroom. Weirdly enough, it's that girl. Clove.

A few times each year, Mum drags me towards the sofa in the living room and forces my sisters and I to have 'family time'. She looks through each photo album and points to each unfamiliar face. The majority of unfamiliar faces in my baby pictures belong to Clove.

At least, she was an unfamiliar face until last year. I've been noticing a pattern; she's been in my class since Year Two. And yet, I've never stopped to talk to her. Even if we were childhood friends, it feels… alien to approach her, after almost six years of silence.

"H-Hi." I say intelligently, standing in front of her desk awkwardly.

She has an expression filled with pure boredom, as her eyes cast upwards. But when she sees my face, the only emotion left on her face is confusion; her eyebrows are pitched upwards in a quizzical manner.

"Can I help you…?"

"N-No, I'm fine. I just… wanted to say hi."

Great. Now it looks like I'm crushing.

She looks skeptical, but doesn't question it.

"Well. Hi to you, too." She smiles.

I nod, clumsily trekking back to my seat.

That went fairly well. Maybe we can be friends.

Year Eleven


"Hah! That's hilarious! I'd so do that." I laugh, my face widening into a smile.

"Yeah. I'm funny, right?" Cato replies, rolling his eyes in a sarcastic manner. It was as if he didn't believe in his own humor.

"Actually, you really are. That was too funny."

"You really think so?" He asks, skeptical.

"'Course. I can't fake a laugh. Heck, I can't fake anything, Cato." I chuckle as if to ease a light tone onto the words - and also to shield the truth, if briefly.

The bell rings, signaling the end of school.

He gets up, and salutes me in a rigid posture. "I will see you…" Cato points to the door with both hands. "Tomorrow."

"All right. I guess we'll meet then." I give him a reassuring smile as we both exit the door, but down different hallways.

Year Twelve


"Pff. Cato, you are honestly the stupidest person I've ever met. What the hell is wrong with you?" Clove exclaims, setting down her sandwich and glaring at me dead in the eye.


"Just shut up."


"Haha." She squints her eyes, scowling. "Very clever."

"You mean, very cleaver."

She finally breaks into a half-hearted smile. "Okay, fine. I'll give you that - it was a knife pun."

Year Thirteen


"Clove, don't tell me about your boy troubles. I'm a guy myself, and this is really awkward." Cato shrugs, looking away. From a single glance, anyone could tell he was uncomfortable with the conversation topic. Uneasiness shined from his face like a beacon.

I roll my eyes, crossing my arms smugly. "Who gives a damn? You're my best friend, Cato. You're supposed to tolerate my problems and rants."

He narrows his eyes. "And reply with smartass comments, no?"

I scoff, shaking my head. "Just stop."

"Okay, whatever, your Majesty." Cato rolls his eyes defiantly.


"Have you heard what those girls have been saying about us?" I exclaim, breaking the tension with a topic that was ten times more awkward.

"What? What are they saying? Are they insulting you?!" He looks truly shocked - even a bit angry.

I roll my eyes in the most genuine way possible. "No, nothing like that, Cato. They're saying we're a couple. Psh. That's bull, am I right?"

Cato has an appalled look on his face. "Holy - are you serious?!"


"They're just stupid. You know that, right? They could never understand what's between us."

"That sounds oddly like a romantic one-liner." I smirk, wiggling my eyebrows.

"It's not." He's scoffing. "Trust me. I don't think I could like you in that way, even if I tried."

"Can you really force yourself to like someone?"

A long pause.

", I guess not."

"Then don't."


Year Fourteen


Something about Clove makes me feel light-hearted. Yet ironed to the ground at the same time.

It was weird to think about liking her. Somedays, I'd tease her to no end and we'd feel like best friends, and nothing more. Other days, we'd promptly flirt, and I'd get so nervous that I'd immediately switch the topic.

I could tell she felt the same way, but neither of us cared to directly tell our feelings. It was completely fine the way it was, and nothing needed to be changed.

It was strange. But nice. Sort of like a fantasy.

Year Fifteen


"Fuck. They chose us - us! - to volunteer! Do you know what this means?!"

He knows exactly what the answer is, but hesitates to put his theory into words. "It's… only one of us is coming out alive...?"

I grimace, thinking of all the possible outcomes that could happen in the Arena. "Yes, Cato. That's exactly what's going to happen."

"It also means… we won't be together. It won't happen, huh."

I twist my face into one of scorn. "Forget it. It wasn't going to work anyway."

Cato narrows his eyes. "What? Why not?"

I pause. "Because… you're too… I'm too…" I scoff, raising my arms in disdain. "It just wouldn't work, okay? Trust me."

"I still don't get it. It could be possible, Clove." He's fuming, clenching and unclenching his fists involuntarily.

", it's not!" Anger spreads across my face. "Just - just drop it! We can't change shit now, it's already too late. We're both going into the Games. One of us is going to live, and the other is going to die - or we're both going to die. Which do you prefer?!"

He starts to raise his voice. "Well, what if we did things differently? We both could've lived here - no fear of the Games, you know. It could've worked. We can just not volunteer."

"Guess what? We didn't do things differently. We are going into the Games. There is a completely valid chance that both of us will die. There is absolutely everything to fear. Face it, Cato - 'us' can't happen. Even if we didn't volunteer, I can't imagine us being together. It's over, okay?" I feel like crying but rage overtakes the sadness anyday. "We'll just have to live with it. Why? Because this is real life. Not some fantasy."


We only glared at each other when we both mounted the stage, forced to raise the other's hand in District pride.


These days, the only thing we can agree on is Game strategy.

"We're definitely recruiting that District Twelve girl, or else she's a huge target," Cato remarks, fascination etched clear onto his face. He eagerly scribbles some notes onto a piece of paper. I feel a spark of jealousy push out of my throat, but I ignore it. Envy is childish. No point of it in the Games, where everything is hopeless and killing is the only means of survival.


During the Interviews, Cato acts as if he was a 'bloodthirsty killing-machine' and drones on and on about the way he was going to slaughter each tribute in the Arena.

"I am vicious and ready to go," he announces, as he rises up from the leather seat.

The way he handles this infuriates me. It's not the Cato I know, and I hope 'it' doesn't infest my best friend before it's too late.


I feel the adrenaline course through my body as the timer goes lower, lower, lower.

So low to the point that the numbers turn to a slim "O" - the countdown is over.

Spontaneously, I burst through my pedestal in a race to get to the Cornucopia. It's my job, as leader of the Careers, to constantly guard our main supply hoard that was hidden in the mouth of a golden horn.

Sunlight sparkles against the scorching metal, and when I get to the horn, a few Careers are standing right beside me with the same expression - battle rage.

I immediately snatch a weapon - a sword - and transition myself in my war stance.

A different feeling surges through me, giving me the power that I only could access when holding a lethal weapon. It makes all my thoughts go red, and… hungry. Despite my fatal actions, my mind was completely at peace.

Peace… freedom.

This… thing... that was controlling my body, that was murdering innocents - it wasn't me, but it felt so much more relieving than the stress I had to tolerate in reality. I didn't have to think, and with a flick of a hand, another opponent was down. Too simple, really.

Perhaps I wasn't myself - perhaps I was becoming into a monster - but this life was much easier. It's much easier to let go, I think to myself hazily as another dull scream pierces my hearing. Let go.

...and sometimes, the benefits of evil outweigh the cons.


She's had this horrified look on her face ever since the Bloodbath. She can't stand to look at me straight in the eye. It's different. Too different. I wish I could take it back - take it all back.

Lover Boy points towards a tree. "Look! She's up there!"

Maybe I'll take it back later.

Katniss is straddled up around the branches, approximately twenty feet above the ground. She crosses her arms smugly, flaunting the orange backpack she hung up on another branch nearby.

"How's everything with you?" she asks, pursing her lips confidently.

"Well enough. Yourself?" is my smartass reply.

She cocks her head, as if pondering over her next answer. "It's been a bit… warm for my taste. The air's better up here." She smiles challengingly. "Why don't you come up?"

I narrow my eyes, whipping out a spear. "Think I will," I snarl, using the spear to prop myself up the branches, one by one.

Her eyes widen as soon as the crack is heard. Fuck!

In a spur of moments the branch that withheld me for so long breaks off, leaving me to fend from the heights. As soon as gravity plays into motion, I topple to the ground with a sickening crunch.

"Don't worry, Cato, I'll get her!" Glimmer exclaims, arching her bow into place. She pulls out a glistening, silver arrow and poises it to where it would hit Katniss.

It was a shame that Glimmer was such a failure with ranged weapons. She barely pulled the arrow back before she let go, while it thunked into the bark a good eight inches below Katniss's branch.

Before, there was a spark of fear in her eyes that melted into mischief. She plucked the missile from the trunk, waving it around and gloating merrily.

"You better climb down right now, or I'll make you climb down!"

Clove rolls her eyes.

"Come on, guys," Peeta mutters half-heartedly. "It's not like she's going anywhere. Let's just camp out here. There's no way she'll escape without one of us knowing."

Clove nods, seeming reluctant. "Yeah. I'll take first watch."

After a few more minutes of arguing, I grudgingly agree to take second watch and this hour of sleep.

My conscious fades…

...and I'm awoken by the unmistakable sound of buzzing.


A week later, she strikes again.

First the scores. Next the tracker jackers. And now… this.

I know it's her. It's got to be her. It has the name 'Katniss' written all over it.

In every burn mark. Every scorch line. Everything points to the infamous "Girl on Fire".

He's right next to me. His eyes widened in guilty shock. His hands trembling like he wants to run, like he can run. But no. There's no running from me.

It's his fault. His and the girl's. He planted the bombs. He didn't keep watch. And then she activated Armageddon.

Rage surged through my arteries once more. Here it comes again.

In a split second, my hands tear apart the boy's life in a clean, perfect snap. His neck ripped into two like a malicious child tearing the wings off an innocent, harmless butterfly.

But butterflies can start big things. With a flutter of their beautiful, crystallized wings, they can raise Hell.

Hence, the butterfly effect.

He's a butterfly. A weak, pitiful butterfly with potential. Too much potential.

He's ruined. Can't breathe. His neck is buried with a red, opaque liquid. Where there once was full of air, there was now blood. He's gone, but the harm was already done.

"When we find her," I snarl, fury etched in each pocket in my voice, "I kill her in my own way, and no one interferes."


Clove and I ignore each other as if we were regular, bloodthirsty Careers. As if we've never met before until now.

Perhaps we were regular, bloodthirsty Careers. I knew deep down, I was one of them. I didn't deserve to live. Not sure if the same could be said about her. But I wanted her to live. Deep down.

Perhaps it would be better if we kept acting distant. If I disgusted her, if this meant a better chance of survival for her, so be it.

But even a blind eye can see that my selfishness overpowers over my want for her well-being anyday.

My Career act was the root of my being. Was all I've ever known.

My want for Clove to live simply wasn't as pure as that.

And I hated myself for it.


"Holy… Cato! Wake up! There's - the announcement! We can go home! Both of us!"

I can't see straight. My vision is more dizzying than the hallucinations that came from the tracker jacker stings. Raising my hand, I slap at the air as if it could help put a stop to this headache.

No. It's only Clove, shaking me ferociously. "Did you hear that? They said… they said we can both go home! Together!"

"What?! Are you serious?!"

"Of course! I wouldn't joke about something like this. It's - it's perfect! What a coincidence!"

I felt an urge to correct her - not a coincidence, it's only happened to spare the pair from Twelve. But we could ultimately change this route to make it more advantageous for us.

"This… this is great!"

"I know!"

She grapples me in a relieved hug, her arm wrapped around my neck, nearly choking me. The most brotherly embrace possible.

"Cato, you're not a monster. So please. Promise me you won't hurt anyone unless it's to protect yourself. As long as I live, you're not doing such a thing."

"Of course. I'm just… this is so amazing, Clove."

Moments like these make me glad that things have stayed the way they were since age thirteen. Moments like these make me wonder if I really want to be more than friends.

But in this moment, I just want to go back home to District Two with my best friend, Clove.


The Feast.

The Feast the Feast the Feast the Feast the Feast

Burned into my




She was



It was



Always her

Ruining me

And everything

I love

Clove was going

Kill her

Right there

So easy

But he





My Clove



I didn't

Kill her!"


In her eyes

But he

Only rage

In his eyes



Death searching


On her

Best friend

Fire runs away

Takes something

...her life







With me



Eyes are


No reaction

Breath gone

Heart stopp








For a long



"Shoot me…" I grunt, "and he goes down with me."

My arm is around Peeta. He's choking. His skin turning blue. But I don't care. There is nothing to care about, after she's left me. I promised not to hurt anyone for any reason other than self-defense when Clove was alive. But she's not. Alive. Not anymore. I don't have to abide to the rules.

She reacts swiftly, like a deer. Taking one of her three arrows and directing it at me., my hand.

Dull pain spreads from around that area, and in shock, and I let go of Peeta. Watching as he regains his breath. Toppling down to the floor. Wolves. Teeth. Blood. Pain.

Clove. As a wolf.

She regards me with nothing in the ebony eyes I knew so well - but that's impossible! My Clove - she always - emotions - but now - nothing.

I'm sorry! I want to scream, shout at her. This is all my fault. I'm so sorry. I wanted - needed to save you. But I couldn't. I let you down. Please… I'm sorry.

Nothing. No reaction. Cold, dead eyes. Cold, dead eyes that belonged to Clove. Lying eyes.

Despite the fact I knew it wasn't her, I still felt disappointment. It rained down into my veins like an iced river, feeling as fiery as a lake in Hell. I couldn't save her. In the end, I was just a disappointment. An failure.

"Pa says I am not a fal-your. I can't be a fal-your. If I am a fal-your, I will lose someone I love."

But I am, I argue sadly, I'm a failure because I can't even keep the one person that matters most to me safe.

When the time of Death rolls around for me, I'm practically begging for it. There's nothing worse than this emotional… torture. I'm a horrible person. I'm a monster. I don't deserve to live. I can't live. The pain… pain everywhere is too much.

Please, I mouth. Her eyes widen in pity. She understands.

Perhaps Fire isn't so heartless after all.

Right before the arrow enters my skull, I think of her.

My Clove.

A birthday tribute to a friend of mine, Emma (dreams and desperation). Despite our major downfalls, somehow we end up repairing our shaky friendship once more. I guess it means something? Here's to another year of being friends. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! :D