She knows she is inferior. If she knows nothing else, she knows that much, at least. She cannot pin a fly to the wall with a knife like that girl can. She cannot really enjoy causing pain and senseless bloodshed like that girl can. When she looks at herself critically, she cannot do much of anything, actually. So she is not surprised when he falls in love with that girl. She is hurt, yes, and more than a little upset, but she is not surprised. She is a healer, and he does not need a healer, because never gets hurt. No, he needs that girl, someone who has his back in a fight, someone who can hold their own, someone he doesn't have to worry about.


She is surprised to see him on her doorstep one day for reasons other than running an errand. Their mothers have been friends since girlhood, and so the two of them have been acquaintances since infancy. She thinks that "acquaintances" can be replaced with "friends." She hopes so, at least. They see each other quite frequently, whether it be their mothers visiting one another, or simply running into each other in the market. But the only time he ever shows up at her doorstep alone is if he's running an errand. He's too busy training to simply drop by for friendly chatting, and she knows it. So when there's a furious pounding on her door (he never pounds the door) and a hollering of her mother's name (he always politely addresses her mother), she flies downstairs and flings the door open, expecting the worst. District 2 is a quarrying district. She hazards a guess that Cato's father has been horrifically wounded in an accident (and prays that she's wrong).

She is wrong, but not in the way she wanted to be. It is Cato, holding his side, blood staining his shirt and dripping viscously down his fingers. Without a second word, she pulls him inside helps him sit on work table.

"Lie down," she commands. He obeys, but only momentarily, as he sits back up to watch her fetch her tools: needle, thread, scissors, gauze, basin of water, washcloth, ointment. She sets these on a bench and, placing a hand on his chest, firmly pushes him back down.

"I said lie down, Cato," her voice stern and reprimanding, but she can't hide the quirk of her lips as he smirks devilishly up at her. Her heart flutters for a moment before something tells her (in the harshest tone imaginable) that this is how he smiles at every girl. That she is nothing special to him.

"Think you can manage taking your shirt off?" He actually chuckles at this one.

"You just can't resist me, can you?" Even when cut and bloodied, he manages to slide that dangerously seductive tone into his voice that has caused many a girl to swoon. She arches an eyebrow, unamused, although inside, her heart is pounding like the jackhammers that chip away at the granite quarries day in and day out. She hopes it doesn't show.

"Take it off," she deadpans, "or I'll cut it off for you, and you know I'm not all that great with knives. Who knows. Maybe my hand will slip and I might end up taking an inch of skin off along with your shirt." He sighs and rolls his eyes as he begins slowly, agonizingly tugging off his shirt, wincing as his wound is stretched further open.

"You're no fun."

"I know." The shirt now properly removed, she dips the cloth into the basin and begins to wipe away the blood and sweat, smirking lightly as he hisses in pain. Her amusement does not go unnoticed.

"This isn't funny," he growls, and she would probably be a little intimidated if it weren't for the fact that he was actually hissing in pain as she cleaned up his wound.

"No," she agrees. "This isn't funny." She pauses. "It's hilarious. How the hell did this happen anyways?" He glares at her, and she stares unflinchingly back into his icybluebeautifSTOP eyes.

"It was that little bitch Clove. She caught me with a knife during training." Her smirk grows wider as he fumes. And while she finds the whole situation hilariously ironic, that the invincible Cato has been injured, her heart cracks a little more when she can hear the undercurrent of love and admiration he has for that girl, even when he's cursing her, even when she's cut him open.

"Can you believe it. The great and mighty Cato, taken down by a girl smaller than his little sister." As much as she hates torture, she takes great joy out of puncturing Cato's ego. He snarls, both in anger and pain as she begins stitching up the wound, her fingers delicately working needle and thread, pulling together the sliced skin into something whole again. "You're lucky she didn't cut through to the muscle, or else this would take a lot longer." He grunts in acknowledgment as she continues repairing the wound, needles sliding through his skin like a warm knife through butter. "I was under the impression that the training center had an emergency room."

"Idiots over there couldn't fix a paper cut. And I was looking for your mother, but since she's not here, I have to settle for you."

"A tragedy, I'm sure," she mock-laments. "Now tell me, did you return the favor?" Cato grins at this.

"Let's just say she won't be throwing any knives with that left arm for a while." She is pleased, in a twisted way. She knows she shouldn't be. A healer should never be pleased by pain. A healer...well...heals pain. The rest of the procedure is carried out in silence. She cuts off the thread, knots it, rubs on some ointment, and wraps a strip of gauze around his waist.

"There, that should keep your stitches from tearing out. Just try not to stretch your waist too much, or I'll have to redo the stitches and you might rip your skin open again." He slams an open palm against the wooden table.

"I can't wait! I have to go back to training. The Reaping is in six months!" Her heart twists a little at the inevitable, but she keeps her face as cold and inexpressive as the granite quarries of her home district.

"Yes, I'm sure you'll make so much progress with your side torn and bleeding." She pulls on the gauze extra-hard as she ties it up, causing him to wince in pain. "See? Even that hurts. You can't train like this." He growls again and she pats his arm, half-consolingly, half-mockingly. "If it makes you feel any better, she's probably in the same state right now." He chuckles, and her heart skips a beat.


She sends him home with a small pot of ointment, a long strip of gauze, and instructions on how to change the bandages. She doesn't expect to see him again any time soon. But he shows up on her doorstep again the next day, with a polite knocking on the door and a curt utterance of her name. He bears a gift of five ribbons (blue, black, white, green, red) and makes it clear that he's only doing this on his mother's orders, and if it was up to him, he'd bring her a rock in thanks for her treatment.
"I know." She smirks, but inside, she is ecstatic with the present. She keeps one of the ribbons in her hair every day for the rest of her life.


He spends more and more time with that girl now. They are mainly seen entering and leaving the training center, exchanging snarky comments and cocky grins and loving glances. She tries not to gag. Or worse, cry. She tells herself that that girl is who he needs. That girl is strong and confident and lethal, remorselessly so. He is a warrior, and warriors have a better chance of surviving if they have another warrior watching their back. She is not a warrior, but that girl is. If she really loves him, she will want what is best for him, and she decides that that girl is best for him. So when she runs into the pair of them in the marketplace, she swallows down a sob (weak weak weak) and schools her features into a pleasant smile.

"Hello, Cato. Hey, Clove." He grins back, while that girl smirks. It is not a friendly smirk, not like his smirks.

"Hey. What're you doing here?" he asks. She sees his arm wrapped around that girl's waist and green flashes before her eyes.

"Just picking up some supplies. We're running low on needles and gauze. You?" He is about to answer when that girl rolls her eyes and cuts him off.

"Come on, Cato. The best knives'll be gone if we don't go now." And he lets that girl drag him away. She can hear that girl ask him, with a caustic edge, "Who the hell does that useless bitch think she is? Assuming that you care about the shit she has to say." She pauses, waiting for his response, praying that he stands up to her. And he rises to the occasion magnificently.

"Don't you dare talk about her like that! I care about what she has to say more than you will ever know!" he roars, causing all innocent bystanders to flinch and shy away from the towering boy. She smiles at his indignation on her behalf. It is all she needs.