A/N: Hello everybody! So this is my very first story for the Hunger Games fandom and logically, for Clato. This one is kind of a resume of their journey in the games and of how their feelings for each other slowly grow.
In District Two, there were a few words that nobody ever pronounced. Losing, defeat and other synonyms were a part of that group. But so was love. I love you was not a sentence that could be heard when calmly walking down the street. Mothers didn't tell their children they loved them because their own mothers never did either. People didn't marry out of love: they chose their life partners based on their richness, appearance and if they had Hunger Games victors in their lineage. Love was a stranger.
"Clove !" The man with spiky green hair, blue tinted skin and a weird name announced.
Clove looked around her, glaring subtly at all the girls, daring them to try and steal her spotlight. With her back straight and her head held high, she advanced towards the tribune, refusing the man's hand when he offered it and taking her place next to him. As he asked for volunteers and a silence fell on the public place, a smirk appeared on Clove's features. They were scared. Scared she would cut them. With reason.
The man next to her indicated that it was time for the boy to be chosen. He didn't have time to even pronounce the name when someone lunged forward and screamed.
"I volunteer! I, Cato, volunteer for the 74th Hunger Games."
Clove's eyes found their way to the tall and muscular blonde boy who was currently coming to join her on the tribune.
"District Two, I present to you your two tributes for the 74th Hunger Game : Clove and Cato! "
Clove extended her hand for Cato to shake and when his firm grip enveloped her weaker one, one thought came across her mind. Fuck.
When Cato and Clove were left alone for the first time since they had both been reaped, they didn't say much. Brutus and Enobaria both seemed to think that some sort of conversation needed to take place between the two of them but neither Clove or Cato wanted to start one. They were both comfortably installed in the chairs of the train wagon, facing each other. His icy blue eyes fixed on her while her green ones were looking out the window. The silence was not an awkward one; it didn't need to be filled. They were used to this. They were used to each other. They weren't strangers. They were training partners and that since the day Clove first stepped into the academy six years ago and kicked Cato square in the nuts for laughing at her tiny frame. Six years. They knew each other for six years but that streak was going to end soon enough with one, possibly two but they preferred not to consider that, of them would die. That's what was on both of their minds before Clove spoke up.
"I don't want you to die." She whispered.
"I don't want to either."
"Would you care if I got killed?"
"Yeah, but I'd prefer to have someone kill you than to have to do it myself."
They wanted the other one alive. Which is something for Careers.
Training started the next day and for Cato and Clove, the strategy was simple: intimidate. Cato with his brute strength and Clove with her slightly mental obsession with knives. Their mentors also recommended them to start forming alliances. Immediately, Cato took charge of that part and managed to get both of One and the girl from Four on their side. That night, when they went back to their quarters, Cato couldn't stop himself from exploding a little bit.
"How can he refuse to team up with us? We're his fucking best chance at surviving out there and he just says NO? "
The boy from Eleven, Thresh, had refused to join them. Cato considered him the biggest threat out there and not having him on his side slightly worried him.
"It's fine Cato, we'll just kill him. Don't worry about it. "
"I'll murder him myself!"
"I know you will. You're better than he is. "
Cato smirked at that and puffed his chest out a bit. Coming from Clove, that was a really big compliment.
They encouraged one another, in a sort of twisted way, but still.
The day had come for them to show the Gamemakers what they were capable of. Being from district Two, Cato and Clove would be respectively the third and fourth to pass. Marvel went up first, with Glimmer cheering on him and Cato telling him not to humiliate the Career pack. Ten minutes later, the blonde's name was called and she left the room to Cato's same comment. When his own turn arrived, Cato stood up from the bench and spun around to face his district partner. Their eyes locked and for a little moment, neither of them spoke.
"Don't humiliate us, I know Cato." Clove said, a little smile playing on her lips.
"I wasn't going to say that. I know you won't. I was just waiting for you to encourage me or something. "
"Yeah, not gonna happen. It's not like you need any luck, right?"
And on these words, he strolled away and into the room where he destroyed dummies with his sword and others by snapping every single body part, particularly enjoying the neck. A few minutes later, Clove made different dummies suffer, each one of them with a knife in the heart or/and the head. It was always easy for her to throw the weapon at the exact spot she wanted when she pictured the other tributes' faces.
They believed in each other.
That night, after a copious dinner, Cato, Clove, Brutus, Enobaria, weird escort and the two stylists were all sitting in the living room, waiting for Ceasar Flickerman to announce the tributes' scores. Finally, the Capitol anthem rang out and Marvel's face appeared on the screen. 9. Glimmer. 9 also. Cato and Clove exchanged looks, satisfied with the performance of their allies. They were good enough to make kills and to get sponsors, but were certainly not to beat Clove and Cato.
Cato's eyes were fixated on the television as Ceasar presented him and his score. 10. His features relaxed and he smirked when Brutus clapped him on the back saying "That's good boy, we can work with that!".
Clove was up next. Another 10. The room erupted in cheers, mostly from the stylists and the escort, but even Brutus and Enobaria let out a few.
"Not bad Clove."
"Same for you. Literally. " She responded with a teasing look on her face. She scored the same as Cato the big, strong and mighty.
Cato scowled and turned his head towards the screen once again. The scores from unimportant tributes that would probably die at the bloodbath flew by but nobody was really paying attention. When the boy from Eleven was up, Cato focused. 10. Fuck, fuck, fuck! Girl from Eleven. 7. Surprising. Boy from Twelve. 8. Killable. Girl from Twelve. 11.
For a moment, silence fell on the room. And then all hell broke loose. Cato stood up, grabbed the coffee table and threw it at the wall. And then the lamp. He was about to grab the chair he previously sat in when Brutus pushed him.
" Calm down boy! "
" Fucking bitch! " Cato roared, anger and a bit of madness tinting his voice. "I'll go to her fucking quarters and kill her now!"
"No! You're staying here and calming down! "
"Calm down? You want me to calm down? We just got beaten by fucking Twelve! How is that going to look to everybody? We're fucking Careers and she's nothing and she gets 11! " He reached out and grabbed a cushion that was on the sofa, tearing it apart as easily as if it was a sheet of paper.
Clove grabbed his wrist before he could do anything else. Her stare was severe when his eyes met it but he could feel the anger boiling inside of her. She was pissed too.
"We'll get her. We'll catch her and then we'll make her regret ever coming into these games. Regret ever thinking she had a chance against us. Understood? "
His arm fell limp and he grunted.
They were able to calm the other down.
"Smart move from the Twelve boy tonight! " Clove and Cato's escort exclaimed to the others.
"You think people bought that shit?"
"He looked weak!"
The escort giggled at their reaction, his eyes sparkling as he grabbed both of their hands and looked at them intensely with his golden eyes.
"Love children, love!" He tried to explain the grandeur of the emotion with his arms, stringing them along. "The Gamemakers loved it, Ceasar Flickerman loved it, the Capitol people will certainly adore it and even I couldn't help but gush at that sweet demonstration of love!"
Cato scoffed at that and Clove raised an eyebrow, silently planning how to chop off some of the escort's limb for saying that many times the l-word.
"It's sad we didn't think of that before they did! Maybe that strategy could have worked for the both of you, by showing a softer si-"
He was cut off by Cato pinning him to the wall, his voice low when he spoke and an unspoken threat in his words.
"We are not soft, nor will we ever be looking like total idiots like Twelve out there. Clear? "
The escort nodded and Cato shoved him not so delicately one last time in the wall before letting him go.
When Clove went to Cato's room a few hours later, she found him sitting on his bed, his head in his hands.
His head shot up. "Yeah, I was just thinking."
"Yes. And no."
"We're not soft Cato, don't worry about it."
"You didn't take it personally did you?"
"Why would I? You didn't insult me, you insulted Baker Boy from Twelve and I'm totally fine with that."
A comfortable silence installed itself between the two of them. Clove left her position against the door and came to sit on the bed with her district partner. She let herself fall on a pillow and looked up at the ceiling.
"I wish you weren't my district partner."
"Me too." Cato responded. "Be careful tomorrow."
They cared about each other.
Clove grabbed the first set of knives she saw and immediately took out the biggest one of them all. She was the first one at the Cornucopia, being the fastest due to her petite frame. The other tributes were all running to join her. Out of the corner of her eyes, she noticed Cato. Without thinking, she threw the sword that was next to her to him, yelling his name at the same time.
And then the killing began. She threw knives after knives and he slashed throat after throat. Their victim's blood splattered all over them but they didn't care. They were in their element.
At one point, Clove thought she had the bitch from Twelve and when Katniss avoided her knives and ran away in the forest, she couldn't help but lose her cool. The next kill she did, she took more time with. The boy was pinned down on the floor and she was slicing the skin on both of his arms, and then his face and she was about to cut his jugular when she heard somebody scream really close to her. She spun around, bringing her knife in the same circular movement, ending her victim's life more quickly than she intended to. Cato was standing beside her, his sword in the stomach of a poor girl.
He gave her a look and she nodded, getting back to the bloodbath.
They had each other's back.
The Careers stepped over bodies as they looked at all the supplies left at the Cornucopia. Cato, who was the unofficially declared leader, told everyone to pack bags and grab the weapons they wanted with them since they were going hunting that night.
When they left the empty field and entered in the woods, they were almost immediately met by the boy from Twelve. In a matter of seconds, he was down on the floor, Cato's sword against his throat, Marvel's spear over his heart and Clove's knives ready to meet his skull.
"Stop, stop, stop!" Peeta screamed, panic easily heard in his voice. "I want to help you guys."
"What?" All the five Careers exclaimed at the same time.
"Why would you want to help us?" Clove asked, raising her eyebrows.
"Look, you guys would be useful to me and I can be useful to you."
"In what way can you be useful to us?" Glimmer spat out, disgust evident in her features. Marina, their ally from Four, mumbled something that sounded like agreement at that statement.
Peeta opened his mouth, trying to prove his point. Cato accentuated the pressure that his sword had on the boy's neck and a bit off blood started trickling down.
"Wait. He's right." Clove said, surprising them all. "He could help us with something... in particular."
Clove smirked, briefly having eye contact with Cato before returning her gaze down on Twelve.
"Yeah right... Lover Boy's going to find his little girlfriend for us!" Cato announced with a devilish glint in his eyes as he removed his weapon away from Peeta and offered him his hand to get up. "You ain't got no problem with that right?"
"Alright then, now the plan here is that we're going to hunt the little idiots that escaped us at the bloodbath. You're going to carry this for us."
Cato handed him some of the supplies he was carrying and indicated to the others to do the same. He then turned to face Clove.
"You got us a pretty nice carrying horse there."
"Turns out he can also smell the fire, useful isn't it?"
They trusted each other's decisions.
Katniss, the girl from Twelve, was a few meters away from them. Up in a tree. They were forced to spend the night at the bottom of the tree, so they could wait her out. None of them were really happy with that decision, since they had a nice camp set up at the Cornucopia that was currently guarded by the idiotic boy from Three.
Clove decided to guard their campsite first, watching out for any movement from the girl on fire or any random tributes. It seemed to her like the whole arena was dead. Apart from the normal sounds of nature, nothing could be heard.
She watched her allies sleep, trying to figure out how long they would last. Marina? Maybe one or two more days.
Glimmer? She would personally cut that bitch as soon as possible. She was annoying, with her high-pitched laugh and touchy-feely manners. Even in her sleep, she had a tendency to reach out for one of the male tributes. How more desperate can you get?
Marvel? Strong but too stupid to make it to the end. Four more days maybe.
Peeta? Dead right after his girl.
Cato? If she didn't win this thing, he would.
She looked away from her district partner, finding out that the thought of him dying hurt her more now than it did before. To shake that feeling off, she threw a small rock at Glimmer's face to wake her up. The blonde groaned and stood up, taking Clove's place against the tree. Clove installed herself close to the once burning fire, right next to Marvel.
Not three hours later, Clove was woken up by a sudden buzzing sound surrounding her and somebody yanking her arm.
"Get up! Lake, now!" Cato screamed at her, tugging her along as he ran.
The next minutes were very fuzzy. Clove was slapping tracker-jackers, running as fast as she could, trailing a bit behind her the three boys in her alliance. When she reached the lake, she dived into it headfirst. After one or two minutes in the water, she collapsed on the shore, breathing heavily and her whole body shaking. The hallucinations were hitting her hard. It wasn't long before she fell in a deep sleep, filled with dark dreams.
When she came back to her senses, she was laying in one of the sleeping bags. She sat up, immediately noticing that she was back at their campsite.
Clove spun around, facing Cato and Marvel. "Yeah. How long has it been? What happened to the others?"
"Only one day, it's not that bad." The district One boy answered, a nice smile on his face.
"Glimmer and Marina are dead, Lover Boy tried to save his bitch from us but he paid for it. He's as good as dead now."
At the mention of the other two females in their alliance dying, Clove couldn't help but smile. She was right, as always. She knew they wouldn't last, bitches couldn't even get up and run.
But Clove felt uneasy with the whole Peeta thing, and that surprised her. She was not one to feel remorse and... shame in a certain way.
"I'm sorry."She said to the two boys.
"It's not your fault Clove, we never thought this would happen."
"Look, Peeta will die from his injury and we'll get his little girlfriend later, that's it. No worries. Now, are you up for some hunting?"
"The cripple from Ten is still alive."
Clove smirked, grabbing her set of knives and getting up to her feet. "Not for long."
All the previous feelings were swept away by Cato's unexpected positive attitude towards the situation. What she didn't know was that while it did worried him that the two tributes from Twelve escaped him, he was mostly glad she was alive.
They forgave each other.
A few days later, only the two of them were left from their alliance. Cato had snap the boy from Three's neck after his little trick with the bombs had gotten almost all the stuff they had to explode. Marvel had gotten killed the same night as the little girl from Eleven so they assumed he had murdered Rue and that Katniss girl hadn't liked it.
Only district Two was still standing for the Careers. Only Clove and Cato.
They had decided that they would both sleep at their campsite the night that Marvel's face appeared in the sky and they would divide their supplies the next morning.
The time had come for them to go their separate ways.
They were facing each other, Cato looking down at his district partner. The silence was filled with tension, which was not something usual for them. After a few minutes of staring at one another, Clove took Cato's hand in hers. She squeezed it gently, looking deeply into his icy blue eyes, before shaking it.
"Well, bye, I guess."
He shook her hand back. "Yeah, bye."
Clove turned on her heels and started walking away from the guy that she now had to consider her enemy. She was not five steps from her spot facing him when he called her name.
"You're not bad, you know?"
A soft smile appeared on her lips. "You're not bad either."
"I was glad when the others died."
"They annoyed me."
"Yeah, me too. You know, if we-"
"I know." Clove paused. "Look, I should go... "
Once again, she spun around and walked away for good, realisation dawning slowly on her.
They liked each other.
But only one of them could make it out.
Clove had never felt so lonely of her entire life. Only a day had passed since she had walked away from the only friend she had in the arena. She was currently sitting on a log, munching on a piece of bread. She was very exposed but she didn't think anybody would dare attack her. Thresh spent all his games in the field, Red was only good at hiding and surviving, those chickens from Twelve knew better than to try to kill her like this and Cato... she rather hoped she wouldn't be the first person he would try to get rid of.
Her thoughts trailed off to what the game makers were planning right now. A bit more than a day had passed ever since the last bit of action happened in the arena. They were certainly intending on doing something to please those stupid Capitol citizens.
The night was falling when the Capitol anthem was heard. Instead of the usual fallen tributes faces appearing in the sky, it was followed by the voice of Claudius Templesmith.
"Attention, attention tributes! There has been a slight... rule change. If two tributes for the same district are the last ones left standing, they will be both declared the winners. I repeat, two tributes from the same district can win. Now, may the odds be ever in your favor!"
Clove felt her jaw drop. What? Rule change? She could win with...
The tribute grabbed her backpack, slung it over her shoulder and took off running towards the Cornucopia. Cato would certainly come back there for her. Right? He would. He had to.
She wasn't disappointed when her destination came in sight. The tall blonde was sitting there, apparently waiting for her. She screamed out his name again and his head spun in her direction. He stood up, a small smile on his face as he saw her approaching.
Clove couldn't help herself. When she was close enough to him, she wrapped her arms around his body, hugging him so tightly he could barely breathe. Cato returned the embrace, feeling happy for the first time since he entered the arena.
They stayed like this for a moment, content with being in each other's arms, before Clove pulled away and looked up at him, her eyes shining.
"So, when do we start cutting these bitches? I want to go home."
"Soon enough, let's just see what the Gamemakers' next move is going to be."
"Okay, so where to now?"
"Let's just find a spot to sleep, it's getting dark and cold."
The district Two left the Cornucopia field, running in the woods in search of a hidden spot that would protect them well. Finally, after more than an hour of research, they decided to sleep in a small place between five trees really closely planted.
The abundant branches and leaves on each tree hid the two tributes from anybody who would walk around. They both seriously doubted any of the remaining tributes would come after them, but, as Clove had told Cato when he was getting sick of searching for a spot and proposed to just sleep in the open, you're never too cautious.
After Clove had taken out the sleeping bags they had gotten from the Cornucopia at the beginning, they both lied down on the floor. Clove curled up into a ball, her face facing Cato and her arms used as a pillow. He was lying his back, his arms under his head.
"It's going to be good, the both of us going back home." Cato broke the silence.
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"I'm just saying... It'll be fine by me to have you never leaving."
"I don't know... The world, me."
Clove was silent for a few seconds. "I think I'll be fine with that too."
Cato turned his head a bit so he could look at her face. She had her eyes closed and a small smile on her lips. "Four more kills."
"Four." She murmured, hugging the knife in her hand.
A feast. That was the big plan. Expected, really. It was, after all, a classic of the Hunger Games. The Capitol would give them what they needed most. For a while, Cato and Clove wondered if they should risk going but it wasn't long before they realized it was their best shot at killing the Twelve bitch. She was desperate. That little boyfriend of hers was dying and she certainly wouldn't return to her district without him. She would go.
And they would catch her.
They spent the last few hours until the feast talking about strategy. Clove insisted on being the one to get their backpack and to kill the girl. That created a pretty big argument between them, with Cato insisting that it was too dangerous.
"We're in the arena Cato, we're not supposed to be safe for god's fucking sake!"
"Let me come with you! Don't be so fucking stubborn."
"We already talked about this, you need to watch out for the other tributes! Fire bitch is not the only one left, her lover is still alive and maybe in better shape than what you thought since he still lives! And let's not forget about Red and Thresh. You need to watch out for them Cato!"
"Shut up! I'm the one killing her, clear? I don't need your help! I'm not a little girl anymore Cato, okay? " Clove screamed at him, desperately trying to get her point across.
"Alright I get it, no need to fucking scream! " He shouted right back. "Just do whatever you want, see if I care!" He snapped.
"Do you?" She inquired, saying the words as quickly as possible.
His eyes widened at the question, not expecting this comeback. He looked away from her and gave a small nod.
"Cool. So do I." Clove replied, with brutal honesty. "Now I need you to trust me with this Cato."
He nodded once again and with an unspoken agreement, they both headed towards the Cornucopia, where the feast was to be held. They ran in silence, listening to the sound of their feet hitting the ground and the fake birds around them chirping. Half a mile before reaching their destination, they stopped.
This was where they were supposed to part. Cato would start his rounds in the area and she would get their bag. They turned to face each other and, to Cato's surprise, Clove wrapped her arms around his torso and hugged him. It didn't last very long but he hadn't imagined it.
"See you later."
And then she left.
Just like that.
He had never thought the next time he would see her, she would be lying down on the Cornucopia field, a few feet away from him, a monstrous-looking boy towering over her.
In fact, now that it was happening, he wished there had been some sort of preparation for this. He was not ready for that. He could not see her die. No fucking way.
He ran towards her, his throat tightening as the more he approached, the more blood there seemed to be surrounding her. In the corner of his eye, he could see Eleven getting away, but he didn't care. Not right now. He would take care of him later. Clove needed him.
Cato fell on his knees next to her tiny body, eyes scanning her entire person. The dent in her skull is what caught his attention.
" Clove. Clove, stay with me. "
He watched as she struggled to open her eyes. She muttered his name, her voice barely audible. Shivers ran down his spine. Fear.
" Come on, stay with me okay ? We'll win this, we will you just have to hold on, you ca-"
" Stop. "
" No I won't ! Stay with me, please Clove. Don't give up. " Cato whispered, his voice shaking. His hands shaking as they pushed hair away from her face.
A weak smile appeared on her face.
" I'm not giving up Cato... I'm letting go. " She coughed a bit of blood as she tried to get the rest of her words out. " But before I do-
" Don't. Don't let go. You don't want to, I know you don't, that's not you. You hold on to everything, you're strong, come on... "
His grip on her was getting more desperate. He could almost feel the energy leaving her, he could almost touch it like he touched any other tangible things. Instead his fingers were touching her blood, covered in it actually. But she would make it, no matter how much red liquid would be on him. She was strong enough, Cato kept thinking.
" Cato... I have to. And you do too... Let go of me. And win. For me. "
Cato could feel the tears starting to stream down his face. He never cried, never. Nobody in his district ever did. But Clove affected him this way. She could do this to him. Because in order to cry, you had to love.
That thought hit him like a train would. Cato couldn't breathe for an instant as he watched drops of salted water fall upon the face of the girl he loved. That was dying.
Struggling to find words, he only nodded at what she said and brought down his lips on hers. Softly, like a feather floating with the wind, unlike anything anybody would expect from a giant looking boy like Cato.
Clove's last reserves of energy went into that moment.
After that, he looked into her eyes one last time as life left them. Words weren't needed.
He loved her and she loved him. They loved one another, like nobody in District Two ever did before.
Cato killed Thresh for her. Tore his throat out, with a sadistic satisfaction like never before.
But Cato wasn't able to win for her. He wanted to, he really did. During the first hour after he fell off the Cornucopia and into the jaws of the mutts, that was the only thing that he focused on. That he didn't succeed. After a while though, when Clove the mutt tried to bit his nose off and he got a good look into her eyes, he understood. She hadn't given up, she had just accepted. Because when you can meet death, you accept it. That at this point, letting go is the best option.
Letting go doesn't mean never getting it back. And he gets that now.
It's when Cato begs Katniss for the final blow that he smiles for the first time since she died.
They're together, finally.
A/N: Hey again ! So... yeah that was it. I hope it was coherent because I wrote the beginning months ago and I just finished this so my train of thoughts might not have been exactly the same. I apologize for any mistakes, typos, I am too lazy to edit this. Thanks for reading and leave a review please :)