She wakes them both up with the noise that she makes when she rolls over onto her injured arm. Peeta sits up instantly, and she can't exactly see him in the dark, but it's clear how concerned he is.
"Katniss?" he asks. His voice is thick with sleep. She feels guilty for waking him up. "What's wrong?"
"It's fine," she says. "I just . . . hurt my arm again, I guess. But I'm fine now."
She feels the bed shift when he gets up. She's not half as surprised as she should be when first the bedroom light and then the kitchen light turns on. She is taken back, though, by how sweet – if not predictable – it is when Peeta comes back in with a cup of water and more of the pain medicine he's been giving her all day.
"Thank you," she says. "I feel bad. I keep waking you up."
"I don't mind," he assures her. Her nightmares really haven't been that bad recently, but he's been more than gracious about it when they've woken him up. "I just hate that this happened."
"I know you do," Katniss says with a little smile. "But it's not like it's the worst I've ever had."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" he asks.
She has half a mind to show him the spot on her lower back. The scar from where she thought she had more room to get under the fence than she did. The thick wire scratched not only through her shirt, but also through a few layers of her skin. She doesn't, though. She just shrugs and takes the pills.
"But I guess it would explain why you're so tough," he continues. She hands the water back, and he finishes it off before he brings it to the kitchen again. She waits for him to come back before she settles in, and in the darkness, she doesn't even feel strange about ending up with her head on his chest.
She can feel the warmth of his skin through his shirt. His arm wraps around her like it's the most natural thing in the world. Maybe it is. She's not complaining.
"So . . . what do you say we play hooky tomorrow?" he asks. "Because I don't know about you, but I'm not exactly counting down the minutes until we go back to the bakery."
She knows how much he loves the bakery. "Really?"
"Yeah. I'll text Dad right now. It'll probably be better, that way."
"So he's mad at you – at us?" Katniss asks. She knows it's probably not a question she should have asked. Hopefully by including herself she's made it better.
He laughs. "He's mad at me, not you. And he's gonna get over it. But, no, nobody will be heartbroken tomorrow when we don't show."
"Peeta," she says. "Please don't ruin things with your family because of me."
"You are my family," he says, and that's that.
She grumbles when she wakes up, trying to push her face a little bit further into the pillow to block out the light. She's met with resistance, though, because her pillow is actually Peeta's chest. He's on his back, so it's much too flat.. She wants to pull away, to apologize, but she's too far gone, and besides, Peeta rolls over onto his side. Oh. This is much better, with her face hidden in his chest and her head on his arm.
"Mm," she groans. It's supposed to be thanks, but she's so tired that it doesn't come out that way. Vaguely, she hears Peeta chuckle. He sounds tired, too.
When she wakes up for good, Peeta is still sleeping. She props herself up on one elbow, sure that more movement will alert him to her presence – and, okay, maybe she's enjoying the warmth that being pressed up against his chest provides.
She can't exactly make out his face, even from this vantage point, so she drops back down and closes her yes. Should she be thinking about that kiss so much? And for that matter, should just the thought of the kiss make her smile this wide? She's going to have to cut that out before Peeta gets up, or else she'll have some explaining to do.
For now, though, she just holds her hand to her cheek and feels the grin underneath for a moment.
Once they're finished getting ready for the day – together as usual, even if it is strange to have a usual with Peeta – he gets to work on what must be the biggest breakfast she's had since she's been here. She smells bacon nearly as soon as she steps out of the shower. By the time she's dressed and in the kitchen, he's working on something completely different on a contraption beside the stove.
Griddle cakes, she determines. She wants to make some sort of a joke. Wants to ask if this is him trying to thank her for the kiss or to make the burn on her wrist better. But then he turns to look at her, and he's so happy that she can't.
"It smells lovely," she says. "Is there anything I could do to help?"
He considers this for a moment. She's almost surprised. He barely lets her do any housework. She has to hurry and make the bed before he gets out of the shower in the morning, because she's certain he would try to stop her if he saw it happening with an "Oh, no, I can do that."
It's his line of choice. For when she tries to help him load the dishwasher, or when she asks if he has laundry to put in the wash. Sometimes she'll manage to set the table, but that doesn't stop him from trying his hardest to have it done before she comes out.
"If you wouldn't mind getting two glasses of orange juice for us, that would be great," he answers. She feels all too proud of herself for being able to do this. For being trusted to do this.
"Not at all," she says.
"Did you sleep well?" Peeta asks, turning back to the pancakes.
"Once I stopped moving so much, I did," she answers. He nods. "What about you?"
"Oh, yeah," he says. "It was great."
Once the cups are on the table, she finally gets her nerve. "So . . . are you spoiling me because of the burn? Because it's really not that bad."
For a long, horrible moment, it's silent.
"I'm genuinely offended that you think I'm spoiling you because you got hurt." Her stomach clenches, mind already racing with ideas of ways she could make this better. Peeta turns to look at her again, probably only so that she can see the hand he's holding to his heart. He's grinning. She shouldn't be half as relieved as she is. "Honestly, Katniss. Do you still think I need a reason to spoil you?"
She smiles, hoping he doesn't notice the sigh that escapes with it. Of course he wouldn't be upset with her. She's starting to doubt that it's possible to upset him. Except, of course, for his mother. Maybe it's just different with her. "Should've known. At least I could understand why you're doing it if that was the case."
He gets back to work. "Well," he begins, his voice quiet. "I want you to be happy here. And if – well, if that can be accomplished for at least a couple of seconds when I give you a glass of orange juice or a couple of pieces of bacon in the morning, then that's what's gonna happen."
She wants to make him feel better, somehow. Wants to say that she is happy here, and while it's not a lie – and she's definitely not unhappy here – something tells her that he won't quite believe her anyway. That this isn't the best time to bring it up.
"What are we doing today?" he asks. "It's up to you. I got the go-ahead for the day off, so, if you want to go somewhere . . ."
"No," she says. "I want to stay here, I think. See something you like to do."
"Something I like to do," he repeats. "Okay. Like what?"
She has to think about it for a moment while he goes back to cooking. He actually starts on scrambled eggs and she wonders if she'll have room to eat everything. She smiles when she comes up with her answer. "Could I . . .? Would you mind showing me your drawings?" she asks.
He's so pleased with this that she's certain it was the right idea. Of course, he pretends to be shy about the drawings, but he talks about them while they eat breakfast, his leg bouncing up and down nervously when she asks what his favorite thing to draw with is.
She learns that he prefers to paint, but that there's a certain brand of colored pencils that he's really passionate about.
"Do you ever draw?" he asks, eager, as always, to make the conversation about her again.
"Never?" he asks.
"Never," she confirms. "I don't have an artistic bone in my body. But I like to look at it."
That's sort of a lie. Art isn't particularly useful, so she had no interest in it at all in District Twelve. But in the Capitol, where she doesn't ever have to wonder whether or not they're having dinner – just what they'll be having and if she'll like it – she might like looking at art. She's always impressed with the sunset that he has hanging on his wall. And it makes him plenty happy to hear that she's interested in it.
"Well, I can show you how, sometime," he offers. "I mean, I've got plenty of supplies. You might like it."
"Let's start with yours," she says. "Do you have the one you were working on at the lake?"
He nods. "It's not finished, though. I haven't had time to finish the shading."
"Can I see it anyway?"
"You can eat first," she says when she realizes that he's being serious. He takes well to being laughed at. Or, at least, she doesn't think he's smiling down at his eggs because he's enjoying the food that much.
No matter how excited he is, Peeta also seems a little bit nervous for her to see the sort of things he draws. They end up sitting on the bedroom floor, the couple of feet between them littered with loose papers and sketchbooks.
He keeps alternating from examining her while she tries to look at some drawings to refusing to look anywhere near her while she looks at others. There are a lot of sunsets, sort of like the canvas he has in the living room. They aren't all finished. Some aren't even colored in all the way.
"I draw other things, I promise," he says with a shy little laugh.
She reaches for one of the sketchbooks, hesitating so that she can make sure it's okay. Peeta nods, and she pulls it into her lap.
These ones are, for the most part, finished. Shaded in and signed in the bottom corner with a tiny little PM. There are a few of them that she can't exactly place. The ones that she recognizes are impossible to miss. Like the Capitol skyline. Or what must be what the bakery's storefront looks like through the glass window.
"Peeta, these are incredible," she says.
"Thank you," Peeta says, smiling. "And before I forget, the one you asked about should be in . . . this one," he says, sliding the small one towards him. She only goes through a couple of pages before she finds the one she's looking for. It must be a newer sketchbook.
"It isn't finished," Peeta warns again. She supposes that it isn't, really. The hair is a little bit more detailed on one side than the other, and not all of her features look completely finished, but it's striking. And it does look like her. Head tilted down, lips pursed in concentration, but she doesn't look angry.
"No one has ever drawn me before," she says. "This is . . ."
"Never?" he asks. "I'd like to do it more, if you'd let me. Start over. Or finish this one, I guess."
It's almost entertaining, seeing him so nervous. "Okay," she says. "Right now?"
They don't have anything better to do, so they sit in the living room. Just like when he started the drawing, she works on a letter to her sister. She uses the armrest of the couch to balance her pad on, but that means she has to be much further away from Peeta than she's really used to, at this point.
At first, she doesn't want to tell Prim about the incident at the bakery. But then, when she starts to write about how things at the bakery are going, the story spills out anyway. This will probably help Prim, if all the questions about Peeta are any indication of her doubt. If this doesn't tell her about what kind of a man Peeta has shown himself to be, nothing will.
She keeps the part with the kiss to herself. Wants that to be something between the two of them, at least for now. Though, she's starting to wonder when – if ever – Peeta is going to want to talk about the kiss. Or do it again. He had said that she was good, or implied it, at least, with the comment about her not knowing the effect that she had on him. And he had said it was okay. So, so, so okay, if she remembers correctly.
But it wouldn't have been out of character for him, exactly, to be too kind to her. To try to spare her feelings.
"Hey," Peeta says, pulling her out of her reverie. "What's the matter?"
"What?" she asks. "Nothing."
"I'm not trying to pry," Peeta says. "It's just, I know how happy it usually makes you to write a letter back, and you haven't put anything down in a while. And you look upset."
"Oh," she says. "No. Not upset. Just thinking."
"You can talk to me," he reminds her gently. "I'm not going to get mad."
"It was . . . I was thinking about last night," she admits. She stops there, though, because she's not exactly eager to embarrass herself.
He hums, considering this. "What part?"
"The kissing part," she whispers back. She half expects him to laugh at her, but he doesn't.
"I see," he says. "So . . . is this something we should talk about? I feel like it is, but I also feel like we might not get very far if you don't want to. Because – and I say this with the utmost affection – you're stubborn as hell, sometimes."
The utmost affection. He says it so casually, too. Maybe that's what spurs her on. "Why haven't you said anything about it?"
"About the kiss?" he asks. She nods. "Oh. Well, I know you said you were comfortable with it last night, but since you didn't mention it, I thought, maybe you need more time."
"So, you weren't . . ." she clears her throat.
His eyes are trained on her. She looks back down at the letter, not liking having his full attention.
"You weren't disappointed," she continues, the words almost just mouthed, they're so silent.
"No! Of course not!" Peeta says. She should probably think he's a little bit too eager, but she's relieved to hear it. "No. No. I have thought about that an insane amount of times today. Wondered what I could do to make that happen again," he laughs shyly. "That sounded lame."
"No," she says. "Not lame."
She looks over at him just in time to see a grin spread across his face. Like he's thrilled she said that.
"You do want to do it again, then," she guesses. He reaches over and takes her hand, rubbing at the back of it with his thumb.
She swallows hard. "Okay. Good."
"Does that make you feel better?" he asks. "Because . . . you know, we are married, Katniss. You can kiss me any time you feel like it."
This makes her laugh. He's still holding her hand. That's what he's focused on the next time he speaks.
"Hey, just . . . while we're talking, is that weird for you?" he asks. "That we're married? Because – I don't know. I just keep thinking, like, if anything, you would be my girlfriend. And somehow," Peeta laughs, "somehow you're my wife."
Somehow. Katniss knows exactly how. She doesn't say that, though. "A little," she agrees. He glances up at her. "A lot."
He smiles. "Okay. Okay, I'm just glad to have that out there."
"That's it's weird?" she asks, not sure why she's suddenly feeling so bold. "Or that I can kiss you?"
This makes him laugh, but it's a strange, breathy one that she's fairly certain is because he's uncomfortable. "Either. Both," he answers. "Whichever."
Her heart is racing. She almost hates herself for letting him get to her like this. For making her so anxious, even if it's a good kind. Half of her wants to kiss him as soon as he says this. But she doesn't. She just holds onto his hand and moves the pad down so she can balance it in her lap and get at least a little bit closer to him. She steals glances down to the drawing every now and then. The girl that the sketch is turning into – shimmering, elegant, lovely – is starting to look a little bit less like her. Is that what he thinks she looks like? She doesn't ask, because she's pretty sure she's not supposed to see it right now.
Instead, like she does at the bakery, she focuses on him. He's taking the drawing seriously, she thinks. She's never seen him concentrate on something this much.
"Pizza for dinner?" he asks, finally looking up at her. He clearly doesn't mind that she's been staring at him.
"Is this because you're spoiling me?" she ask quietly. She doesn't mean to smile the way she does, but it just happens.
He laughs. "Depends on if you want it or not."
The air feels a little bit funny between them. She's not sure what it is. Should she have something clever to say?
"I do," she admits. They've only had it once since she's been here, and she actually did really enjoy it.
"Great. And you get to experience it cold in the morning," he says.
"Cold?" she asks.
"It's – arguably – the best way to eat pizza. You'll see."
Pizza, it turns out, is the only food Peeta is content to eat on the couch. Everything else, they eat at the table. But tonight, just like the last time he ordered in, they sit in the living room.
He actually manages to find something he thinks she'll like. It's one he hasn't shown her yet, and they have to watch the last few minutes of another show before it comes on. He sighs when the title sequence comes on.
"What?" she asks.
"It's . . . it's set in Twelve. I forgot. I'm going to see if there's –"
"Leave it on," she demands when he reaches for the remote. "I want to see."
"It's just a sitcom," he warns. "And I'm sure it's really inaccurate."
It is. So inaccurate that it makes her laugh. The hairstyles, the clothes, everything is so fake. So Capitol. So . . . "They've never actually been to Twelve, have they?" Katniss asks when she's finished laughing.
Peeta is beaming at her. Is he pleased that she thinks this is funny?
"What?" she asks.
"Nothing," he says. "You're just awesome."
She takes another bite of pizza before she responds, because she's not sure what to say. "I'm just less fragile than you think."
"Oh, definitely," Peeta says. "But you're also awesome."
Once they're finished eating and the food has been put away, she ends up with her head in his lap again. He's the one to play with her hair, tonight.
"So . . . any time I feel like it?" she asks, glancing up at him.
He nods solemnly. "Any time you feel like it," he confirms.
She's not too eager to go back to the bakery in the morning. Probably because of how nice yesterday was. Peeta doesn't seem all that excited, either. In fact, when they get finished brushing their teeth, he comes back out to the bed and flops down onto it, face first. His sleeping shirt rides up his back a little bit, exposing the skin there.
"What?" she asks, sitting down beside him.
He groans. "I'm trying to think of a way to ask you if you're sure you want to go without sounding like I doubt that you meant it when you said you did."
"That all?" she asks, a little amused.
"Because you can stay here. No one would fault you for it if–"
"I want to go," she assures him. "I like it. Working with you."
This makes him smile. "Really?"
Did he not think she would ever like it? Or, after yesterday, is he just glad to have confirmation? "Yeah," she says. "Really."
He doesn't try to talk her out of it again. But, when they're in the bakery parking lot, hands clasped together, he does ask if she's ready.
She considers this for a moment, and then stretches up on her tiptoes and kisses him once. It's a small, short kiss, but the grin that spreads across his face is neither.
"Now I am," she announces.