She’d planned his death carefully, as he must have planned hers. A knife in the throat, flung from a distance – the small one she kept concealed in her boot, the one he didn’t know about. She had to throw it; she’d never beat him if they went hand-to-hand, and she had to be careful of his sword.
Clove had his death all planned. And then they went and changed the rules.
For a few moments, she and Cato simply stood in stunned silence. The thick, hot air seemed to thrum around them. Clove was intensely aware of her own stuttering heartbeat, of her breath as it fanned her lips.
At length Cato said, in a tone of disbelief, “Two victors. They’ve never done that before. Never.”
Like she needed to be told. She’d been studying the Games all her life, same as him. Just because he was a year older, it didn’t mean he knew more than she did.
“Only if they’re from the same district,” Clove reminded him. She fiddled with her knife hilt.
“We could both go home.”
Some small catch in his voice made her look up at him. Their eyes met for a second or two; then they glanced away again.
“Share the victory?” Clove said dubiously, studying her thumbnail as it scraped over the hilt of her knife.
“Why not?” He didn’t sound magnanimous. He didn’t sound like anything, really; his tone was completely without inflection. And yet, he had to be feeling something. In that brief moment when their eyes met … she’d seen something in his face, which she’d never noticed before. A rawness … a youthfulness…
Cato was just a boy, Clove thought, for the first time in all the years they’d known each other. Just a boy.
It would certainly make things easier, she reflected, not having to worry about his sword’s proximity to her vitals. Together, they could easily take out the remaining four. Who was left, anyway? The boy from Eleven, the girl from Five, the two from Twelve…
Clove’s stomach twisted. This rule change had nothing to do with her and Cato. It was all for the two from Twelve, so the audience could swoon over the idea that the two of them might make it out alive and live happily ever after. How stupid. How insipid.
How completely like these soft, sugarcoated clowns in the Capitol.
She wanted to spit on the ground, but she held herself stiffly, remembering her audience. “Fine,” she told Cato in a tone of airy nonchalance. “I don’t mind sharing if you don’t.”
She’d kill the remaining four – and Cato. There was no point in changing her plan, especially if he thought he could trust her. She’d kill him just as she’d meant to. Just to show them what she thought of their games.