Lydia Martin’s small, smaller than Careers normally are—bird-thin bones, purple-blue veins standing stark against her pale skin, lips curled in a slight pout—but Derek knows not to trust her. She’s young, but every Career is a machine of war. His reaping was an unhappy accident, hers was planned, coordinated, she never once prayed for her name not to be read.
She wipes her blade across her leg. On the black of her jumpsuit the blood doesn’t show, but he can see it glisten in the moist, sticky sunlight.
“I never liked him anyway,” she says, of her partner. Derek can still feel the garrote cutting into the muscles of his neck, closing his air passageway, before she had appeared over both of them, like a tiny Valkyrie, and drawn her blade across her District partner’s throat.
She pauses, eyebrow raised. “Don’t trust me?” It’s practically a pur.
Derek inclines his head. His hands aren’t clean either. He’d survived the bloodbath, had probably become a favorite back in the Capitol by taking down three tributes at once for the brass knuckles he wore now. He wonders if he could kill her, this lethal, little thing, if it meant getting home to District 8.
Probably. The Games made monsters of them all, in the end.
“About as far as I can throw you,” he answers.
“I should be safe then.” She bends down, picks up her dead partner’s backpack and swings it over her shoulder. “You look like you could toss me some way.”
“I could.” And he leaves that to hang between them, an axe waiting to fall.