"For awhile Peeta only visited me after Haymitch had gone inside for the night. Around the same time every night I would hear Peeta's firm knock on the door. I stood at her door and just stared at the knob, unsure if this was a good idea. Everyday I wondered the same thing, could he turn on me? Was this real?
"How was your day Katniss?" He asked as he cut slices of bread. I watched silently as his hands moved swiftly.
"It was good, we tore down the electric fence today. Glad to see the basted thing go." I said taking a seat. It had been a long and hard day, but it ended on a high note. Everyone in twelve seemed to be in good spirits after seeing the fence drop. Parties were setting up to go explore the forest that surrounds the area, and then construction teams were going to head in to scout out a new area to rebuild the city.
"I would like to go with you one day." Peeta said sitting down at the table. He sipped at his water and eyes me carefully. I just stared back.
"You know what Haymitch said." Was all I could come up with.
"He doesn't need to know that we go together, if we go together." The 'if' stung, I couldn't expect him to want to go with me, but still.
"Of course." I said turning away. I walked over to the cupboard and pulled a wine glass from the shelf. Then I cracked open a bottle of wine. Peeta eyes me suspiciously as I poured a glass.
"What?" I asked. "Is it a sin?" I set the bottle down.
"No... Never mind?" He said looking away. I shrugged and began cutting a piece of steak from my plate. I hadn't had steak before going to the Capital, now it was one of the few things I treated myself to occasionally.
"It's just, I'm worried. Haymitch is a handful on his own and I can't see that you drinking would bring any good." I rolled my eyes and set the glass down.
"It is one glass of wine over a dinner for two friends. I am not going to become an alcoholic." As if to prove my point I stood up and threw the glass into the sink. As it shattered, Peeta flinched. Immediately I felt sorry, but I couldn't believe that he didn't think I was capable of controlling myself.... Actually I could, but that wasn't the point.
"I'm sorry." He stood to leave, placing his napkin over his plate.
"No, I am." I said with a sigh. "I overreacted... But Peeta, trust me."
"It's hard to." He said honestly. He sat back down into his chair and set his napkin in his lap once more. "The Capital told me that you left me in the arena to die, that you were the one killing people. You were the cause of it all."
"Okay, that's NOT real." I said putting my arms in the air. "I want to help you Peeta, you just have to talk. That's what our game is for. I can't help if you don't try."
"I know." He looked down at his plate and picked at his food.
"Let's practice." I said shoving my plate forward and resting my elbows on the table.
"Okay..." He said slowly. "Is it true that you and Gale were engaged."
"What?" I asked, wide eyed. "No, not real." I almost had to laugh as he spoke.
"Okay... good." He muttered the last word in a hushed tone so soft that I barely heard it. But I had, and it made me happy.
"Come on," I said urging him to continue with the questions.
"Real or not real, you pretended to have feelings for me in the Games?" I swallowed hard, and thought for a moment.
"At first, I thought I was pretending. I saved us both because I couldn't live knowing that I didn't try and save you, or killed out. But after everything you told me in the cave and before... And then during the Quarter Quell, it was different. I didn't want you to die, I needed you alive, everyone did. If you had died I don't know what would have happened... I probably would have gotten myself killed.
"So... its real and not real." Peeta said softly. He pulled at a loose thread on his sweater and looked away.
"It's not always love at first sight.." I whispered, as she spoke Peeta shifted uncomfortably and looked at the clock... more than once. "How about you ask another question?" I urged hoping to get away from the uncomfortable situation they put themselves in. It was becoming a pattern, things started out fine, questions had easy answers. Eventually, we reached a certain topic and found ourselves awkwardly staring down at the plates in front of us or finding an excuse to be leave. Every step forward felt like two steps back.
"What happened after the dome broke during the Quarter Quell?" Peeta asked. The only thing he had been aware of at the time was that I struck the dome with an arrow and was taken away by the rebels, leaving him to die.
"I'm not really sure how it all worked myself. When I woke up, Haymitch was with me but you weren't. I was furious... Peeta I had no idea what they had planned, they left me in the dark. Haymitch broke his word, and I still hate him for it."
"Broke his word?" Peeta asked tearing apart a piece of bread. I finished sipping at my water and nodded my head knowingly.
"I made him swear to keep you safe no matter what, and keep you alive... To make sure that YOU got out no matter what. The districts needed someone more like you."
"Do you really have to ask that?" I replied raising an eyebrow, he simply shrugged. "Peeta, you are a much better person than I ever could be. Haymitch even agrees, I don't deserve your kindness... I never did."
"You sell yourself short." He said gently. "But in the end, everything is right." He stood and grabbed his coat. "I better be off. I will see you tomorrow around the district."
I smiled softly and followed him to the door. It would be nice to see him in public, rather than in secret. However, I was still worried about Haymitch catching wind of our evening chats. Peeta smiled then and reassured.
"It doesn't matter what Haymitch says anymore, he isn't our mentor. Besides, whats the harm in two friends having dinner and catching up." He shrugged and reached for the knob.
His emphasis on the word friends made my heart sink ever so slightly. No matter how hard I tried to hide my feelings and ignore them, they crept up and slapped me in the face daily. I wondered if this was how he had felt during the 74th games... The thought didn't make me feel any better.
Peeta turned to leave then, but before he could turn the knob and open the door, it turned in his hand.
"Shit." I muttered to myself. It wasn't very late, only about eight, but why was he even awake? Usually about this time Haymitch had found his way to the sofa and was in a drunken stupor.
"Katniss sweetheart... I need to..." He stopped dead in the doorway at the sight of Peeta in front of him. "Talk to you..." He finished glaring at me between his mop of hair.
"I'll be going." Peeta said trying to step around Haymitch. However, he was not going to let that happen, he had placed his hand on Peeta's should and was guiding him into the living room "This involves you too."
"Okay..." Peeta looked at me. I shrugged. My heart felt as if it had been ripped out and stomped on several times. I was terrified, I didn't want to sit through another one of Haymitch's lectures about how I never listen.
"I'll talk to you later about this incident. Right now we need to talk about Gale." He ran his hands through his hair and leaned back into the chair. Peeta was frowning at the mention of Gale, and I was just confused. Then it hit me.
"Did the council decide?" I asked. A temporary council had been put in place after the Capitol fell. They were attempting to keep Panem in order until a new president could be appointed, and an official council could be decided upon. The official council had come into place a month ago, consisting of two previous victors, a member from each district and two former Capitol residents. Haymitch told me that Effie had been among those chosen, as well as Beetee.
"They did, Gale was appointed this afternoon. He's a bit young, in my personal opinion, but no one seems to care what I think." By the tone of his voice I knew that the last part was directed at me, I rolled my eyes.
"Who would? You're a drunk." I responded honestly.
"Recovering." Haymitch corrected. That got a laugh out of Peeta, who covered it up when Haymitch looked in his direction.
"Well congrats to him." I said throwing my hands up, "Why do we care?"
"We care because he announced that he will be meeting with the council... about arranging one last 'game'."
"Son of a bitch." I said throwing my hands up. Initially I had agreed to hold one last game, a Capitol game, but now was a different story. It had been agreed upon that there would not be a final game as an act against the Capitol. I looked to Peeta, who was furious.
"What is he hoping to accomplish? He's going to be another Snow!" Peeta said loudly.
"That is what the council is afraid of. Effie and Beetee have asked for our presence in Thirteen. None of them seem to be able to get to Gale, he has his mind made up. They want us to leave in the morning."
"Not possible." I said quickly. Both boys gave me a strange look. I shrugged my shoulders and stood up.
"I am leading a group out to explore the forest tomorrow and teach them hunting basics." It was the only thing I had been able to contribute while in isolation at twelve, I couldn't let my people down.
"Katniss, this is bigger than helping twelve."
"I realize that," I said spinning towards Peeta. "But I made a promise, we can leave after that. Effie, and the rest of the council is just going to have to keep Gale busy."
"Fine. Now attending to other matters." Haymitch said crossing his arms. "What the hell do you think you are doing Katniss, I told you specifically..."
"Yes you told ME. But I don't ask him to come, he comes on his own." I shouted. "Now, please leave. I wish to retire for the night." Sarcasm was flowing out of my mouth non stop. Peeta was shifting uncomfortably, but remained silent.
"I don't care what he does, you didn't listen to what I said." Haymitch shouted.
"You aren't my father." Katniss said growling.
"No, because he died didn't he?"
The room froze then into an uncomfortable silence. Peeta looked between the two of them worry written across his entire face. I was focusing on my breathing, and aside from my heart pounding in my ears, I could only hear the sound of my breathing.
"Get out." I said at last as I regained my composure. "Both of you, leave... now."
"Katniss..." Peeta said hesitantly.
He flinched and walked to the door, Haymitch followed silently. Once they had gone, I fell into the chair and sunk low. What the hell was I going to do?
Okay guys, I realize I haven't been writing very often at all. I have just been so busy with school and work. So if it isn't as good as it could be.. I apologize. The story is building soo I hope you guys enjoy this.