Chapter 1: Lover Boy
My platform was risen up. All 24 of us were facing a huge cornucopia filled with items. My hands itched to get on at least a couple items. I knew they would be able to help me during the Games. I peeked at Katniss. Her chestnut brown hair fluttered in the wind, kissing her cheeks. Her chocolate colored eyes darted from place to place on the cornucopia, looking for… whatever. Her eyes lock on something, and I follow her gaze. A bow and arrow. Her best weapon.
NO! Everybody knows that the first confrontation at the cornucopia is a bloodbath. At least half of the tributes die. Katniss catches my eye. I shake my head at her. If she dies, I may as well kill myself. I could not live without her. The buzzer rings. Katniss scowls at me as the buzzer rings. The Careers charge off, grabbing the weapons first, and behind them come other tributes, mainly grabbing food and other necessary supplies. And Katniss! I sprint off after her.
She grabs a couple items, but can't make it to the bow and arrow. The girl from District 2 chucks a knife at the boy standing right next to Katniss, fighting for an orange backpack. He pukes blood on her arm, and I gag.
NO! I see the girl throw another knife, this time at Katniss, but she blocks it with the pack and runs to the woods. I grab the bow and arrow, thinking to give it to Katniss if I see her again, and I'm stopped by Cato.
"So, your girlfriend ran off without you," he sneers. I wince, preparing for an attack… that doesn't come. All the other tributes are either dead or gone. Now it's just me, Cato, and the other Careers standing in front of the cornucopia. Cato laughs at my wince.
"Hey, calm down. I saw your strength in training. You were good. Want to join us? We can win this," Cato says. I nod. I have been watching Cato carefully. He definitely has something in it for Katniss. She DID get a better score than him, after all.
"Good," He nods at the bow, "May I?" I hand it over, wary, because I had wanted to give it to Katniss, but since I was outnumbered, they could easily take me out and I could never see her again. He rolls it over in his hands, all the while nodding. He gives it to the girl from District 1. She puts it in her own pack.
"So…," he puts a hand on my back, smiles, and leads me and the Careers toward the woods, "You and Katniss, huh…"
After the death of a girl who started a fire in the middle of the woods (not smart on her part), I rejoined the Careers. "She's done with," I say, feeling guilty I couldn't have helped the girl in any way. Cato nods.
"Good. Time to go, anyway." The Careers walk on.
"Hey!" I call, "I dropped my knife! Go on, I'll catch up, I'll try to find it here." I bend over and start running my hands over the ground. The Careers shrug and resume walking. I wait a while, still pretending to look, when I peek at Katniss. The whites of her eyes practically glow, but when she sees me looking at her, she scrambles to escape. She unties a belt tied around her thin waist, but apparently she was hanging partly upside-down. She goes crashing to the ground, but before she hits, I dive and catch her. Her hair is flowing across my left arm, and her tiny body is scrunched in a ball, as if she was preparing for the impact of the ground.
My heart is beating hard, as this is the closest I have really been to her. I quickly put her down after catching her and run off after Cato. Hopefully she doesn't relize her fall was soft because someone caught her...
My chest is on fire. The wild forest fire that was recently extinguished still left ashes floating in the air, that sear my lungs with every inhale. Not to mention I burned my chest, too.
Walking along the forest floor, I look up, which I have been doing lately, now that I have found out that Katniss most likely sticks to the trees. Soon, we come across a pretty tall tree, and there sits Katniss, near the top, gazing at her hands. Has she been burned? I bite my lip, worried, then stop, and peek at Cato. He shifts his gaze away from me, quickly. She smiles sweetly at us, mainly at Cato, but I see a quick glance in my direction.
"How's everything with you?" she called.
"Well enough," says a boy from District 2, "Yourself?" She taps her chin, pretending to consider this, then says "It's been a bit warm for my taste." I chuckle silently at her cleverness. "But the air's better up here. Why don't you come up?" Then I begin to panic.
"Think I will," says District 2 boy. But Cato stops him. District 2 girl offers Cato Katniss' bow and arrows, but he declines. I see the want for that bow in Katniss' eyes. Cato takes a sword, and starts to climb. He breaks a branch. So do a couple other Careers. I calm down a bit.
Glimmer, the girl with the bow, tries to shoot at Katniss. But Katniss grabs the arrow after it lodges itself in the tree trunk. She waves it, gloating. I smile again.
"Oh, let her stay up there. It's not like she's going anywhere. We'll deal with her in the morning," I say, harshly, hoping that will repay Cato for him seeing me smiling at Katniss. He squints at me, agrees, and we spread out around the trunk. I sit right below Katniss. But not, you know, in case she might fall or anything…
Night falls, and Katniss is tied safely to a branch. I volunteered to stay awake, as guard, and so I watch her sleeping. I see some movement, but it is too dark to see exactly what's going on. Soon I hear sawing, and the ruffle of a falling branch. It lands away from me, but I get stung by… something.
"TrackerJacker's!" a boy yells. We scatter, running to the lake, and I get a couple stings: one to my cheek, one to my arm, and one to my stomach. I see Katniss looking guilty from above, but I forgive her, obviously. What else is a boy in love supposed to do?
Cato vs. Peeta
I stand up, listening to Cato curse under his breath as he makes his way to shore, still woozy from the Track Jacker stings. Man, they hurt. They're swollen, pus-filled, and… gross. Cato pushes past me.
"Finally found that little b*tch! She is going to PAY!" Cato screams. Uh, oh. Hopefully he doesn't mean Katniss. I run ahead of him, shouting back, "I'll grab her so she can't run away!" But Cato grumbles.
I crash into a clearing. Then I see Katniss crouched over Glimmer's dead body. She's grabbing for the bow and arrows. I could never hurt her.
And I have to stop Cato. "What are you doing here?" I hiss. She just sits there, cradling the bow and arrows. "Are you mad? Get up! Get up!" I tell her. I could just pick her up, throw her over my shoulder, and carry her to safety, but Cato is coming any second. "Run! Run!" I scream. I have to do something. So I shove her, and she finally starts running.
Cato jumps on my back. I am face-planted on the ground. I turn onto my back, him still sitting on me. His sword is 2 inches from my face.
"I heard you," he growled.
"What? Heard me s-say what? I didn't say anything," I stammer.
"I heard you, Lover Boy," he growls with a sneer. Then he takes a knife from his pocket and whips it at my head. It misses by only less than an inch. I see it sticking into the ground out of the corner of my right eye. Cato gets off me.
"Now you're going to get it!" he yells, raising his sword to stab me. I grab the knife and dive out of the way. His sword sticks into the ground. I take this as my chance to attack. I lunge at him with the knife, and it slices his shoulder. He winces, and that's it. Crap. He swings his sword at me, and we duel for some minutes, blocking, and occasionally getting a scrape or cut or so on the opponent.
Then Cato corners me. I back up a bit, trying to give me some room. But he follows, and soon I trip on a vine. The knife flies from my hand, 2 yards away. I am on my back, scrambling away. But then I hit a tree trunk, and I can go no farther. I am doomed. I am going to die. I will never see Katniss' beautiful face ever again. Her sparkling eyes, bleach-white smile, or her wonderful dimples in her cheeks, which I barely see. And her-
Cato interrupts my thoughts with his bragging, "Well, well, well. Here we have it. Lover Boy." Cato laughs, "And you thought you could get away with chasing Katniss off. Right. Don't worry, I heard all I needed to."
Cato starts mimicking me in a high voice, " 'Get up! Get up! Run! Run!' Yeah… You thought I couldn't hear that?" Cato tsk-tsks and shakes his head. Before I can react, he lunges with his sword, and drives a gash into my leg, up high, right down to the bone. I howl in pain. He waits a while, so I can get my breath back. Once I'm hardly gasping anymore, he continues:
"I decided I wouldn't kill you right now. Let you suffer, right, Lover Boy? Maybe Katniss will even come by and see you like this… And maybe she'll even finish the job." Cato winks, pats my cheek sarcastically, and walks off, laughing.
I rip off my first shirt (I still have on 2 more shirts), and wrap it around my wound. I slowly stand up, putting most of my weight on the tree. Blood has already soaked through the shirt. Luckily, I see a spring through the trees, so I leave the tree and hop towards the water. It takes me a half hour to get there. Jeez, I chid myself, Am I really this weak?
I soak my bloody shirt in the spring, turning all the water red. Lost more blood than I thought I did. I wrap the newly-clean shirt around my wound, and hobble on, looking for shelter. I take a whole day limping, cursing, crawling, and letting a few tears fall before I find the perfect spot.
A spot my frosting skill can go to work.
Katniss Finds Peeta
Sheltered by boulders, thirst quenched from a clear stream, and lush green plants kissing the edges of the huge rocks. Food, maybe? I sit in a crack between 2 boulders, and start swirling mud at my feet. Hmm… I chop up some green plants and add the tiny bits into the mixture, making it greenish-brown. Perfect. I spend the rest of the day applying it to my skin and clothes.
Night comes, and I am completely covered in mud. Camouflaged, perfect. But the wet mud soaks up the coldness, and throughout the night, I'm shivering.
Am I melting? No, it's just the heat. Jeez, it's hot out. I feel like I'm one of the pans of bread in our bakery back home, slowly being baked. My mud camouflage keeps hardening and cracking, so I have to keep applying more. I feel like I have the fever, but I can't feel my skin good because of the mud covering.
Another day of torture. More dreams of Katniss. There was an announcement… hmm… When was it? I don't know. But the announcer said that 2 tributes could win the games. Is Katniss searching for me?
Hunger is getting to me. Turns out the green plants aren't good sustenance. I feel like I could just die, right now, and I wouldn't care. Katniss could win this thing… She doesn't have to sacrifice her chances of winning to find me.
I hear footsteps. I squint my eyes, partially because of the sun's glare, and partially because of not wanting to give myself away. A foot splashes in the water. It's Katniss!
"You here to finish me off, sweetheart?" I ask her, my voice raspy.
"Peeta?" she whispers, "Where are you?" God, she's so cute. "Peeta?" She walks towards me, but judging by her befuddled expression, she still doesn't know where I am.
"Well, don't step on me," I say. She jumps back, and I open my eyes. I laugh.
"Close your eyes again," she commands. I do. Anything for her. I hear Katniss gasp, so I open my eyes again.
"I guess all those hours decorating cakes paid off," Katniss jokes. I smile.
"Yes, frosting. The final defense of the dying."
"You aren't going to die," she says firmly.
"Says who?" I ask, my voice ragged.
"Says me. We're a team now, you know," she says. Katniss walks towards me, and crouches down next to me. She puts one hand on my shoulder, and her other hand holds her bottle of water, which she lets me drink thirstily.
"Did Cato cut you?"
"Left leg. Up high."
"Let's get you to the stream so we can wash you off," Katniss says. She tries to help me up, but it's no use. I cry out in pain, and a look of sorrow crosses her face, just for a second. Was that what I thought I saw?
"Lean down a minute, I got to tell you something," I say. She crouches down, and my lips are so close to her face. "Remember, we're madly in love, so it's all right to kiss me anytime you feel like it," I whisper in her ear. She smiles shyly and laughs. Oh, well.
"Look, Peeta, I'm going to roll you into the stream. It's very shallow." I nod. Katniss carefully rolls me to the stream, but I winced and grimaced all along the way.
"Let's get you cleaned up. Keep an eye on the woods for me, okay?" Katniss asks me, and I nod. She pauses for a second, contemplating something, then pours water on me to wash the mud off.
Katniss gently unzips my jacket, and places it on a rock to dry. Then she unbuttons my shirt and takes that off, too. I am slowly starting to blush, because I am thinking of things that, well, I shouldn't be thinking. Katniss takes her knife and carefully cuts my undershirt off me. She props me up against a boulder.
Katniss soaks her hands in the stream and stands up to clean the dirt from my hair. Then she moves her hands to my face, where she rubs the dirt off there, too. Her hands being all over my face, I blush even more. When she cleaned off my cheeks, she saw me blushing, which made her blush too. Wow. What are people watching this on TV thinking?
She examines the burn on my chest, then looks in her first-aid kit for something. She rubs a cream in between her hands and then rubs her hands on the burn. Katniss's dainty, petite hands are cool on my fevered skin. She realizes this and makes me take a few fever pills.
"We need to get some food in you," she says, her voice gentle, as she offers me groosling. I turn my nose at it and say, "It's funny, I haven't been hungry for a while." She frowns in concern and makes me eat a couple dried pears.
Katniss's hands go back to work, as she picks the Tracker Jacker stingers from my stings. I wince. But then she chews up these leaves and places the wads on my stings. I sigh in relief and wilt onto the boulder. Katniss giggles. I love her laugh.
Katniss goes to the stream to wash my shirts, which she puts on some boulders to dry. "Can I sleep now, Katniss?" I ask her.
"Soon," she says gently, " We need to look at your leg first."