"Two years," Taeyong says, and surprised, Jaehyun's head jerks up to look at him.
"You've trained two years for this?"
Taeyong shrugs, fingers working deftly to assemble the ties that will bind his sleeping bag to the tree branch high above any predators that might come in the night - courtesy of a generous sponsor. It's no surprise Lee Taeyong has no shortage of sponsors, Jaehyun thinks, with his pretty face and District One background. He looks to his own bare branch two trees over and tries to tamp down a spike of jealousy. His only gift had been a loaf of bread on the third day when he had been starving and delirious after taking a boot to the face. He suspects it had been more out of pity than anything.
It explains everything though. The fluid, machine-like precision of Taeyong's moves, the poised, yet alluring glance he shoots at the audience that won him a pricy first aid kit on the first day in, the uncanny deftness with which Taeyong pulled Jaehyun from the river, half-dead from exhaustion. From the first day Jaehyun saw him in the training room, he can't imagine Taeyong doing anything but winning the games, and the thought arises again now, raises a lump in his throat. This is the boy that will kill me. It abruptly hits him that he should run - leave Taeyong and hide it out until the bloodshed is almost over, look at the sun one last time before dying to some other unknown contestant. Better that than die to Taeyong with a soundless whimper, because Jaehyun knows that if he stays, knows that when it comes down to it, he won't be able to raise a knife against Taeyong.
"Tell me about District Nine." Taeyong's finished setting up camp and he sits next to Jaehyun, sharpening a stake. His fingers wield the knife gracefully, slicing through the wood in sure strokes, and watching him, Jaehyun can almost forget the danger of the games, the fact that tomorrow, maybe the day after, Taeyong will probably send the same stake through a heart effortless as always - one more added to his body count. Jaehyun just hopes it’s not him. His hands tighten around his knife. Another reason he should leave and get out when he can. When Jaehyun doesn't answer, Taeyong frowns and looks up at him. "District Nine. You still remember that right?"
Taeyong's eyes are golden in the sunset, reminding Jaehyun of long summer days in the wheat field, the whisper of wind that curls through his hair and sends the stalks of wheat swaying, his mother's call to come home against the backdrop of cicadas. And too late he finds himself pulled in again. "Of course," he laughs with an aching heart, letting go of his knife. It falls with a clink and he kicks it away. "Well, let me tell you we have the best bread -"