A/n: This idea came to me and I haven't been able to stop writing it. The more I write about it, the more invested I become, so I've decided to post it on here, even though I wasn't going to originally. Some of you may be angry/frustrated that I've posted a new story without finishing my other WiP's, but looking back on those, I've lost where I really wanted to go with them. Until I figure it out, I won't be updating them for a while.
Please give this story a chance. It may seem odd, reading it without knowing much of the background story, but that will all unfold with each chapter, so don't worry!
I feel super passionate about this plot and I really hope you all give it a chance and find it interesting and intriguing. I feel as if this will be my favourite story to write, being able to write Katniss' adventure to learn a few things. This first chapter isn't too short, but I feel my chapters will become more longer after this so, if you'd like that, then stick around. :)
Leave a review (and follow/favourite) if you seem to be interested in this! Or PM me. You can also find me on tumblr at .com.
I do not own The Hunger Games.
This was their thing.
It's what they did. She would run when things got too overwhelming, and then he'd beg for her to come back to him. And she always did, because that's the only place she ever wanted to be.
But, right then, her phone was void of any messages or calls from him. She even clicked on their old message conversation just to make sure she hadn't accidentally missed a text from him. She stared at his name in her phone, it was something silly. He had put it in himself. Sir Mellark. And the last message was from two weeks ago when she cut him off once again: Katniss, I can't do this again.
And she didn't answer him. No, because he was supposed to text her again the next day and tell her to come see him, to call him. But no texts ever came after that one. Katniss was frustrated, and maybe a little hurt too, with him. That was not what they did...they always came back together.
"You know what, Brainless?"
Johanna's sharp voice made her phone clatter onto her desk from her hands, and Katniss felt uneasy. Johanna was always up for a lecture and Katniss always seemed to be on the receiving end of it as of late.
"I'd ask what, but you're going to tell me even if I don't."
Johanna came over to her desk and leaned her hip against it, settling her intense gaze on Katniss. "Now, I'm gonna tell it to you straight since Madge and Annie don't have the balls. I think Finnick might, but I'm not waiting around for him to do this."
"Do what?" Katniss asked, crossing her arms.
"You fucked up, Kat. There's no other way to say it. You royally fucked up with Peeta," Johanna said bluntly, flicking her hair over her shoulder. "You know I told you...I told you not to date in our circle of friends. But you did, and you know what? That was okay once I saw you and Peeta together...But then the on and off agains started happening-"
Katniss breathed out and turned away from her friend to look out the window. She felt her friend's heated stare and it made her irritated.
"I know, okay? But...but we've always-"
"What, you thought you could keep breaking his heart whenever you got scared? Fuck, Katniss, that's not how it works."
Katniss huffed and spun back around to face Johanna. Why should she sit there and listen to Johanna Mason of all people? She'd much rather wallow in her own self-pity and anger than listen to her spew what Johanna thinks is advice.
"Oh, right, like you have the best track record with guys?"
Johanna met Katniss with a levelled glare, but she wasn't intimidated by Johanna. "At least I know how to own up to my faults. It's something you should learn."
Katniss watched as she marched out of her office, but she wasn't too worried. She and Johanna did that all the time; they snapped at each other, but by the next hour they were back to themselves.
Just like her and Peeta would be soon.
"You coming out for Friday night drinks?" Johanna asked as they closed up their office, a small building apart of a strip with the sign Mason's Design.
See, Katniss thought. We're back to normal.
Katniss stalled with her hand holding her keys in mid-air. Their group of friends always got together on Friday nights for dinner or drinks, and Peeta was apart of that group. Her stomach had nervous flutters at the thought of seeing him, but maybe when he saw her tonight, they'd fall back into each other's arms.
Because that's what we do, Katniss reminded herself. God, she needed to stop with her inner talking.
"I'll be there," Katniss said, and then continued to unlock her car door. Johanna eyed her curiously, but shrugged and waved goodbye.
Katniss drove home with anticipation bubbling in her. She tried to think of things that she could say to Peeta. Maybe something sweet and funny, like "hey, I'm sorry I left again...I'm glad you're here, I missed you more than my old jeans." Or she could always go for the bold, sexy line, like "Let's get out of here."
But nothing seemed to stick. She never knew how to get her words out properly around Peeta. Well, it only became hard once she tried to express her feelings. When they first met, it was somewhat easier, but Katniss remembered when she was momentarily rendered speechless by him.
Katniss was always jealous of Finnick's place. He was barely twenty-five, but he inherited money from his deceased parents. He wasn't stupid with his money, but that didn't stop him from buying a home with a pool the size of Canada.
Music played through the speakers on the deck, the kind of music Katniss liked. Soft with a touch of pop and indie. The sun beat down, making the day hotter than usual in October, but Katniss didn't mind. She liked the heat.
"This is definitely the hottest fall season ever," Madge said next to Katniss as she tied her blonde hair up, revealing the red sunburn on her shoulders. Her friend frowned at the burn and huffed. "Ugh, I even burn in October!"
Katniss smirked. "Hard life, huh?"
Madge didn't answer her, instead the blonde's head craned to look at something past Katniss. Her eyes widened and she tapped Katniss' arm hurriedly. "Oh my- who is that?"
Katniss, not thinking much of it, turned in her chair and found her eyes locking on a stocky guy, with blond hair that shone so bright under the sun and arms that were sculpted perfectly. He smiled and shook hands with Thresh. Katniss couldn't tear her eyes away. That guy, Blondie, was attractive in a way she'd never seen before. Not gorgeous like Finnick, or ruggedly handsome like Gale, but...Blondie was hot. Hot and cute and handsome - all of it.
And as he looked up from something that Thresh and Finnick said with a laugh, his eyes caught hers. Madge nudged her arm again and chuckled.
"He's so checking you out."
Blondie, as Katniss dubbed him, lifted the corner of his mouth into a boyish grin. It felt like years before their trance was broken by Finnick waving her and Madge over. Katniss took a gulp on her Corona before getting up from her chair and following a step behind Madge.
"There are my two girls! Wait- where's my third girl? Annie? And Johanna!" Finnick looked around the yard, but only shrugged after a few seconds. "Whatever, their loss."
"Shut up, Finnick, you sound like a pimp," Madge said and shoved him lightly. "They said they went to the store to get ice and more drinks, or something."
"Oh." Is all Finnick said before shrugging again and smiling brightly. His hand clamped on Blondie's shoulder, but Katniss kept her eyes trained on Finnick. "This guy right here, is Peeta Mellark. My old buddy from Berkley - just moved to San Diego this week. And he'll be rooming with me until he finds a place, so make him feel welcome."
Madge stuck out her hand and Katniss shifted her gaze to their hands. Blondie, or Peeta Mellark, had hands that looked strong and smooth, and Katniss bit her lip.
"Hi, I'm Madge. I'm sure we'll have no problem in making you feel welcomed-"
"Cute, Madge," Finnick interrupted. "But I was talking about Katniss, here." Katniss' head snapped up at the mention of her name and she glared at Finnick. "See! No glaring at Peeta like that."
"I only glare at you 'cause you're an asshole," Katniss replied and defiantly turned to Peeta Mellark. She was ready to introduce herself and maybe even shake his hand, but any kind of thought process was cut off when she caught sight of his eyes.
They were a deep blue, but also they had slivers of different shades that made his eyes seem like crystals. They held a look of intelligence and calmness, and it reminded Katniss of an ocean made out of mosaic glass.
"Hi," Peeta said after a moment, and Katniss noticed a dazed look on face along with red cheeks. "I'm...I'm Peeta Mellark. It's nice to meet you."
"I'm Katniss," she said quickly and shook her head slightly. "Uh, Katniss Everdeen." And she tried not to cringe at how lame she sounded.
Peeta stuck out his hand, and she gripped it in a shake, though he held on longer before releasing and grinning at her again.
"That's a nice name. It's different...and it reminds me of spring time. I, ah, I like spring time."
Katniss felt her lip curl into a smirk and she took a step back. "Good to know, Peeta." Her smirk grew when he gave a goofy smile stemmed from embarrassment.
She turned on her heel and Madge joined her side quickly, a large grin on the girl's face.
"He's checking you out again," she murmured. "You're so into him, too."
Katniss stopped abruptly and turned to her friend with raised eyebrows. "I just met the guy, slow down."
"Okay, well, you stared at him for a good two minutes before introducing yourself. It was kinda cute actually-" Madge stopped and took a step away. "Well, guess who's coming over!"
"Uh, hi, Ladies."
Katniss bent down and grabbed her Corona, taking a swig before allowing herself to say anything to Peeta.
"You want a drink, Peeta? I'm going for a refill."
"Sure...um, just water for now. Thanks, Madge."
The blonde skipped away, but not before winking at Katniss behind Peeta's back.
"Guilty," Katniss replied and rolled the bottle between her hands.
"So...what else do you like besides Coronas?" Peeta asked and eyed her with slight flirtation.
Katniss grinned behind her bottle and shrugged. "You'll have to find out."
Katniss made sure she wore her nicest jeans, the stonewashed slim fits that Peeta loved, and her nicest sleeveless blouse. She was outside the restaurant/bar, that they always went to, just after seven-thirty. She wasn't on time, but she wasn't too late, either.
She was right on time to be the last one there. And, so when she walked in, Peeta's eyes would land on her and they'd make up. Because even though she ran, she always, deep down, wanted to come back. And that thought scared her.
It was funny in a weird way. She ran because she knew her feelings for Peeta were becoming more real than she ever intended, but she always came back because of them. And because it felt nice to be wanted.
Katniss walked in the dim space and the host smiled and nodded at her as he let her walk through the room to the outside patio doors where they usually sat. She stepped back outside and squinted against the sun that started to set. Her table, with all her friends, erupted in cheers as they spotted her. They all did, except for one. Peeta.
Her heart did a weird thing in her chest and it felt funny to breathe.
And suddenly, all her thoughts of him running up to her and forgiving her seemed far off and silly. She could tell by the way he took a long sip of his beer that he was upset.
"We almost thought you got abducted or something," Gale said from his seat next to Thresh. He pulled out the chair next to him and motioned for Katniss to sit, and she did. Right across from Peeta, too.
"Get caught up in reading again?" Madge asked with a grin, and Katniss knew everyone was trying to keep the mood light. She knew that secretly they were all disappointed in her. Secrets didn't stay secret in their group for long, and surely everyone knew of her and Peeta. Whatever was happening between them.
She played along, though. "Sure did."
A server came by and brought Katniss her usual Corona, and she smiled in thanks. The table fell into easy conversation, though Katniss couldn't say what it was about. She was too busy trying to catch Peeta's eye, but he didn't look up once. The grooves in the table seemed more appealing to him.
It must've been a really nice table, though, because Katniss found herself staring down at it, too. She felt her phone vibrate in her lap and looked down to find a group message from Johanna to her, Annie and Madge.
Katniss sighed and excused herself first. Of course Johanna would find another reason to lecture her for the second time in one day. And she was bringing Annie and Madge as back up, too.
Before she disappeared back inside, she looked over her shoulder at Peeta. He was picking at the label on his beer bottle intently with his brows furrowed, and Katniss felt her stomach twist. She didn't like to see him like that.
Katniss played with her hair while she waited in the empty bathroom, bracing herself for whatever she was in for. Johanna came in, followed by Annie and Madge, and the three girls looked over Katniss.
"Get it over with."
"I already told you everything I needed to earlier," Johanna said and uncrossed her arms, going over to lean against the counter next to Katniss. "He just...Shit, Katniss, he looks sad. Really sad."
Katniss nodded, she knew that much.
"Yeah, Kat. What exactly happened?" Madge asked gently, and Katniss appreciated the lack of accusation in her tone.
"Same thing as always," she mumbled and looked at the floor with shame. Madge knew...Madge knew how hard it was for Katniss. To feel for someone. "He takes me back, though. He always does...but this time..."
"He's tired of always cleaning up after this shit you pull-"
"Johanna!" Annie snapped. Usually reserved and calm, she shot a look at Johanna, her green eyes heated. "Do you always have to be so...so rude?"
"Yes, I do," Johanna gritted out at the brunette. "Because that's the only way Katniss will fucking get it!"
"I. Get. It." Katniss pushed away from the counter. "I get it, Johanna. I've gotten it every time, too. And I can't help it...Fight or flight, and all I've ever known is flight, okay? I don't need you to fucking lecture me every goddamn day, because I know. I know better than anyone else how much of a screw up I am, and I don't need your shit all the time!"
It was quiet for a minute after Katniss finished with a heaving chest. It was either from anger, or from the fact that she felt tears prick behind her eyes. Neither of the four were willing to speak as she looked her most vulnerable. But Johanna broke it with a sigh.
"Ah, shit, Katniss. I'm sorry-"
"Johanna, just leave her alone right now. Can you two give us a minute?" Madge said. The two girls nodded and left wordlessly. You just couldn't compete with a friendship like Madge and Katniss'. "Again?"
"I know what you're thinking, Madge..."
"No, you don't, Katniss. I'm just...I just want to know why again?"
Katniss sighed loudly and made a noise of anger. "He...Peeta just does these things! These things that are so, so nice and they make me feel good, and I don't know what to do! I can't...How can I do the same for him when I-" Katniss cut herself off and shook her head. "...I don't know."
When he came to apartment just to make her dinner because he knew she hadn't been eating properly. When he would remember little things about her, like her favourite episode of Friends is 'The One With All the Rugby.' He had always been so sweet, and she started to fear for the inevitable downfall. Nothing stayed perfect and good.
Her parents taught her that much.
The table cleared out around eleven at night when the warm summer air began to turn chilly, with a cool and salty breeze coming off the ocean. Katniss crossed her arms to keep warm as she waited for her bill along with Finnick, Annie and Peeta. Peeta, who had only looked at her once that whole night. And when he did, he looked away quickly.
Their bills came, and as Katniss finished paying, Annie walked by and gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze before her and Finnick bidded their goodbyes.
Katniss didn't attempt at speaking and neither did Peeta as they left the table wordlessly. She'd like to think this was their way of resolving what happened, but it wasn't.
They made it out the doors and onto the sidewalk, lit with bright lights from neighbouring stores and businesses, and Katniss couldn't help but notice the way Peeta's eyes shone under the red lights from the restaurant's sign. They looked something close to indigo.
Peeta seemed to be conflicted on whether to stay, or to keep walking to his car parked on the street. And Katniss made the first attempt at conversation to stop him from leaving if he planned to.
"Peeta," she said quietly, feeling feeble and small when his eyes landed on hers for the first time all night. His eyes were dull and he didn't smile at her like he always did.
"What, um, are you doing tonight?"
Peeta stared at her for a long time before answering. "Going home, and then to bed."
"Oh," Katniss said, the single word dripping with disappointment. She was caught off guard by the answer she wasn't expecting. Wasn't he supposed to invite her over? Tell her that everything was okay between them?
"You didn't call. Or text," Katniss said, the words escaping her mouth before she could process how stupid she sounded. Stupid.
Peeta looked almost incredulous. He shook his head and let out a sound of something mixed between a laugh and scoff.
"I did, Katniss. The morning after I woke up to find you gone once again. At first...I thought maybe, just maybe, you went home early and didn't want to wake me. Or maybe you went out to pick up breakfast for us. But I was wrong."
Katniss felt her heart clench as she pictured herself in Peeta' shoes. And she didn't like it. But she couldn't tell Peeta that. How stupid would that sound? 'Yeah, if you did that to me I'd be so livid. I'd hate you.' No, she couldn't tell him that.
Katniss also couldn't tell him why she left either. He asked plenty of times when she ran off before, but she'd always tell him it was nothing. And he wouldn't push it, he'd just give her a sad and hurt look that made her feel even worse.
"I...God, I'm sorry."
"Sorry? I know you are. That much is obvious, Katniss. But sorry doesn't always make it better."
"But...Peeta, this is us. It's what we do-"
"No," Peeta interrupted and shook his head vehemently. "No, Katniss, it's what you do. You leave, I don't."
Katniss stood there and tried to get herself to do something, anything that could help her. Though she couldn't think of anything, and her thoughts became panicked as it felt like Peeta was slipping away.
"Katniss, I care about you so much. More than anyone else...but I can't keep doing this, going through this." Peeta ran a hand through his blond hair and Katniss tried to convince herself that she didn't see tears in his eyes. "I want to be with you, but do you want to be with me? Because I'm...I'm not so sure if you do."
Katniss was quick to answer, almost desperate. "I do, Peeta!"
"Maybe...maybe it's time you could show me that you do, Katniss. This can't feel one sided anymore." And, as quick as a breeze, the anger and hurt faded from Peeta's voice and turned into guarded gentleness. Peeta was never one for staying angry too long, Katniss knew that.
"Are we...Peeta, are we over?" Katniss asked and she heard her own voice tremble despite her best efforts to stay composed. "Or, can we maybe start over?"
Peeta looked at her intently, as if he were studying her. "That's up to you now."
Katniss didn't know what he meant. Was she supposed to tell him that she wanted to start over and stay together? Or did he expect her to pretend as if they never met and then ask him out on date? She certainly couldn't do the latter. She just wanted her Peeta back, she wanted them back.
She remained unmoving, and Peeta breathed in deeply before letting his shoulders slump as he made a move to walk to his car.
But Katniss was feeling beyond desperate now. She wasn't used to this...to Peeta being the one to walk away. He couldn't just leave like that. That wasn't the Peeta she knew.
He was the fight and she was the flight. Fight and flight. Together they were good. Together they made sense, together they were natural.
And Peeta stilled his movements. He looked down briefly - and it almost seemed as if he wanted to smirk. But when he looked back up at her, his face was neutral. He faced her and leaned in, and Katniss felt her lips pucker slightly, ready for the kiss that she had been yearning for over the past two weeks.
Except his lips didn't meet hers. They met her right cheek and she felt so stupid for thinking he'd actually kiss her at that moment. And she also felt angry. And sad. Her eyes also stung, too, but she tried to ignore that.
"Bye," he said.
Katniss watched him walk across the street, down to his car. She watched him get in his car. She watched him slowly pull out of his parking space. And she watched him drive down the street.
She watched him leave her.
It was after midnight, but Madge was a good friend. The best one. She answered Katniss' call and didn't complain about the time, she just waited for Katniss to speak.
"He said it's up to me," Katniss said as she finished explaining what happened earlier. Madge was always much better at helping Katniss out with this.
"Well, Kat, I think maybe you've got to show him that you do care, that you want things to work out." Madge's voice was gentle through the speaker of the phone. "You have to look at it from Peeta's perspective, too. He's the one that chases you...maybe he wants to be chased."
But that's not how it goes. Peeta was the one who knew how to handle a relationship. He was good at the relationship part, and Katniss was not. She wasn't good at the words, or dealing with the feelings, or whatever. She relied on Peeta for that.
Then he went and made it her job.
"I know, but at least if you try...you did your best."
"You're making it sound like I'm going to lose him," Katniss said with pain coursing through her as she curled up more on the couch, staring at the muted TV. "I don't want to lose him, Madge."
"No, no. I didn't mean it like that. I just meant, it'd be worse to not try at all," Madge explained on the other end. "I'm not going to lie, Katniss - you do have a lot of stuff to make up for. But you and Peeta are far from over. You just...you need to open up to him if you really want to save what you guys have."
She knew that. She knew that she had to tell him why she ran, why she was scared. But how could she get it out into words? She was terrible with words.
"I know you can do it. Come on, I remember the way you were drooling over him when you two first met in October. I vaguely remember hearing you flirt. Katniss Everdeen, you flirted."
Katniss found herself chuckling at the memory. She and Peeta couldn't even get through a few flirty sentences before they laughed together.
"I wouldn't have considered that good flirting."
"Ah," Madge said with the cluck of her tongue. "It was still flirting, nonetheless."
"He was so..."
"Yeah," Katniss chuckled. "When we met...he was the first guy I ever really noticed. He left an impression."
"Must've been doing something right, huh?"
"I think I'll give him a few days to himself," Katniss said, sounding a plan out loud. "Then maybe...I don't know. Do I call him?"
Madge moved on the other end of the line, the sound of ruffling sheets. "Yeah. Start simple, Katniss. Ask him how work is going, his family. You know- just try to be involved."
Admittedly, Katniss never did that often. She asked him once in a blue moon how his day went. Even when he look upset, she never asked what happened. Because he would have to tell her what was wrong and she never knew how to comfort someone.
"Don't jump straight into opening up to him...just reacquaint yourselves. Call him in a few days. Ask him a few questions and then do whatever feels right after." Madge was serious and she sighed. "But, Kat, promise me you won't run when it gets tough or scary."
Katniss stayed silent.
"When you get scared, or overwhelmed, just talk to Peeta about it. Let him in, Katniss. It's okay to do that. Not everything will break, okay?"
"Thank you, Madge. For not-"
"For not being a Johanna?" Madge supplied, and Katniss could practically hear the smirk in her voice.
"Yes, for that," she said in agreement and let out an airy chuckle. "I'll talk to you later."
"It'll be okay. Get some sleep, Kat."
They hung up, but Katniss didn't move from her spot. She felt her hands shake, and no matter how tight she clenched them, the shaking didn't cease. She wondered if this is how Peeta felt when she left. She felt utterly alone despite the fact that she wasn't actually. If Peeta felt like that, she had a lot of making up to do.
When would it be okay for her to ask to see him again? When could she start showing up at his place unannounced like she always did? How long would it take for the emptiness, she begun to feel, to consume her?
What if Peeta rejected her and told her they were over if she called him? Katniss never knew that feeling...that feeling of needing someone and being shut out. And now she felt indescribably sad, because she did not want to lose Peeta.
But she also didn't know the first step in getting him back. And she realized, right then, that she needed to learn Peeta. She never paid much attention to the small details, like his favourite episode of his favourite show, or his favourite smell. She needed to, but she also wanted to.
Because she wanted Peeta Mellark, and she was determined to prove that to him. Even though she was scared shitless.