I am thrilled that this story has received such a positive response! I can't thank you enough for all the reviews and kind messages here and on tumblr. And I'll say thanks to the guest reviewers now, since I can't respond to you!

Huge thanks to my beta ct522 (titania522 on tumblr). Thanks to her patience with me constantly pestering her with questions and drafts of outlines, and her willingness to help me brainstorm ideas… this story is fully planed out, which is a huge luxury for a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer like me!

Thanks for reading! I really hope you enjoy this chapter and please be sure to leave a review. I love hearing your thoughts!

"Reginald Oakes."

"Samantha Oar."

"Xu Oba."

"Emily O'Brien."

I am trying hard to listen to each name, to comprehend each one spoken, alternating between two women at the moment, one young and one old. I try let each one ring with the same significance that 'James Everdeen' held when it was read aloud by an elderly gentleman, what feels like hours ago. Each of these names was someone's James Everdeen, and each of them deserves to be heard- deserves to be listened to. But there have been so many, and we have been standing for so long that, try as I might, my mind wanders again.

Being here, where it all happened exactly ten years ago, I expected to feel more, but a surreal sort of numbness has taken over me. In the weeks leading up to today I fretted over whether or not I would be able to hold it together for Prim, worried somehow that I would be overcome with the fear and sadness I am sometimes unable to keep at bay. But I should have known that wouldn't happen- it never comes when I expect it to. Instead it creeps up on me unexpectedly, choosing the most inopportune times and places, forcing my mind back to a childlike state of fear in the middle of a busy restaurant or during an important exam. Or even worse, in the dead of night, trapping me in the nightmare of that day when no one is around to call my name and assure me that it's not real.

I'm brought out of my grim thoughts by a gentle squeeze to my left hand and look over at Prim, meeting her concerned blue eyes and conjuring what I hope is a reassuring smile. She is not fooled though, my intuitive sister. As hard as I try to protect her from what is inside of me, she sees everything, often anticipating my panic attacks even before I feel them coming myself.

"Are you okay?" she asks.

I nod and am able to offer a more genuine smile this time. Just knowing I have her support helps a great deal. "I'm good, Little Duck," I whisper, bumping her shoulder gently with mine. "Probably better than I should be, all things considered."

She gives me a look that tells me she knows I am trying to humor her- or keep something from her- but she lets it go, instead glancing at our mother who is standing to her left. "I think we should go find dad's name at the pools so that I can get a rubbing of it," Prim intones quietly. "Don't you think, mom?"

Our mother doesn't answer right away, her thoughts having carried her off somewhere, and Prim glances at me nervously. I roll my eyes, annoyed with my mother's inability to remain present for this, but offer no further complaint for Prim's sake. "Mom," Prim tries again, succeeding in drawing her attention this time.

"I'm sorry," she says, offering a somewhat abashed smile. "What was that, Primrose?"

"I was asking if you wanted to go find dad's name with us," Prim clarifies, so much more patient than I am. I guess she has to be, though. She has been playing peacekeeper between my mother and me for ten years now. Mom nods, her eyes clouding over and tearing up, as though just the words 'dad's name' are too much for her.

I repress the swelling tide of bitterness that so often wells up when I'm in her presence, and tell Prim that I will catch up with them in a few minutes. Now is not the time or place for me to be harboring ill feelings of any sort, and I have found that distance between me and my mother is the best way to handle our situation.

The anger that began to simmer inside me at her reaction to my father's name being read earlier is quickly turning into a boil, and I need to calm down before my temper gets the better of me. Prim and I both bore it stoically, nothing more than a few silent tears trickling free. But hearing his name incited a small torrent of emotion in my mother, and she let out a small sob and collapsed into Prim's side. It's not that I feel she is being over dramatic- I know her feelings are genuine. What gets to me is that it never occurred to her that she should try to be strong for Prim and me. She never once thought that she would need to console us… Today has been all about her grief, her loss. As has been every other day since my father died.

I need to direct my attention away from the fiery rage that she so often incites in me. Sometimes I wonder if the fire that permanently marked me on the outside ten years ago, somehow left its mark inside of me as well. But if I'm honest I have always been quick tempered, a fire always burning inside of me. Now my skin just advertises it for the world to see.

I take a few deep, calming breaths and direct my attention back to the two women currently tasked with reading the litany of the dead. They must have reached the end of their lists, as the elderly woman is saying a few words about her husband, Emmanuel Ortiz, and new readers are being ushered up the stairs behind the stage. As she is finishing, a handsome copper-haired boy approaches the other podium and climbs somberly onto a step stool so that he can reach the microphone. I hadn't noticed him earlier, but he must be the younger woman's son, as she stands protectively at his side and runs a motherly hand over his rumpled curls.

The boy's voice is clear and confident despite the sadness evident in his tone as he reads from his card, "And my dad, Finnick Odair, who I never got to meet. Mom says that you told me you loved me through her belly before you left for work the morning you died." He pauses for a moment and when he continues his little voice is thick with emotion. "Well, I love you too, Dad."

Even from this distance I can see that his mother's face is wet with tears as she places a hand on his back to guide him down from the podium. I watch their retreating figures for a moment, but have to turn away as she leans down to press a firm kiss to the top of his head just before they descend the stairs. That loving gesture affects me almost as much as hearing my father's name read earlier. I don't know if it is the senselessness of this boy growing up never knowing his father, or the sight of a mother being so steady and strong for her child, but I feel the darkness that I have been managing all day begin to creep up on me. Feeling the need to escape, I head in the direction of the memorial pools so that I can find my mother and Prim and get out of here as soon as possible.

I spot them right away as I approach the North Pool and immediately decide to divert my path. Mom is crying again, her hand resting on the parapet, tracing back and forth across what I can only assume is my father's name inscribed there, as Prim holds her shaking form comfortingly. The chasm that yawns between me and my mother is so deep that it feels like joining them would be intruding on a private family moment of which I am no part. I'll let them have this time, vowing to return some other day to bear my grief in solitude as I always have.

Pulling out my phone I send Prim a text telling her to let me know when they are ready to go, and head in the direction of the South Pool. I know all of the first responders are listed together there, and while I'm almost certain I won't find the name of the man so often on my mind, I can't resist the urge to go look.

The area around the pool is quite crowded, but I politely dodge past a few people milling about and approach the dark bronze parapet. My eyes skitter quickly across the names in front of me, but none of them are the one I am looking for- a fact for which I am grateful. I'm not entirely sure I even understand why, but to see the name Mellark inscribed here would devastate me, of that I am certain.

As I move along the side, intent on rounding the corner to continue looking, I notice a group of firemen in dress uniforms standing along the adjacent side. Despite the fact that the area is teeming with activity, the crowd seems to be giving these men a wide berth. I pause and watch for a minute as they solemnly scan the names in front of them, occasionally reaching out a hand to trace across an inscription. The oldest among them captures my attention as he removes his hat, revealing a head of closely cropped and graying dark hair, and braces his free hand on the parapet.

I take a moment to glance over his uniform, and I think my heart might slam to a stop in my chest when I see an insignia there emblazoned with 'E10.' I quickly scan the uniforms of the men around him and note a mixture of 'E10' and 'L10' among them. I know what these indicate- the men are from Engine and Ladder Companies 10. I hear his voice in my head again as though it is being spoken to me now, rather than as a ghost of a memory from so long ago, "I'm Mellark, Ladder 10! Our radios were in and out! Some are still up there! They didn't get the evacuation command!"

A few years ago, when I first moved out on my own and was starting at NYU, I became almost obsessively fixated on learning about FDNY. My therapist said that I was channeling my anxiety over major life changes into immersing myself in something that made me feel safe. It was during that time that the notion that I should find the person who saved my life first entered my mind, and in my research I learned all about the structure and organization of New York's fire department. I never did find anyone by the name of Mellark, either as a current employee or on the memorial rosters, but I did learn his company, Ladder 10, was part of Engine Company 10 which is operated out of the firehouse on Liberty St., directly across from the World Trade Center.

My heart is hammering in anticipation as I take in the face of each man standing across from me, but none of them ignite a spark of recognition. The face of my firefighter- for that is still how I tend to think of him, even after all these years- is a bit of a blur in my memory. Unsurprising, I suppose, since every glimpse I got of it was either flushed and contorted with exertion or coated in a thick layer of dust and debris. But his blue eyes I remember with perfect clarity, and they are not present among the men standing here.

"Come on, Captain," one of the men says gruffly, clapping the older man on the back heartily. "We're gonna go to Duffy's for a few rounds. You should join us."

"Nah," the other responds, "the kind of drinking this day requires is best done alone." His voice holds a trace of humor and affection, but I sense a measure of truth lingering there as well.

The men nod and turn to walk away, a few bumping the side of their fists on the captain's back consolingly as they push past him and several murmuring 'see you tomorrow, Cap,' or 'take it easy, old man.' I watch for another minute as he continues to hold his gaze fixated on the names in front of him, unsure of what I should do- wanting to ask him about the man I've thought about every day for the past ten years, but worried that approaching him here might be inappropriate.

I am spurred into action, however, when he replaces his hat and turns to leave. I push past a few people and round the corner of the parapet, reaching him before he has even made it a few feet. "Excuse me," I start, but he either doesn't hear me or doesn't realize I'm addressing him, because he continues to slowly make his way along the edge of the pool. "Excuse me, Captain!" I try again.

He pauses and glances over his shoulder without completely turning around as I catch up with him. "Yeah?" he responds after a moment and his tone is much surlier than it was when he was addressing his men a few minutes ago.

"Uh, I'm… sorry to bother you, but…" I stutter awkwardly and trail off, unsure what to say.

He turns fully toward me, impatience etched in every line of his body as my nervous silence continues to stretch between us. "But?" he prompts, somewhat snidely.

I feel my hackles begin to rise at his attitude. I square my shoulders and finally blurt, "My name is Katniss, Katniss Everdeen." I stick my hand out at him awkwardly, almost as an afterthought.

He glances down at my hand, then slowly back up at me before finally reaching out and shaking my hand. "Haymitch Abernathy," he grunts reluctantly.

"It's a pleasure to meet you Captain Abernathy," I say, trying to remain polite despite the fact that he is clearly not inclined toward civility. I continue when he does nothing more than raise his eyes at me expectantly. "I, um, well… You are the captain of Engine Company 10?" I ask. Receiving no response from him I plug on. "Well, I was wondering if I could ask you about one of your men."

He cocks his head in the direction the men he was with a few minutes ago retreated. "Well, most of 'em are on their way Duffy's on Church Street. Why don't you go talk to them yourself?" he responds dismissively, turning away again.

"Not one of those men," I say loudly, my temper beginning to show.

He turns back to me, sighing in exasperation and says, "Well, if you're talkin' about one of those men," he gestures toward the parapet of names, "then the answer is no."

"No," I rush to assure him. "He's not one those ones either. At least, I don't think he is."

"Look, sweetheart," he intones derisively, "today is a shit day and I got a bottle of gin at home with my name on it. So if you got somethin' to say, let's go ahead and get it over with."

"Mellark," I blurt, beyond annoyed with this man's unwarranted attitude. I am satisfied to see recognition register on his face upon hearing the name, so I continue. "I was eleven years old when my father died in that tower," I state, pointing toward the North Pool. "I sustained third degree burns on approximately 20% of my body, and would have surely died too, if it weren't for one of your men, who carried me down 22 flights of stairs out of a building that was destined to crumble to dust in a matter of minutes." I pause for a second to reign in my escalating temper, and finally mutter through clenched teeth, "His last name was Mellark."

Captain Abernathy nods thoughtfully for a moment, and I somehow have the feeling that my display of backbone has earned me a small measure of grudging respect. "Yeah, I knew him. He was a good kid." His words cause a moment a dread until he continues, "And you're right, you won't find him here." He waves toward the pool. "But I don't know what you want from me, girl. You should understand better than anyone that we spend a whole lot of time just trying to forget all the bad shit in this life, and everything that happened here is at the top of my 'bad shit' list. Peeta Mellark was a Probie- greener than you can imagine- when he had this whole raft of shit heaped on him. I can guarantee you all of this is at the top of his list of things to forget as well." He glances away for a moment, and when his eyes land on me again they are cold and haunted. "I don't know what you're fishin' for here, but I can't help you. I haven't kept in contact with the boy, and even if I had I don't know that it'd be a good idea to encourage you to stir up things best left alone."

My heart drops into my stomach and I am mortified to feel the sting of tears behind my eyes. I didn't realize just how high my hopes had climbed in the scant few minutes since it first occurred to me that I might leave here today with some information about the man who saved my life. And I know on some level that my disappointment goes beyond dashed hopes of meeting him, but also the recognition that he is likely not the solid and invincible hero of my memory, but a flesh and blood man who may be just as damaged as I am. Peeta, I think to myself, relieved to finally know his first name.

My attention is drawn again by a loud, resigned sigh from Abernathy, but I studiously keep my eyes trained on the ground, unwilling to let this surly old man see me upset. "Look, sweetheart," he finally says, his tone somewhat less cynical than before. "I don't know where Peeta is now, that's the truth. But… I do remember him talking quite a bit about his hometown before he decided to leave the force. I think if someone were to seek him out, that'd be a good place to start." I turn to him in surprise, meeting his gaze despite my resolution not to. "Someplace up in Westchester County. I think it was something Corners… Scotts Corners, maybe?"

"Thank you," I say simply. He just nods once and turns away without another word.

I uncurl my legs from underneath me to stand from my desk when I hear my intercom buzz. Walking to the door I hold down the button and hear Prim's bright voice on the other end. "It's just me! I come bearing gifts." I smile to myself as I buzz her in. I should have known she'd be over here to check on me tonight. I turn the deadbolt and undo the chain before resuming my place in front of the computer, continuing to click through the photo gallery of astonishingly beautiful cakes and pastries.

A moment later my apartment door opens and Prim enters carrying a casserole dish. "What's that?" I ask as she passes by me on the way to my small kitchen.

"Lasagna from the dinner that you didn't bother to show up for," she states. "Mom asked me to bring it over."

I just roll my eyes and resume my scrolling without responding.

"Sure, Katniss. I'll tell her you said 'thanks' and 'sorry' for blowing us off tonight," Prim calls after a moment.

I sigh, "I didn't blow you off. You know I can't deal with her when she's like this."

"When she's like what? Grieving over the anniversary of her husband's death?" Prim says tartly, walking toward me.

I snap my head back to my computer screen, stung by the censure in her words. Prim is never critical of me and I can always count on her understanding. Coming to stand behind my desk chair she wraps me in a tight hug around my shoulders and presses a kiss into my hair. "I'm sorry," she murmurs, resting her chin on top of my head. "I can't even imagine what today must have been like for you. I wish she could be better. I wish she could be strong for you- for both of us. But that's just not who she is. And I don't like that I have to choose between you two."

"Sorry," I mutter somewhat ungraciously. "I'm fine, Prim. Really. You can go be with Mom."

Prim snorts a laugh as she straightens up. "Please. She took an Ambien before I left. She's down for the count." She walks over to retrieve her bag from where she left it by my front door and produces a bottle of some sort of white wine. "Besides, I would rather be here with you anyway," she says, waving the bottle around.

"Prim! How did you even get that?" She may tower over me, but she most definitely looks her 17 years. There is no way she bought it.

"Gale got it for you," she says grinning.

"I'm going to kill Gale," I grumble, totally unsurprised that my best friend would be the source through which my underage sister would obtain alcohol. "And you can't drink that. You're too young."

"I've drank before, Katniss," Prim says, rolling her eyes and walking to the kitchen. "But it doesn't matter because it's for you, not me."

I go back to clicking through the website I have been perusing as I hear her puttering around in the kitchen. She returns a few minutes later to place a plate of lasagna and a glass of wine on the desk in front of me. "What is that?" she asks looking at my computer. "Mellark Family Bakery? As in Mellark, Mellark?"

Prim knows all about my firefighter, including the fact that I have been compelled to find him these past few years. "Yeah. I didn't want to say anything in front of Mom, but I met the captain of his ladder company today… his former ladder company," I amend. "His first name is Peeta."

"Oh my god, Katniss! I can't believe you didn't say anything!" Prim declares, leaning down to get a better look at the screen. "Peeta, huh? That's a weird name."

"Yeah, because Katniss and Primrose are so run-of-the-mill," I tease, taking a sip of wine. She tugs my braid in playful admonition and I continue. "Apparently he retired from the department- I don't know how long ago- but his captain told me that he used to talk about his hometown, {}, a lot. So I looked it up, and there is a Mellark Family Bakery there."

"Not exactly a common name," she says. "It's got to be the same family, right?"

I nod, "I'm sure."

"So what are you going to do?"

I don't respond right away. "I don't know… The captain sort of gave me the feeling that I shouldn't go, but I have to, right?"

"Why do you have to, Katniss?" Prim asks softly.

"I can't explain it. I just… I just need to." I struggle to figure out how to explain what I feel. "I need to meet him and I don't even know why. I have no idea what I expect meeting him to accomplish, but… He was there, you know? He saw Dad, and he saw me, and I… I just need to," I repeat stupidly.

"What do you think Dr. A. would have to say about it?" This is so like Prim, to consider all the pragmatic aspects, like the long-term effects on my mental wellbeing.

I can almost hear Dr. Aurelius' words in my head as I tell her, "I don't know. Probably something about me seeking closure, or projecting, or some other unhelpful shrink talk that won't change how I feel one bit."

Prim is thoughtful for a few moments. "Okay," Prim finally states simply. "I'll come too."

I crane my neck to look at her, "What? You don't have to do that."

"I'm coming with you, Katniss. End of discussion." She can be as stubborn as a mule sometimes. "Now come on- I nabbed Rory's pirated copy of Captain America because I know how much you like blond guys," she grins mischievously. "And if anything can take your mind off this shitty day it is a shirtless Chris Evans."

Prim's ploy works and, between her presence and the distraction of the movie, the rest of the night passes remarkably well considering how emotionally draining the day was. Prim even manages to coax a few laughs out of me by teasing me about fixating intently on the screen whenever Steve Rogers appears half-clothed. By the time ten o'clock rolls around my head is pleasantly fuzzy and my eyes are drooping from the wine. I feel as if I could easily fall into a peaceful sleep with no trouble tonight, which was probably Prim's intention with the wine all along.

I usher her out the door, despite her protests that she should stay the night with me, insisting that she get home since she has school in the morning. After changing into my old, worn-out sleep shirt, I crawl into bed and mercifully drift off to sleep almost immediately.

But, as is so often the case, my peace tonight is fleeting and I wake a few hours later drenched in sweat, my heart beating painfully fast in my chest. Tonight's dream was especially vivid, even conjuring the memory of the cacophony of horrible smells that never fails to incite a panic attack- smoke, chemicals, jet fuel and, most horrific of all, my and Dad's charred skin.

I sit up in bed, trying to focus on the breathing exercises Dr. Aurelius taught me so many years ago, but I can't concentrate on anything other than my frantic heart and the prickling feeling that consumes my skin. That is the worst part I think- that I feel prickling everywhere except across the decimated skin on the left side of my body, making me hyper-aware of the physical proof of how badly damaged I truly am.

It only takes a few moments before I give up on the doctor-approved methods to calm my anxiety. I leave the bed and walk on unsteady legs to my closet. Reaching in on the right side, all the way to the back, I can already feel myself begin to calm a bit just from grasping the sturdy, heavy fabric in my hand. The light from a streetlamp outside renders the reflective yellow stripes visible against the black jacket.

Retreating to the living room I waste no time in wrapping the cumbersome garment around me and curling up in my comfortable armchair. Despite the fact that I am ten years older than I was the first time I wore it, the huge item still totally engulfs my entire body and I'm still able to curl up inside, to tell myself that everything will be okay by imagining the strong, solid arms that carried me to safety; that held at bay a world that was consumed by fire.

I take a deep, bracing breath, trying to calm my nerves and work up the courage to go inside. In the week and a half since I got the lead on Peeta Mellark, I have been looking forward to today with equal parts anticipation and dread. Prim was practically bouncing with excitement at the prospect of meeting him, and was more than a little sullen that I insist she wait for me at the hotel so that I could get through this first meeting on my own. Now part of me wishes I had her here for moral support, but if this doesn't turn out well I'd rather she not have to witness it.

I scold myself for feeling so cowardly and square my shoulders, deciding it is best to just get this over with. For better or worse, at least I will know something more when I leave here today. I tug on my left sleeve and pull my strategically braided hair over my left shoulder- calculated attempts to hide as much of my scarred skin as possible- before resolutely pushing through the door.

The light tinkling of the shop bell seems to reflect the overall cheeriness of the scene inside the bakery. The delicious mixture of savory and sweet smells, the beautifully polished carved wood trim and casings, and the soft din of friendly voices all combine to give the place an openly welcoming atmosphere. I stand at the back of the small line of customers, observing a very pretty dark-skinned girl- who I guess to be about Prim's age- and a very pregnant blond woman as they serve the people in front of me.

I let my eyes wander across the delectable assortment of breads, cakes, and pastries on display and am astonished by the quality of goods on sale at this small-town bakery. I don't spend too much time on them though, because in the next moment, I catch a glimpse of a man visible for just a second down the hallway that leads to the back of the bakery as he passes through the large kitchen. My heart rate accelerates because my brief glimpse gave me the distinct impression of blond curls and a strong physique.

The blond woman calls out to me and I realize I am next in line. "Good afternoon, miss. What can we do for you today?"

My face flushes as I admit, "Oh, um, actually I am looking for someone. Does a Mr. Mellark work here?"

She flashes a bright smile and responds, "Of course! Mr. Mellark is the owner. Is he expecting you?"

"Uh, no. Sorry, I can come back some other time if he's busy," I rush out self-consciously.

"Don't be silly! It's fine." She looks at the younger girl. "Rue, honey, will you go let him know he has a visitor?" Rue disappears into the back and the blond woman chatters away politely, telling me her name is Delly. Before I can introduce myself Rue returns from the back, followed closely by a tall, broad shouldered man with a white apron tied around his waist and his arms covered in flour up to his elbows.

He glances at me questioningly- flashing blue eyes in my direction- but doesn't acknowledge me further until he has approached Delly. Placing a large hand on her belly and kissing her forehead he asks, "How are you feeling, dear?"

Her plump cheeks flush prettily as she insists, "I'm just fine. I've done this three times now. I'm tough enough to get through the work day." She waives off his next suggestion that she should get off her feet for a minute and says, "You have someone here to see you. Stop worrying about me and go greet your visitor."

My heart plummets to my stomach as I watch their exchange. Not only am I disappointed to not have felt some sort of profound recognition upon seeing him again, but it also never occurred to me that he would be married with a family. I feel stupid for not having considered this. The niggling doubt I have been experiencing about whether or not I should have come is now at the forefront of my mind, and I suddenly realize this was a terrible idea.

Heeding his wife's admonishment, the baker finally directs his full attention to me. "Hi there. What can I do for you?"

I stand mute, willing some sort of sensible words out of my mouth. I gape at him in silence for what feels like forever, until I finally blurt ineloquently, "I'm Katniss Everdeen."

I expected some sort of reaction, but he looks at me uncomprehendingly, his face reflecting his bemusement. "Okay, Ms. Everdeen. What can I do for you?"

He doesn't remember me?! I think. I don't understand how it's possible, when I have thought about him literally every day for the past ten years. In all the different ways I imagined this day going, I didn't for a second anticipate that he wouldn't remember me. I am at a loss for words, so I stutter out, "I'm… I am the, uh… the girl. From the Trade Center… when I was eleven."

He looks confused at my garbled words for a second before realization suddenly dawns on his face, "Oh! Are you looking for Peeta Mellark?! My name is Tommin. Peeta is my younger brother."

For some reason this causes relief to crash through me like a tidal wave. "You're not Peeta Mellark?" I ask, idiotically stating the obvious.

"No, no." His face becomes a bit more guarded after a moment. "Peeta doesn't talk about it much, but he did mention that he helped a little girl that day."

I nod. "Your brother saved my life," I state plainly, meeting the baker's gaze directly for the first time.

"And so you've come here looking for him." It is a statement, not a question, so I don't respond and he continues. "Look, uh, Ms. Everdeen. Peeta doesn't really like to dwell on that stuff too much."

Disappointment begins to filter in. "I understand that. I don't like to dwell on it either." I pause and Tommin opens his mouth to continue, but I interject before he can tell me the same thing Captain Abernathy told me, about how I shouldn't try to drudge up the past. "I'm sorry. I know I just barged in here on you all today… but, do you know what it is like to look at someone and know that they are your last hope?" Tommin shakes his head solemnly and I continue, "Well, I do. And you never forget the face of that person. Your brother has been with me every single day since it all happened. I'm not sure why exactly, but I need to meet him." Silence reigns in the bakery for a few moments, and when I speak again I can barely manage a whispered, "Please."

It takes me less than ten minutes to follow the directions Tommin and Delly gave me to a small house just a few miles out of town. Gale let Prim and I borrow his beat up old car to make the trip out of the city, and the radio has been broken for years so I have nothing other than my nervous thoughts to keep me company as I traverse the long drive.

I park behind a red Dodge Ram pickup and slip off my sunglasses before stepping out of the car. There doesn't appear to be any movement in or around the house but I can hear music playing from somewhere.

My heart is hammering and I can feel the tell-tale prickling of my skin that accompanies an anxiety attack, but I have come this far and I refuse to let my fears get the better of me right now. Crossing the tidy wooden porch I open the screen door and knock tentatively. I wait for several seconds but receive no answer so I try again. I wonder briefly if perhaps my knocking can't be heard over the music, but the noise isn't any louder on the porch than it was by my car, so I surmise that it isn't coming from inside.

I descend the steps and walk around the side of the house. Across an expanse of lawn I can see a pole barn out back with the doors propped open and loud alt. rock-country pouring out. Trying to repress my anxiety I begin walking slowly toward the barn, willing myself to keep going and absently wishing I had let Prim come with me after all.

When I reach the open doors I am surprised to see that it is much brighter inside than I had anticipated. Not only from the skylights distributed throughout the ceiling, but also because of the variety of color that is present in every possible direction. Huge canvases are propped along nearly every inch of available wall space, all of them displaying vibrant color in bold strokes. At first, I am so mesmerized by the artwork that I almost forget the reason I have come, and it takes a few moments for my eyes to land on the figure moving in front of a canvas so huge that I can't imagine who would actually be able to fit the painting in their home.

An overwhelming rush of emotion rockets through me as I watch him paint, his whole body moving with his broad strokes. That sense of recognition and awareness that I expected to feel earlier envelopes me, and I suddenly realize how silly it was for me to mistake Tommin for Peeta earlier. Seeing him now, glimpsing nothing other than the play of muscle along his back as he works I realize I would have recognized him anywhere.

I stand paralyzed for a few moments, apparently totally content to observe him as he uses his large brush to spread wide strokes of color across his canvas. But after a few moments he plops his brush in a basin of water and as he turns to select another from the table set up nearby he finally notices me.

When he glances up at me I realize just how different Tommin's eyes were. This is the clear blue gaze that, until now, has only existed in my memory, since the day they made a frightened girl recall the most beautiful sky she had ever seen amid the worst ordeal of her life.

I also need to give credit to gentlemama for inspiring part of this chapter. She sent me a very thoughtful message on tumblr that inspired me to use the canon tie-in of "you don't forget the face of the person who was your last hope." So appropriate for this fic, and I hadn't even made that connection, so thanks awesome lady!

Thanks again! I really do appreciate every favorite, follow, and especially review! I would love if you found me on tumblr (plumgal1899 over there too). I frequently post drabbles and previews so you should check it out! :D