Katniss never knew when the broadcast failed -- none of the Tributes knew.
Primrose, Haymitch, and Seneca's viewing of the 74th Hunger Games was cut off with the death scream of the Tributes girl with the open flame.
Precautionary measures were taken to ensure no one got close to the edge, though some commentators opined that the ring of fire was too much of symbolic favoritism of for District 12's Tribute.
Haven't heard the cannon much today. There's less firing than there was yesterday, and there was less yesterday than the day before when we were all assembled at the Cornucopia at the start of the Games.
I'm making my way from one tree to another, using all the muscles and willpower I gained from my years of going after wild game, to keep silent... even with the burn on my leg. Shouldn't be surprised at the size of the blaze back there - Haymitch as good as said they like keeping Tribunes on our toes.
Metal touches my neck, and I stop where I am. Flat, not as cold as it should be. I can feel how easy it would be to rotate the blade and open my throat, or to slide up and go for my tongue. "Clove," I say. Almost everyone else prefers either larger blades, spears, or blunt objects. And with one exception, everyone else would have been too easy to hear their approach.
She moves out of the shadows, staying at the same distance from me, not lessening or deepening how her knife lays on the bulge of my throat. Clove doesn't say anything. I can see lots of little nicks and cuts on her face and arm - my eyes flicked to look there for only a moment, never more than that - and her clothing looks like its seen as much of the wrong side of a hill and shrubs as mine has.
Clove hasn't killed me yet. It's like she's waiting for something, and something tells me she isn't waiting for reinforcements.
I need to live, to make it out of here. I promised Prim I would try. And if nobody's coming to help Clove, maybe I could...
No, that wouldn't work. Would it? Maybe, maybe it's the edge I need.
Speaking of edges... "Truce?" I ask Clove.
She looks at me, and something in her eyes shows surprise, alongside disbelief.
"Me and you against the others," I say. She hasn't moved the knife, which I'll count as a victory.
"The Girl on Fire needs help?" Clove asks, mocking.
"I'm the only one who doesn't call me that. And I never claimed to be a one-person army."
Something about that amuses her. I'll ask later...maybe.
Clove just stands there, and I have no idea if she's thinking it over, mulling over the best way to kill me, or if she's fallen asleep with her eyes open. I've done that; Gale has too.
Maybe it was desperation, maybe something else, I'm not really sure why I blurted out, "This is a TV show!" I say to Clove, nearly shouting it. After all, she knows it as well as I do. Maybe its my inner Haymitch coming out to play. I'll give it a beer later.
Me. Work with you? Against everyone else. At least until we're the only ones left - that's what Cato screwed up, he got impatient.
I nod. As my nan reminded me often, 'It isn't just how well you do, but how you go about it, that wins you the advantages where the sponsors are concerned.' And the sponsors are the ones who send in the really useful stuff.
A Career and a Twelver. The sponsors will just eat us up. "Fine. We work together. But Cato's mine," I tell her, leaving no doubt or question on the matter.
Cato. Bastard turned on me. Turned our team against me. All to save his and Melark's hides; idiot convinced the team Melark - not me - was key to victory. I'll let Katniss have first go at Melark - Lover Boy was too wide-eyed for me to affix blame to.
I'll vivisect Cato. Then we can decide what to do with Lover Boy.
Katniss nods; fine by her. Now that we understand each other.
She shifts her weight. Leg's bothering you, I see. "Do you have any medicine I can use?" Katniss asks.
"No. But Glimmer does - saw her lift it off Campfire Girl." I smile. "Ever go hunting?"
'You can win. You're good at hunting.' Prim's words echo between my ears for a long while after Clove asked me if I've ever been hunting.
We ran into two lone Tributes on our way to get the medicine. The first one, Clove did him in almost before I realized he was there. The second one mistook me for Clove... until he noticed my braid.
And that gave me an idea, one I shared with Clove after the cannon. "You think they'll mistake us for each other?" Clove asks me.
I nod. "If they've been looking after their campfire, they won't have any night vision."
"And if not, there's a limit to how well anyone can see at night anyway. I'm familiar with the concept." Clove says. That's true. "Besides, there's this," and Clove's got her fingers on the end of my braid. I expect her to tug. I close my eyes to brace for the yank.
Which never comes. I open my eyes. "Point?" Clove asks.
I don't look away. Draw my knife. This' for you, Prim, I think as I saw through my braid. I'm going to win this, and I'm going to go home.
Clove looks impressed. I think.
"And height's not a problem," I say. Off her snort, I add, "Posture's key." Looks like mom's lessons'll actually pay off.
I know Clove knows what I mean, because she manages to look me in the eyes for a little bit. Eye level. My eye level.
We rehearse as we hike stealthily through the woods, doing our damnedest to walk and carry ourselves like the other one. At first, I try walking while angry at everyone, at the whole Panem world - and I nearly walk into a tree. Then I think back to when dad died and I was walled-up and doing everything myself and not wanting anything that even smelled like charity - and that earns me a surprised word from Clove. That's it, I feel.
Doesn't take Clove any longer to step into my skin and move like me, than I took me to get into her skin.
Takes a bit longer to get a proper feel for the weights and balances of her blades and my bow.
No idea how long it would take for us to sound the same. Or for each of us to sound like the other. That would be an extra level of completeness, because otherwise we'd have to avoid talking if we want to fool anyone long enough for the takedown.
The cannon fires twice as we're syncing our accents - we can mock the Capitol accent flawlessly - and we look overhead. In the sky, "Cato and that kid from 11," Clove says, IDing them.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“Why? I watched him in group training and in the opening fracas for the Cornucopia’s supplies -- if it was at his hand, Cato won’t have passed painlessly.”
Rue’s still out there in the Games. I don’t know which is worse - that I’m worried about having to fight Rue to the death, or that I’m worried someone will kill her before me.
And that's when we hear laughter. Glimmer's. Peeta's.