In the chaos after they're paraded through the Capitol, Glimmer finds him in the crowd. Plainness stands out here, and despite all the pomp, Seneca Crane is just a man. She slides through the jubilant mass until she's close enough to wrap a hand around his shoulder, to lean up and whisper, "I'm Glimmer," into the artificial smoothness of his neck.
"I'm not supposed to talk to tributes," he says, turning to face her. She watches as he considers her fingers grazing the edges of his lapel, and repeats herself, eyebrow raised and poised to strike. He sighs, and she does not miss the way his eyes dart down to her mouth.
"Seneca Crane," and he extends a practiced hand; she takes it. "Congratulations, and may the odds be—"
"They are," Glimmer says, and smiles.
It takes her about two hours to catch on, staring out her window at the building-wide screens that keep the night at bay, flash footage of the reapings, of Caesar Flickerman, of past victors and their victims. Every loop starts with her face, the bright smile she wore when she volunteered, her hair done up in curls and her eyes sparkling, and ends with her mouth curling into a slow, sharp-toothed smile, the hard edges of her jaw. She lets out what might be a cackle and falls down on the bed, nestling the phone between her shoulder and chin.
"I have to say, I always went for the pigtail-pullers," she tells him when he answers, voice bleary and thin. She hadn't thought to check the time. "Now, really, how long until someone else notices?"
"We're already putting together new ads for tomorrow. Have to keep the interest up. This was just—"
"To get my attention? Wow, is this why you get the nice apartment?"
"Why do you have this number?"
She rolls her eyes at the ceiling. "The important thing," she explains, as though to a small child, "is that now you have mine."
When she goes in for her evaluation, she doesn't stick to one weapon. She bounces around, starts with the bow and works her way around to the throwing knives, the sword, the clubs. She's proficient with all of them, but not really great at any. She doesn't worry; she can feel the eyes glued to her as she darts around the room, her braids slapping against her cheeks, and then again tracing the curvature of her spine as she pulls back to throw a spear.
Beauty is a weapon, too. Beauty can be vicious.
(Glimmer lingers behind after everyone's private sessions are over, waiting for the Gamemakers to file out. She moves in front of the doorway just as Seneca steps through. Her body brushes his from knee to shoulder, and she puts her hands on his chest to steady herself.
"Whoops," she says with a charming grin, "excuse me, gentlemen." She slips away and Seneca's hands twitch from restraint, from not reaching for hers.
It's not a surprise when he shows up at her room that night.)
"An eleven," she whistles, drags her fingernails along his scalp. "If I had known all I had to do to get a good score was try to kill you—"
"Your brand of killing isn't one we're allowed to judge," he snipes, and shifts his head in her lap. "Keep doing that." She takes the barb as is, because irony is still in vogue, but scratches a little harder than necessary. "I made her a target. Added tension."
"You want me to congratulate you for doing your job?"
"A little support wouldn't go amiss, every now and then."
"How much support do we get out there?" she asks with a glint in her eye.
He slides a hand under her knee. "That's different. I'm not a competitor."
"Of course you are," she says, kisses his brow. "The very worst kind."
"The kind who gets to change the rules." He doesn't reply to that, just closes his eyes for a few long seconds before he turns his head to kiss her stomach. She shivers.
"You've got the most beautiful hair," he says finally, reaching up to twirl a strand around his finger. "Do you dye it that color?"
"I'll tell you," she says simply, "after I win."
"I can't help you out there."
"I don't want you to," she slings back at him, and he kisses her again, this time on the ribs.
"Girl on fire," she murmurs. "You know, back in the old days, those were called witches."
"No," he says slyly, "those weren't witches." She looks down at him. "The real witches didn't get caught."
Her smile does not glimmer. It dazzles; it confounds; it blinds.
He's backstage after she finishes her interview, and she bounces over to him, fresh with the ecstasy of applause but he backs away from her hands, her expectant mouth.
"Look," he says, and gestures to the photo resting on his lap. In it, Glimmer leads him down a hallway, their fingers locked. She looks up at him blankly. "You don't want to know how much money they're asking for this."
"How much does a nubile young body run for these days?" she deadpans, but his eyes are hard and his hands are clenched on his thighs. "Okay. Fine."
"What do you expect me to do about this?" he asks quietly, and a strange, sick fury bubbles up inside of her.
"Your job," she seethes evenly, and slams the door on her way out.
The photo runs with Cato's head and body where his should be. The composition is terrible; they look as though they're trying to run in opposite directions, but they can't, tied together by hands that don't match, too-clean fingers that hold on with a desperation that Cato does not know.
Mentors and Gamemakers can't be sponsors. That's okay, Glimmer thinks, rocking on the balls of her feet as the countdown flashes before her.
She can do this on her own.