“This had better be good,” I grumbled as I climbed onto the roof of the Tribute Centre. The skyscraper was one of the tallest in the Capitol, but the height didn’t faze me. Shockingly that wasn’t something I was scared of.
Cale was perched on the sloping roof. His elbows balancing on his knees, he glanced at me as I struggled over to him. My foot slipped and my heart leapt into my mouth.
I collapsed heavily against the tiles, but an arm shot out and grabbed me before I could fall. I shot Cale a grateful look and pulled myself slowly into a sitting position by his side. Panting, I pulled the bobble from my hair and let it fall around me. It provided a curtain between the two of us, thankfully hiding my red cheeks.
“Shut up, it wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t asked me up here,” I replied bitterly. He simply laughed.
The city sprawled beneath us. Towering buildings grew from the grey concrete like leeches, tiny smears of colour striding purposefully between them. I couldn’t get over how loud everything was—in District 12, everything was always done with minimal conversation, and the silence seemed to suit everyone. But here, the incessant noise was almost overwhelming.
“It’s almost too much to take in,” he whispered.
It warmed me inside to know that I wasn’t the only one startled by the Capitol. We hadn’t seen any other tribute so far—a part of me was curious whether or not any of them were this thrown by the sprawling city.
But we weren’t up here to discuss worries. There wasn’t going to be a lot of time for that.
“What did you want to talk about, Cale?”
He dropped his head, gazing down at his interlocked fingers. With a small lip-bite, he said, “I wanted to ask you something.”
I rolled my eyes. “Well, ask away.”
He shook his head. “It’s pointless now. I wanted to ask if it would be better if we stayed away from each other completely. Ease the familiarity and all that, y’know.” With a bitter laugh, he added, “Not much chance of that now.”
I was taken aback. Before climbing up to the roof, I hadn’t allowed myself to think of a reason why Cale wanted to talk with me. But even if I had, I would never have guessed he wanted that.
Swallowing, I focused on a building off in the distance. It was oddly shaped, something my mother would’ve loved. And Katniss probably would’ve hated. She was all lines and sharp edges, that girl.
“It doesn’t matter now, I suppose,” he said. “Haymitch and Crazy have everything all sorted out.”
“Hey,” I nudged him. “Don’t call her that. She’s a little eccentric, I’ll give you that, but she only wants what’s best for us.”
“No, she wants what’s best for you.” Cale scowled as the busy city shifted underneath us, oblivious to the two teenagers perched on the top of the Tribute Centre.
“Maybe if you tried a little harder she’d like you.”
He snorted, “And how do you propose I do that?”
“Well,” I said, raising an eyebrow. “For one, you could try not throwing knives at her head.”
Thankfully, he laughed. The sound reminded me oddly of home.
It died in his throat and he sighed, “I really should apologise for that.”
“You should. She’ll forgive you if you make it extra dramatic.”
“Yeah, that does seem to be her forte,” he muttered, looking up at the sky.
It wasn’t the same type of day it had been yesterday. The blue sky had painted itself with dark clouds and murky black colours. The sun was hidden behind the mass of thundering clouds. Past the furthest skyscrapers, hills crested from the ground. A line of forked lightning burst down, striking the ground silently.
“Suppose it’s time to get back inside,” I sighed, getting to my feet. Cale remained seated for a few more moments, his eyes focused on the sharp lightning. A rumble of thunder rolled through the sky. A crease appeared between his eyebrows and I frowned.
He got to his feet and jerked his chin toward the lightning. “That’s what we need to be. We need to shock, we need to evoke emotion.” His dark eyes met mine and a spark flamed inside of them. “We have to be feared by many, yet loved by enough. We have to survive these Games, Tink.”