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By the way, this is in Cato's POV.
Part One- Before the Games
I look over at Clove Ascolese. She is so beautiful, medium dark brown hair with a few highlights in it, dark brown eyes with flecks of gold in them, and she's at least ten inches shorter than me. She is excellent with throwing knives, she never misses the target. I smile and walk over beside her. She never really notices me, I guess she never really should've. Most people see her as deadly, lethal, manipulative, but they don't know her.
"Hi." I say, and she turns and smiles at me. She takes another knife and throws it at the target again. It hits the dummy right in the nose.
"Hello. So what's your favorite weapon?" She asks me and I smile
"The sword, what's yours?" I ask, but it's a stupid question because I should already know.
"Wild card, take a guess." She says and laughs. Now I know she has a good sense of humor, and I'm getting to talk to her. I guess this is a step up.
"Knives?" I ask and she laughs again.
"That'd be true." She says and now I laugh.
"Well, well, well. I see I learned one more thing about you other than you're pretty." I say without thinking, and then clamp my hand over my mouth. How did I just stay that? Stupid! Now she'll think I'm a player, and she'll never talk to me again. Well who am I kidding? Not like she'd ever like me anyways. Or would she? Then I realize something. She's dropped the knife in her hand and it's landed on her foot. Blood's drizzling out of her foot. I bend down and cover her cut with my hand. She sits down on a bench next to the station.
"Well, well, well, I learned something about you, too. You're great at lying." She says and looks me in the eyes. I get up and sit on the bench with her. The wound stopped bleeding now, but Clove is crying. I use my index finger to wipe a tear off her freckled, tan cheek. Then I realize the burning in my cheeks, I must be blushing.
"I'm not lying. You are pretty. And you have a good sense of humor, too." I tell her and she leans her head to put pressure on my hand. I smile and brush some of the extra hair off her forehead. I look back down at her foot and see it's swelling some. That's not good.
"My foot hurts." She says innocently and I frown and nod.
"Let's get you to the nurse or something." I say and she nods. I pick her up and she leans her head on my shoulder. I caress her hair briefly then put my hand back down under her knee. I look down at her and she's sleeping. I smile and wake her up. She looks me in the eyes, and flutters her eyelashes. I touch her cheek briefly, and see the nurse's office.
"I feel okay now. You can put me down." She says and I lay her down on a bench near the office. I stroke her ponytail to calm her and she takes my hand. I must blush again because she laughs. She sits up and I join her on the bench. "You know your looks aren't bad either." She says and I look down at her. I kiss her forehead, and she smiles.
"Thanks." I can barely get the word out. She puts her hand on my cheek and scoots over closer to me. I give her a confused look and she laughs. I can't hear her next words because I'm so caught up in the moment. "What?" I ask her and she smiles again.
"I said, kiss me." She tells me again and I smile. I lean in closer to her and press my lips against hers. I'm sixteen years old. My name is Cato Lansden. I'm in love with a girl I just met, and she's my first kiss. Wait, I love her. I love her. The words lag in my mind. I love her? Is it a question I'll have to answer? Or is it true? We break apart after what seems like hours. I look her in the eyes and she smiles. My first kiss, no, our first kiss.
I look down at our entwined fingers and smile, I reach out to touch her cheek, and then remember her foot. I look down at it, and see it's bleeding. I get off the bench and cover the wound up again with my hand and she laughs. "Are you okay? Do you want me to take you to the nurse?" I ask her and she shakes her head. I scoop her up again and she rests her head on my shoulder.
"Sorry about that, if I was being too forward." She apologizes and I laugh. I caress her cheek and she smiles again, then she winces. I move my hand but she catches it. I lean down and kiss her forehead again, she has a fever. Oh no, her foot swelling, it's still bleeding now. Blood poisoning, she needs to get to the nurse, I think she has some anti infection drugs. I start to walk in that direction and she gives me a confused look.
"Blood poisoning, Clove. The nurse has some medicine for it." I explain and she takes a deep breath and looks down at her foot. She reaches up to touch my cheek and tilts her head to the side. She settles herself in more nicely and wraps her arms around my neck.
"What's your name?" She asks me.
"Cato." I tell her.
"Thank-you, Cato." She says and I look down at her. She gulps and I pull her in closer to my chest. I see the nurse's office and walk in.
"What's wrong?" The nurse asks me without even looking at me.
"She has blood poisoning. She dropped a knife on her foot and now it won't stop bleeding." I say as I lay her down on the bed. The nurse turns to look at me and frowns.
"Really?" She asks and I nod. She pulls a shot out of her cabinet and walks over to Clove. She looks at the needle and then back at me.
"Will it hurt?" Clove asks her, and she nods. I give her my hand and she squeezes it.
"It'll only hurt a little, Clove. She won't hurt you that bad." I tell her and she nods, but the worry in her eyes hasn't gone down any. I touch her cheek and she smiles briefly, but then screeches when the needle goes in her arm. I frown and take her hands again. "Clove it's okay, you're okay now." I tell her and she nods. She reaches her arms out to me and I pick her up. The nurse is already attending to another girl. I carry her outside and she starts crying and touches her arm where the needle went in.
"My arm hurts. The shot didn't help, it made it hurt worse." She tells me and I frown.
"Clove, it'll help it in a few minutes, don't worry. You'll be okay. I promise." I calm her and she smiles. I can hear the words lagging in my mind, and I don't know exactly why they are there right now. Does she love me, too? I could tell her the way I feel about her, but I don't know how she'd answer. There's only one way to find out. I have to tell her. I have to. I need to. I love her, but how do I tell her that? I've never felt this way about someone, I love her.
"You saved me. Thank-you." She tells me and reaches out to touch my cheek. I know it's time, to tell her what I feel. I love her. I let myself believe it. I let the thought work its way through my mind. I love her, and I know it. I do, I love her.
"I love you." I tell her, and she looks up at me. I sit her down on a bench and take her hands. "I love you, I love you, I love you." I say and she lets a smile creep onto her lips, and a tear comes out of her eyes. I wipe it away with my finger and put my hand on her cheek. She leans in and kisses me without hesitation. We stay locked together for what seems to be hours. When we break apart I look her in the eyes and start crying.
"No, Cato, don't cry. I love you, too. Thank-you. For everything. For my first kiss. Thank-you." She tells me and I pull her head down on my shoulder while we both cry. She loves me back. I was her first kiss. I scoop her up and she lays her head down on my shoulder. I stroke her hair and she smiles.
"You know, you're one of the most amazing people I've ever met, Clove. You were my first kiss, too. I've been waiting for you. I mean I've had a crush on you forever. I never got the nerve to talk to you, though, because I mean you're too good for me, and-" I start but she interrupts me.
"Just stop right there, Cato. I'm not too good for you. I love you." She says and I smile. I press my forehead against hers and laugh. We stay in this position for what seems like an hour. I caress her hair and she looks down at her feet. Then I remember something. The reaping is in an hour.
"Clove, the reaping. It'll be in just an hour. We need to go get ready, okay. I'll meet you there." I tell her and she nods. I put her down and she gives me one last kiss. I smile and head back to my house. I change into an off white shirt and black slacks, and my dress shoes. I walk back to the Justice Building and see Clove waiting for me on a bench. I walk over and pick her up and spin her around. She's laughing the whole time. When I put her down I get a good look at what she's wearing. Her hair is down and pulled back out of her face with a clip. Her skirt matches the gold flecks in her eyes. The navy blue shirt she's wearing matches the flat shoes she's wearing. I smile and take her hand.
"Come on, we better get there now." She tells me and I laugh. We have to run in order to make it in time. They prick our fingers and we run to take our places. She goes to the fifteen year-old girl section and I go to the sixteen year-old section. I look over at her and press my lips together. A woman whose name I don't know walks on the stage. She introduces the movie, and I think I fall asleep. I wake up when she says, 'ladies first' as loudly as she possibly can. She walks over to the girls' reaping ball and takes out a name. I close my eyes and think to myself, please let Clove be safe. She walks back over to the microphone and unfolds the paper.
I almost faint. I look over at her and she's not smiling, not crying, just still. A girl behind her pushes her and she snaps back into reality. She walks up to the stage and I'm staring at her the whole time. I have to get reaped, I have to protect her. I love her. I have to get reaped. I have to. The lady on stage claps her hands and asks for any volunteers. No one steps up which is very unusual. She bobbles back over to the boys' reaping ball and pulls a name out. She somewhat walks back over to the microphone and unfolds the paper. Clove is staring at me, and I have my fingers crossed.
"Cato Lansden." She says and I almost run up to the stage. The woman asks for volunteers, and no one says anything, just still. We shake hands and are taken into the Justice Building. No one comes to see me. No one. I feel so mean, so hurt. Why does everyone hate me? Clove doesn't. Clove. Where is she right now? Does she have any visitors, her parents I'm sure. My parents haven't even come to see me. They hate me, and so does everyone else. When I'm taken out of the room and on to the train, Clove and I sit next to eachother and don't say anything. I'm holding her hand and I feel like I'm about to cry. She has to win. I have to protect her. I need to. It's what she needs, and it's what I want.
"Cato, we're going to be forced to kill each other." Clove tells me, and I know what she's doing. We can't love each other anymore. At least not in the arena, but I love her, and I promised to myself I won;t let her die. "Cato, you know I love you, but in the arena we can only be allies for so long. You have to know that we can't love each other in the arena. It's best we stop now." She says and a tear comes out of my eye.
"No, Clove. You can say whatever you want, but it won't change anything. I'll still love you. No matter what. I'll always love you." I tell her and she's about to cry. I stand up and kneel down next to her chair. I stroke her dark hair to try to keep her calm, but it's no use.
"Cato, I love you, too. We can't do this anymore, though. It all stopped when we got reaped. You need to understand that. I promise, I won't pretend to hate you, I just can't love you." She tells me again and I shake my head. She needs to love or else I'll be crushed, heartbroken.
"Fine. Break me into a thousand pieces." I tell her and she looks me in the eyes. I reach out to caress her cheek, and lean in. The kiss makes me feel a warmth in my chest that I've never felt before. Is it because I love her even more now? Or is it because she's hurt me in a way that no one else can comprehend? When we break apart, she has hold of my arms.
"I won't. Okay. I won't." She says and I smile. I walk over to the couch and she joins me. We lay down with her on top of me, and I'm stroking her hair while she's sleeping. I kiss her forehead, and she wakes up. She scoots up so her head is closer to mine. I press my forehead against hers and cup my hand around her cheek. I smile and rub her arm where she got the shot. I take her hand with my other hand and she pulls it up closer to her heart. "I'll love you, always." She tells me.
"I love you, too. Forever. No one can change my mind, not even if you say you hate me." I tell her and she smiles. I hope it won't come down to the two of us in the last two, and if it does, I'll give her my life to save her. I need to tell her that.
"What happens if it's you and I in the last two?" She asks me. Does she know what I'm thinking? How would she?
"I'll give you my life." I tell her and she shakes her head and puts a hand on my cheek.
"No, you won't. I won't let you." She tells me. I shake my head, I couldn't live without her, besides my family hates me. The school hates me. Everyone but Clove hates me. She's the only person that loves me, she's the only person who's ever even told me that. She's the only person I really love anyways.
"No one loves me, but you. You really love me, right?" I ask her and she laughs.
"Of course." She tells me and I smile. A tear comes down her cheek and I wipe it away before she can shed another. She leans in and kisses me briefly and when we break apart I smile.
When we get off the train, we're swarmed by the Capitol people. I can't even make my way to Clove. They take me to a place our escort calls the Remake Center. They basically don't do much other than hose me down. Then they send me to my stylist. Her name is Amaliey, and I've seen her a few times before when they interview the stylists for the tributes. She shows a piece of paper with a clothing design on it. It looks like something that a gladiator might wear. A metal helmet and armor with feather hanging off the sides. Clove's is in more of a dress form and mine's like a shirt and pants kind of. I smile, we will look almost controlling.
"Do you like it?" She asks me and I nod. She takes me and fits me into an outfit exactly like it. When she tells me to look in the mirror, I look stunning, I mean litterally, the light reflecting off the metal is almost stunning. I can't wait to see Clove, she must look gorgous. I smile and she takes me to a compartment in which we get onto the chariot. I see Clove, and know I was right, she looks beatiful. I give her a hug and she squeezes me before I let go. I want to hold her hand but I don't think it would be appropriate, after all, we are being forced into an arena where we will have to kill each other. We wave to the crowd and they love us, that is until the District Twelve chariot comes out. They have on flaming capes, and if I do say so myself, they are stunning.
After the chariot rides we are taken to our floor. Ours is on the second floor distinctly because we're District Two. I know that it's nice and everything, but in a week, we'll be in an arena, killing innocent people. I can't help but feel a little bad about it. As good as I am with weapons, I hate the idea of killing someone innocent. It doesn't seem too fair. We Career Districts have been training our whole lives, while as the others will barely be able to pick up a weapon.
"Clove, can I ask you something?" I ask her and she nods. I take her hand and lead her back to my room. I tell her to sit down on the bed.
"What?" She asks me and I sit down next to her on the bed.
"Do you know?" I ask her and she gives me a confused look.
"What are you not telling me, Cato?" She asks me and I scoot over closer to her.
"Do you know that I'd risk my life to save yours?" I ask her and she leans her head on my shoulder.
"I know you would, I just don't like the idea." She tells me and I know she doesn't.