a/n: Final chapter! Hopefully, this chapter makes up for the cliffhanger in the last one. Everyone had their own rather creative guesses about why Peeta was so freaked out about having sex with Katniss and what he was hidingI wasn't prepared for all the speculation! I really hope you guys find the conclusion satisfying. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing, it means a lot to me! I've got another story in the works, and I hope to start publishing it soon.

The dread is so swift and awful in her stomach, Katniss is afraid she might actually throw up.

There's something I should tell you.

Nothing good ever follows a declaration like that. Intentionally or not, Peeta pauses while he searches for his words, and even in that brief moment, Katniss' mind is spinning with all the different possibilities of what, exactly, he thinks he needs to tell her.

Katniss, I'm gay. And being with you helped me realize it. Thank you.

Katniss, I'm actually married and have three children in a different town.

And also, you are not the only woman I'm having an affair with.

When he doesn't finish quickly enough for her liking, her defenses kick in, stoking red-hot coals of anger in her breast. "Well, what?" she snaps at him, and he swallows, scratching at the side of his neck. She wonders if she's imagining the sheen of perspiration dotting his hairline.

"Well...I've...had a crush on you as long as I can remember."

It's so not what she's expecting him to say that it takes her a moment to register what he's even said. Actually, she's not even sure that's the secret he means to tell her. "What?" she finally asks. It sounds like a bird squawking.

He meets her gray eyes, slanted in confusion and irritation. "Remember how I told you about preschool? When we were in the same class?" he says, and she nods slowly. "I've liked you since then. Through elementary school, middle school, high school. Guess I kind of got a reprieve in college since you weren't around." His mouth twitches in a quick smile, but when she just stares at him, he drops his gaze and picks at the comforter. "Well, anyway. I felt like I needed to admit that. I didn't want to freak you out in the beginning by telling you all this. I was afraid you'd find it creepy that I, ah...harbored these feelings for you all this time. Especially when we never even talked in school."

Creepy. Creepy isn't the word for what she's thinking. Improbable is more like it.

"You picked up my pencil for me one time in class," she whispers dumbly because it's all she can think to say at the moment.

He nods. "That's right. Guess I should've started laying the groundwork then, huh?"

"I thought you were just being nice."

"Well, I wish I could say it was all part of some long con to meet up with you again seven years later, but really, I'd just been watching you chew on that eraser for 15 minutes straight when you'd dropped it," he says, his tone wry.

She inhales deeply, still reeling. She actually feels light-headed. So she's supposed to believe that the guy she was crushing on in high school also had a crush on her. But neither of them knew it. How the hell does that work? She almost wants to laugh.

Actually, she does laugh. She starts laughing so hard that tears bead in the corners of her eyes. "Oh my god," she gasps, choking on air and spittle. "This is so—so stupid."

He makes a face to disguise the hurt in his eyes. "Please elaborate."

Sniffling, she wipes at her eyes and throws her hands up, exasperated. "You just scared the shit out of me, Peeta! There's something I need to tell you. Jesus Christ! I thought it was something serious! You had a crush on me? I had a crush on you! This is so ridiculous!" she laughs again, because it is. They've been dancing around each other all this time when they've actually both been on the same page.

Peeta looks stunned. "I'm sorry—what? You liked me in high school?" She nods, still shaking with quiet, periodic giggles. "How?" he asks, mystified.

She shoots him an incredulous look, gesturing to him. "How? Look at you! Everybody loved you! I mean, you were popular and athletic and good-looking, how the hell could you have a crush on me? I was surly and standoffish and just—I should have been so far off your radar in school!"

He shrugs and smiles at her, but bewilderment still masks his eyes. "I think by definition crushes are illogical."

At that, her laughter stops, and she scowls at him. "Thanks."

His eyes widen, and he laughs as he backtracks. "No! I mean—I don't know how to explain a crush. It just, it's been there as long as I can remember. I was absolutely intimidated by you."

"Intimidated," she repeats dubiously. It's absurd.

"Too intimidated to talk to you then, in school. God, I think that just attracted me to you even more—which should probably be a little concerning," he muses flippantly before shaking his head. "When I saw you again in Ripper's...I don't know. For so long, I was so mad at myself for not trying to talk to you in school. And suddenly here was this opportunity to fix all that, and there was no way in hell I was going to let that pass. But...honestly, I'm still intimidated by you."

Katniss stares at him uncomprehendingly. "What do you mean? Why?"

He sighs and rubs his fingers over his brow. "The first time I see you again, it's because somebody's written my name in a bathroom stall. About my alleged sexual prowess. And suddenly, I can only imagine you have all these assumptions and expectations about me, and...there's no way I can live up to them."

Her eyes widen. "Peeta..."

He looks embarrassed, focusing his eyes elsewhere. "I want to have sex with you, so bad, Katniss. You have no idea. It's something I've thought about since it even occurred to me that I could have sex. Again—really not trying to freak you out. And then, here's the girl of my dreams, and she wants to be with me—I think—but she probably thinks I'm supposed to be this animal in the bedroom and...I'm scared as shit of disappointing you, of ruining this." He tips his head back in exasperation. "I mean, best sex of your life. Fuck. As if performance anxiety isn't already a real thing!" His knee is bouncing anxiously, shaking the whole mattress.

"Peeta...I don't..." Her words falter. She doesn't know what to say because she realizes she can't exactly refute it; she has made assumptions because of that stupid bathroom stall message.

He finally meets her eyes again. "Katniss, I haven't dated since I started business school. It's been that long. I haven't had the time, or, really, the interest," he says solemnly. "I have no idea who would have written that about me, but...to be perfectly honest, I haven't even had sex in two years, since I ended things with my ex-girlfriend."

She stares at him a moment before she replies. "Me neither, actually. It's been that long for me too—longer, maybe," she admits, twisting the sheets around her fingers nervously.

He exhales heavily, looking away again. "Well. That's everything I wanted to tell you. I just keep psyching myself out every time we get physical," he says, almost to himself, like he's scolding himself. "I want this to work, Katniss. I want a relationship with you. I just...wanted to be sure that was a possibility before we had sex. But now I've put it off so long that I've freaked myself out even more. Like the longer we wait, the more mind-blowing it's supposed to be or something," he laughs faintly, glancing at her.

She licks her lips, knitting her brow together in consternation. "Peeta. I hope you know that's not...that's not why I texted you that night."

He raises his eyebrows as he looks over at her. "You didn't. Your friend did."

She rolls her eyes, smiling faintly. "Well. Maybe that's why Johanna texted you. But that's not why I talked to you that night. With any sort of expectations of sex or something like that. I just...wanted to talk to you, finally." She shrugs shyly. "Admittedly...I did start to get a little jealous of the women you've slept with. I felt like I was missing out, I guess."

"You really should lower your expectations," he jokes self-deprecatingly, then his face sobers, and he reaches across the bed to delicately wrap his hand around hers. "I should have just told you this sooner. I'm really sorry about last night."

She curls her fingers around his, scratching her thumbnail along the cuticle of his thumb. "Well. Now we can start fresh. Leave the expectations behind. And...it'll happen when it happens," she shrugs, and he squeezes her hand to make her look up at him.

"It's going to happen," he swears, and he glances at the clock, his face creasing with defeat. "I gotta open the bakery soon." Unfortunately, it's the one Sunday of the month that he opens the bakery instead of having one of his employees do it.

She nods. "Can you drive me back home before you do?"

Peeta stands up from the bed slowly, like he's afraid of aggravating his hangover, then he turns to face her. "Yeah, let me just shower real quick, see if that doesn't help. I don't want to reek of booze at work," he says sheepishly, and she lies back down to close her eyes for a little while longer while he showers, to ruminate on his confession.

Two coffees in hand, Katniss pushes the door of the coffee shop open with her hip and slips outside onto the sidewalk. While one cup is her usual—half almond milk, two sugars—the other is straight black, exactly how Peeta likes to drink it. Figuring he could use a pick-me-up as he struggles through his hangover at work, she heads to the bakery now to intercept him after lunch time, when the lunch crowd at the bakery will have dispersed for the usual mid-afternoon lull.

As she walks down the sidewalk, she thinks about her conversation with Peeta this morning. She still finds it inconceivable that he's liked her all this time. Since he was 4 years old.

"Girl of his dreams," he called her. It's a sweet, flattering sentiment, and she even feels a little giddy at the thought, but at the same time, it's daunting. It fills her with a sense of foreboding.

He's worried he won't live up to her expectations? How is she supposed to live up to his? If he's fantasized this long about having sex with her...he's gotta have some expectations of his own. And nobody's exactly recommending her sexual expertise in bathrooms around town, so she's probably got more to worry about than he does.

"Ugh," she mutters to herself, shaking her head as if she can dislodge the thought, and takes a sip of her coffee; the hot liquid scalds her tongue, but she ignores it. She's trying not to obsess. After their discussion this morning, the progress they made, it would probably be ironic, and cosmically shitty, if she were to become the gun-shy one in the bedroom now.

It's really not that hard for a woman to be good in bed, anyway. Right?

She tries to reassure herself with this thought.

Reaching Peeta's bakery, Katniss peers into the large store-front windows as she passes by them on her way to the door. But she stops suddenly, her eyes narrowing at the sight of Peeta embracing a blonde woman. Confused, she takes a step back so she's not in view but can still see them.

He's smiling and laughing, releasing the woman. Katniss can only see the back of her head, her short bob bouncing as she talks and gestures animatedly to Peeta, who watches her with an amused, tender expression Katniss can't decipher.

Jealousy sprouts in her chest, shooting roots into the pit of her stomach, and she clutches the two coffees to her bosom as she continues to spy on them. A hundred different scenarios flit through her mind, about who the woman is, what they're doing, what Peeta's hiding, and her teeth start to grind together in anger when, abruptly, the woman turns to a stroller and hefts a baby out, delicately handing the squirming mass of pudgy limbs and wispy blond hair over to Peeta.

What the hell?

Baffled, Katniss crosses the few strides to the front door and somehow manages to fling it open despite the coffees in her hands.

Peeta's head jerks up at the commotion, the baby cradled against his chest, and his eyebrows shoot up at the sight of her. "Katniss!"

She stops abruptly in her tracks, parsing his reaction. He's not scared or concerned. He's surprised but smiling, like he's genuinely happy to see her.


That's when Katniss gets a look at the blonde woman, who whips around to face her.

Delly Cartwright.

Oh my god, of course, Katniss screams at herself, almost doubling over in relief.

"Oh my god!" Delly echoes her thoughts, her head snapping back and forth between the two of them. "Katniss, from high school? I didn't know—wait, are you two dating?"

Peeta laughs nervously, bouncing the baby in his arms before bending over to place it back in the stroller. "Uh, yeah, Dell, we are," he replies, arching an eyebrow at Katniss. Unsure what to do, she shuffles toward him haltingly. She's still trying to process the situation, and when she stops at Peeta's side, she looks over at Delly, who looks laughably shocked. Peeta grabs Katniss' attention, and she glances back at him. "Hey, I wasn't expecting you to stop by," he says, and she shoves his cup of coffee at him.

"I thought I'd see how you were feeling, bring you some caffeine to see if it would help," she mumbles, and he accepts it from her, leaning forward to kiss her cheek.

"Thank you," he starts, but a weird squeak startles them, and they both look over at Delly, who's completely slack-jawed.

"Oh my god—Peeta! I can't believe you didn't tell me about this!" she accuses shrilly, one hand darting out to smack his arm before planting on her hip. "When did this happen?!"

He makes a face as he looks at Katniss, almost apologetically, and rubs his arm where Delly smacked him. "I guess it's been a month and a half now? Almost two months. I'm sorry I didn't tell you, Dell, I guess I just kinda got swept up in it..." He smiles sweetly at Katniss, who ducks her head, taking a sip of her coffee to hide her embarrassment.

"Oh, I guess it's my fault," Delly sighs dramatically. "I've been so busy, I haven't even tried to call you or see you until now—"

"Dell, you just had a baby a few months ago," he interjects, and Katniss' eyes drop to the bundle of blond hair and bright blue eyes and plump cheeks wriggling in the stroller. She then sees the diamond ring on Delly's hand when she reaches out to rock the stroller.

Maybe it's not Cartwright anymore, after all.

"I'm glad you stopped by," Peeta continues. "I'm sorry I haven't come to see you and Jordan since the birth—"

She waves him off, stopping him. "Stop, it's fine, it's fine! I've been pretty oblivious to everyone lately, but I can't believe I missed out on this!" Katniss lifts her eyebrows curiously when Delly gestures between the two of them wildly. "It's Katniss, Peeta! You had the biggest crush on her in school!"

Katniss blushes almost as hard as Peeta does, and she locks eyes with him. He grimaces at her humorously. "Glad I told you about that before Delly could, I guess."

"Oh, sorry!" Delly looks horrified, but she giggles. "It's true, though. He was so moony over you back then. I kept trying to convince him to just talk to you, but he was too scared."

Katniss bites down on her lip, and she shoves her free hand into her coat pocket, her other hand cradling the coffee cup to her stomach. "Yeah, the feeling was kind of mutual. I, um, had a bit of a crush on him too."

Delly's eyes go round. "Are you serious? How perfect! This is like a movie or something! So how did this happen? How did you two meet up again?"

Peeta and Katniss share another look, and she lifts her eyebrows in question. Shaking his head, he chuckles and gives a small shrug of his shoulders. "Yeah, go ahead and tell her. Might as well."

Katniss shifts her eyes back to Delly, smiling. "Well, actually...I saw his name and phone number written on a bathroom stall advertising the best sex of your life, and my friend thought it would be hilarious to text him from my phone," she laughs awkwardly. "He came down to the bar all pissed off, but we talked and..." She lifts her shoulders in a shrug there, throwing a soft smile at Peeta, but when she glances back at Delly, she's confused to see her look of horror.

"Oh my god," she squeaks, covering her mouth. Katniss' brow knots together.


Delly's cheeks bloom red, and her eyes dart between the two of them. "Oh my god, Peeta—I'm so sorry."

Peeta looks baffled. "Why? What are you talking about?"

She drops her hand from her mouth and reaches out toward him. "Okay, okay—don't be mad at me—it obviously worked out well for you—"

"Delly, what?" he stresses impatiently.

Her mouth stretches in a grimace. "Well...I was the one who wrote your name in the bathroom. At The Hob, right?"

Peeta's face blanches, and Katniss just purses her lips together uncertainly, glancing between them. This should be interesting. "Delly, what? Why would you do that?!" he hisses, struggling to keep his voice from rising.

She presses her hands to her cheeks before waving them wildly. "I don't know! I was a little drunk—it had been my first night out since having Jordan, I forgot how crazy Manhattans make me! But I just got to thinking about you, and you hadn't been on a date in so long, and I just thought you deserved a little attention, Peeta! You work so hard!"

"And you thought having random women call me for sex was the best way to get me attention?" he asks, his voice tight.

"Well, it worked, didn't it?" Delly huffs, and Katniss frowns.

"Hey, I didn't call him for sex," she interjects, offended, and Delly looks at her apologetically.

"Sorry, I just meant—Peeta's so work-oriented and selfless, I just thought, if he didn't have the time to date, he could at least, you know...get laid," she explains sheepishly, and he groans loudly, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I told you I was drunk! I realized it was stupid the next day, and I was going to go back to the bar to see if I could wash it off or something, but by the time I could get back there, it had already been erased. So I figured, hey, no harm done! And look, something good came out of it! You two are dating! So, really, you should be throwing me a parade."

Peeta's gaze cuts to her sharply. "Don't push it, Dell." She pouts, and he sighs, his face softening. "Okay. You're right. No harm done. And you did unwittingly set me up with this amazing woman," he says, reaching his hand out to slide around Katniss' hip, and she smiles shyly at him. "So...yeah. I guess I should thank you."

Delly squeals quietly, clapping her hands together, which ends up startling her baby. "Oh god, okay," she sighs, frazzled, rocking the stroller to calm Jordan down when he starts to cry. "Well, I gotta get going, it's time to feed him. I just wanted to stop in and see you."

Peeta lets go of Katniss, grabbing a brown paper bag off the counter to hand to her. "And to pick up some beignets."

"The best beignets in Panem," Delly quips, and Peeta smiles, shaking his head.

"The only beignets in Panem."

"Still." She embraces Peeta, hugging him tightly. "Oh, I'm so happy for you, Peeta." When she steps back, she turns to Katniss and pulls her into a hug too. "And you! It was so good to see you again." Katniss returns the hug, even though she barely knows the woman, because she really is grateful for her meddling. "You've got yourself a good one," Delly whispers in her ear, pulling back with a wink.

Katniss smiles at her. "I know," she agrees, looking over at Peeta. He mirrors her smile.

"Well, don't be a stranger, Peeta, and you too, Katniss. Oh! We should have a double date sometime with the three of us and Andrew. I'll call you to set it up, I promise," Delly says excitedly, and Peeta hugs her one more time with the promise to talk to her soon, letting Jordan grab his finger and kissing his tiny hand before Delly pushes the stroller out the bakery door.

Katniss chews on the lid on her coffee cup as Peeta turns back to face her and scrubs a hand through his hair. "Well," he exhales roughly, and she laughs faintly. She wonders if her relief is as palpable as his is.

"Well," she echoes, and he shakes his head.

"It was Delly," he says, like he can't quite believe it. "I've never had sex with her, by the way. Just in case you were wondering. So you definitely shouldn't put any stock in her opinion."

Katniss smiles. "Maybe you should send her a thank you card," she suggests before sipping her coffee, and he laughs.

"Maybe," he says, taking a long swig of his own coffee then licking his lips. "Man. I don't know what to say. Actually...I'm kind of relieved."

She stares at him thoughtfully as she considers this and nods slowly. "It kind of takes the pressure off of...everything," she says cautiously, and that makes him go silent as he thinks about it too, his eyes fixed on her. After a moment, he speaks.

"It does, doesn't it?" he agrees, his voice low and firm. The intensity in his stare thickens as they hold each other's gaze, and then he takes a step closer. "Katniss—"

The bell chimes suddenly as a customer walks into the bakery, and her shoulders jump, her body tensing. Peeta suddenly looks agitated, too, even as he greets the other woman politely. He looks back to Katniss. "Are you gonna hang around for a moment?" he asks her, and she nods resolutely.

"Yeah, I'll stay," she breathes out.

With his own nod, Peeta circles around the counter to assist the customer, and Katniss nervously gulps down the rest of her coffee, cringing as it burns through her chest. That's going to come back as indigestion later. Once it's emptied, she tosses the cup in a trashcan and paces the shop anxiously, pretending to check out all the pastries in the display cases while Peeta converses with the customer and pulls out all her selected treats to wrap and bag.

Katniss isn't even aware the customer has left until she hears the bell chime, startling her. She spins around to find Peeta still on the other side of the register, his hands braced against the counter. He's staring at her so intently, the blue irises stealing her breath like ice cold water on her skin.

A beat later, he moves, stalking toward her. She can't even breathe until he's in front of her, a few agonizing inches away from her. His chest expands with his hard, deep breath, and he licks his lips, and still they don't speak for another moment, when Peeta's eyes cut to the front of the store. He runs a hand through his curls.

"I can flip the sign. Close the bakery. At least until Rue gets back from her lunch break, which is—" he pulls his phone out of his back pocket to check the time, "—30 minutes from now."

"Okay," she chokes out. He could ask her to strip naked and pose in front of the windows right now, and she'd probably do it. There's an unexpected and inexplicable ferocity to him in this moment, a fire behind his eyes like one of his ovens in the back, and she's eager to let the flames consume her, finally.

But they're still staring at each other, both perched like a prey ready to flee, or a predator ready to pounce, and then finally Peeta sucks in a sharp breath, his body jerking toward the front door as if pulled by strings. "Okay," he barks, and she startles, darting behind the counter. She hears the clunk of the dead bolt locking, the slap of plastic against the plexiglass as he hastily flips the sign, and she disappears into the backroom. Trays and shelves of dough and uncooked pastries line the walls like carefully arranged obstacles surrounding the many ovens and refrigerators.

She shrugs off her coat, whirling around when she hears Peeta's heavy footsteps behind her. He kicks at the door stopper wedged under the door, letting it swing shut, and then he's on her before her coat even hits the ground, dragging his lips and tongue across hers. He swallows her moan, and she nearly trips over her jacket as he pushes her backward, roughly pressing her against a stack of large flour bags. It's chest level, so he wrenches his mouth away from hers briefly to heave a few bags onto the floor. One splits at the seam, dusting the floor in flour, but he just hoists her onto the stack and captures her mouth in another bruising kiss.

She can barely keep up with him, so she just lets him take over, touching every crevice of her mouth that he can, in a way familiar to her now—but he's never been quite this demanding before, quite this needy. She fists his apron in her hands to pull him closer, needing to feel the strong, firm lines and planes of his body against hers, and she opens her legs to him, her hips a cradle for his. But it's not close enough.

Peeta seems to sense this too, because he abruptly breaks the kiss and begins tugging at her shirt. Their breaths are hot and sticky between the two of them, the air made steamy with their pants and the heat of the ovens, as they paw at each other's clothes. They get his apron off, whipping it halfway across the room, and she unfastens her pants. Her boots fall to the floor with two successive thumps, and she lifts her hips up so he can reach behind her and rip her jeans down her hips and off her legs. The denim catches on her left foot and hangs there, her panties too, and he jerks her to the edge of the flour bag.

The silence is thick and tenuous, disturbed only by his heavy breathing as he yanks his pants button apart and rips the fly down one-handed. Katniss pulls his thin cotton shirt up, just so she can feel the heat of his bare skin on her palms, and he reaches underneath the waistband of his boxer-briefs to pull his stiff cock out. The tip is pink and leaking with pearly precum, the shaft engorged, and she stretches the fabric of his shirt desperately, letting out a low groan, like he's already inside her.

She tries to pull him closer, to feel him against her, and he cups her ass to oblige, but his hand pushes on her inner thigh suddenly to stop her, his fingers digging into her flesh. "I don't—I don't have a condom here," he grits out, his eyes squeezing shut like it pains him, and she frantically tries to remember if she put a condom in her purse at any point. But his hand moves to her center, his fingers gliding up her folds, through the slickness budding there, and she arches toward him with a gasp. "We can just..." He doesn't finish his thought, dipping two fingers inside her to pump in and out, the tip of his thumb rubbing her clit.

Her head falls back out of habit as she revels in the sensation, but it's not enough. She needs something more now. Something bigger, harder. She tips her chin back down to look at him, unable to stop undulating her hips to meet the rhythm of his fingers moving in and out of her, but his fingers eventually stop when he looks up at her. "We can just do it," she blurts. They had the requisite discussion about birth control and STDs a couple weeks ago, so he knows she's on the pill, and they've both established they're clean.

His eyes go wide, but he nods eagerly. "Okay—I mean, you're sure?" he asks, and the desperation she can hear in his voice is as raw as her own.

She nods, her head bobbing up and down frantically. "I need it," she pleads, and he hurriedly pulls his fingers out of her so he can grab his cock and position it at her entrance. She angles her hips toward the edge of the sack, inhaling sharply when his tip catches the hood of her clit, and then he's pushing into her, jerking her hips closer so he can sink into her completely. Her mouth stretches with a silent gasp, just as her walls stretch around the girth and length of him, and he groans wetly against her neck, panting.

He's thick, hard, uncomfortable, wonderful.

"Oh my god," he whimpers, echoing the words stuck in her throat. He starts moving then, thrusting shallowly and carefully until she's adjusted and relaxed around him, and she holds onto his shoulders, her hands curling into fists around the neckline of his shirt.

Then he's moving hard and fast, fucking her just like she needs, like they both need. Each push inside her rips a moan from her lips, and he buries his face in the hollow of her neck, one hand wrapped around her thigh to yank her hips against his as he pounds into her, the other hand snaking underneath the collar of her shirt and bra to squeeze her breast roughly. The tops of his thighs hit the sacks of flour with each thrust, rapid thumps punctuating his grunts and her cries.

"Fuck—oh fuck, Katniss," he suddenly gasps, his teeth bearing down on her collarbone, his next declaration, "I'm coming," muffled against her flesh, and he jerks into her a couple times before going still and burying himself inside her.

"Oh," she squeaks, her chest heaving as she goes rigid against him, her eyes snapping open wide. She feels his cock pulsing inside her, fluttering against her walls as he rides out his orgasm, and she blinks incredulously.

That was...fast.

Neither of them move for a moment, though she can feel the tenseness of his muscles too, and finally he steps back just slightly to let his cock slide out of her. She glances at him, catching the grimace on his face, and he tucks himself back into his underwear. "Fuck, sorry," he coughs out sheepishly, and she snaps her thighs shut when she feels his cum beginning to seep out of her due to the angle of her hips. She uncurls her fingers from his shirt to release him, grabbing the bag underneath her to balance herself now that his body isn't propping her up, and he roughly runs a hand through his damp curls. "I'm sorry," he repeats. "That did not go quite how I wanted it to."

She tries to mask the wince on her own face, pursing her lips. "It's okay," she whispers, a little dazed. "Um, guess it was kind of supposed to be rushed. We're in a bakery."

He smiles, though it's humorless, and he slides a palm over her thigh. "Let me get you off," he says, and her thighs start to fall open with the responding throbbing in her clit, reminding her of her forgotten orgasm, but then she shakes her head, suddenly very aware of where they are. The moment's over.

"No, it's okay," she protests, ignoring the almost painful ache between her thighs. Peeta looks confused, and she smiles at him, cringing from embarrassment. "Your, um, Rue will be back any minute, right? We should clean up."

"Katniss," he starts uncertainly, and she squeezes his hand on her thigh to reassure him.

"It's fine. We can just...try again later."

He still looks a little wounded, but he eventually nods and takes another step back. "Okay," he agrees quietly, and they start straightening up, putting their clothes back in place. He helps her down from the stack of flour, and she grabs a broom while he tosses the bags he knocked over back onto the pile. But he takes the broom from her. "I got it, it's fine. You don't have to stay."

She stares at him, his clothes and apron still slightly tousled, his cheeks flushed pink, his eyes glassy and cloudy, his curls unruly and damp with perspiration. She's sure she looks equally disheveled. Impulsively, she leans forward and kisses him, just a soft press of her lips to his. When she pulls back, she locks eyes with him.

"I'll see you later," she promises, stopping down to grab her coat, and he nods sadly and murmurs a goodbye as she leaves.

Katniss jogs up the front steps to Peeta's house, her feet swift and purposeful. She's supposed to have dinner with him tonight; he texted her late afternoon, a couple hours after she left his bakery, to apologize again for what happened: That's really not how I wanted our first time to go. You deserve better.

She felt bad that he was carrying all the blame on his shoulders. He hasn't had sex in a couple years, and neither has she. She was too impatient and embarrassingly horny; she shouldn't have pushed, should have taken the lack of condom as a sign, but he was finally there, finally on the same page with her, that she'd almost been afraid of losing their place together, the moment slipping through her fingers. It was dumb, but then again she's always been impulsive and reactionary. It'd just been such a relief realizing that all along it was Delly who'd written his name in that bathroom—as a joke, or a drunk, misguided wingman attempt—all the pressure drained out of the act, leaving in its place nothing but instinct and an insufferable want.

She fretted all afternoon about their first time in the bakery, actually starting to wonder if, maybe, there was a slight possibility that they aren't sexually compatible, that the chemistry isn't there. And then she realized how ridiculous she was being. That chemistry's there, was there, however briefly, the second he filled her, up until the moment he came. He just...finished too quickly. And really, that seemed more of a testament to how excited he was to fuck her, how good she made him feel.

So why was she being so stupid about it?

She's going to fix this—right now, as she doesn't even bother knocking on his door. Her senses are immediately assaulted with the aroma of garlic, and she tracks him down to the kitchen. He startles slightly when he looks up to find her standing in the doorway. "Oh, hey, I didn't hear you knock," he starts. "I'm making some chicken—"

"Peeta, I don't want to eat right now," she states bluntly. "I want you to fuck me."

He stares at her mutely, his eyes round, then he silently turns toward the stove and flips the burner off, moving the pan off the heat. "Okay," he replies, facing her.

She tucks her hair behind her ear, anxiously. "Is that too aggressive? I just feel like—we've got the awkward first-time sex part out of the way, and I just want to get to the good stuff. Right now," she explains.

"Okay," he says again—solemnly, even. "I agree. I would like nothing more, as well."

"Okay," she exhales, relieved. But they just stand there, sizing each other up, and he finally chuckles.

"This got awkward again."

She smiles. "Well, I only rehearsed up to this point," she laughs, exasperated. "It's your turn. I'm not really good at this."

"I don't know, you seemed pretty good at it this afternoon," he challenges, an amused glint in his blue eyes, and she's glad for this, glad they can so easily find the easy, natural rapport they normally have. But Peeta doesn't leave her hanging, closing the distance between them and smoothing his hand through her hair before tipping her chin up to kiss her. It's sweeter, less hurried and frantic than the ones shared in his bakery earlier, and Katniss runs her hands up his chest to wind around his neck, pushing up on her toes to taste him more eagerly.

His hands trace the curves of her back and hips before settling on her ass; she's not prepared for him to scoop her up as effortlessly as he does a sack of flour, and she hooks her legs around his waist as he secures his right arm under her thighs to hold her in place. Her face is angled above his now, and she sweeps her tongue into his mouth with renewed excitement when he carries her out of the kitchen.

But he pauses in the living room, breaking the kiss to laugh. "How do people do this in the movies? I can't see where the fuck I'm walking."

She snorts and dips her head to the left of his so he can see around her, using the opportunity to stipple kisses along his cheekbone and jaw. Her fingers thread through his hair, pulling at the roots of his curls, and she feels his hot, quick breath skirt across her bare neck, its own form of a kiss. It makes her shudder, and she busies herself with sucking on his skin until they're in his room. He shuts the door with his foot and sets her down on his bed. She stretches out flat on her back, and he climbs over her to follow, chasing her lips until he can capture them in another kiss.

This one is more urgent, needy, and she tries to pull his weight down on top of her, but he pushes up on his hands, reaching back over his shoulders to peel his sweater and undershirt off. She grabs greedily for his bare chest, her fingertips skimming his pecs, but he wraps his hands around her wrists and pins them to the bed on either side of her head. She lifts her eyebrows curiously, and he just trails chaste kisses down her torso over her clothes, down between her breasts and across her stomach. There, he nudges her shirt up with his nose so he can skim his tongue over her bare belly. Her abdomen clenches reflexively with a quiet gasp as he trails his tongue up, pushing the shirt to her breasts. Finally, he releases her hands so he can pull her shirt off entirely, and she lifts her shoulders and arms up to help him whip it over her head. She raises up on her elbows to hold onto his neck while he reaches around her back to unhook her bra, biting at his lips, then he throws the offending garment aside once it's untangled from her limbs.

Peeta pushes her back down into the mattress, her head sinking into the pillow, and she inhales against his mouth, sucking in the breath he exhales when he palms her breast. She arches into his hand, his large, warm palm, and he rubs his thumb back and forth over her nipple, which has pulled into a stiff peak.

She's almost upset when he stops their kiss, but then his mouth is wrapped around her other breast, his tongue licking her already tight nipple into an even more hardened point. "Oh my god," she groans, weaving her fingers through his hair to cup his head, to hold him there, to spur him on. His teeth catch on the pebbled bud, dragging across it, and his hand firmly kneads her other breast.

He's got her unbearably wet now, the insistent tingling in her clit uncomfortable. She needs relief. "Peeta," she sighs—whines, really—bending her knees to the ceiling to couch his body between her legs, and she presses up against his erection, seeking the pressure and friction she needs.

But his hand splays across her tummy, forcing her down to the mattress. He sits back on his heels, and she whimpers, pathetic and disappointed, until he mercifully unfastens her pants and makes quick work of them, throwing them and her flats off the bed. He's got her down to her panties now, and as he's sliding them down her hips and thighs, she's suddenly conscious of the moment, knowing this is the first time he's seeing her fully naked. She fights the shyness when he lets her feet drop back down to the bed, the soaked panties landing beside them, and he pushes her knees apart. She holds her breath, watching his face as he takes her in. She knows she's swollen and sticky and wet, but his eyes sweep up and down her appreciatively, and his nostrils flare with a deep inhale.

"Fuck," is all he says, but his tone speaks to so much more: awe and hunger and barely restrained need.

She's surprised when he scoots back farther on the bed so he can hunch over between her legs, his face only inches from her core. "Oh," she chokes out, fisting the covers around her. "Okay, you're gonna do that."

His eyes lift to meet hers, somehow bright and dark all at once. "Yeah, if you're okay with it," he hedges, pressing a kiss to her pubic bone, the action mirroring what he did just the night before.

She takes a deep breath and nods eagerly, her tongue sliding out to wet her bottom lip repeatedly. She aches even more now. "Yes, yes, absolutely," she says, her voice breathy and tight. She's not sure, but she thinks she hears a low chuckle rumble in the back of his throat, but the sound is lost the second he lowers his mouth to her pussy. His tongue slides up her folds, over her entrance, up to her clit, and she gasps sharply, her body bowing to follow the path. But he pushes her back down to the bed to anchor her there, and then he is absolutely devouring her. His tongue is everywhere, between her folds, inside her, around her clit, and her hands shoot out to grab at his hair, rooting there as she desperately tries to hold on.

"Oh fuck!" she keens, her hips rocking wildly against his face as he plunges his tongue into her, over and over. His thumb pulls up on her clitoris, opening her to him more, and he licks up to the swollen nub, flicking his tongue over it in quick, focused strokes—up and down, side to side, like he's testing what makes her scream the loudest. He finds it when he sucks her clit between his lips, and she's already writhing when he pushes two fingers inside her, fucking her slowly, pushing up against her vaginal wall. The pressure is too much, and she comes so abruptly and swiftly, her whole body bearing down around his mouth and fingers. She cries out, lurching off the bed and curling around him as her orgasm contorts and spasms her body, like she just needs to hold onto him or she's going to come unhinged.

"Oh my god," she finally gasps, slumping back to the bed with hard gulps of air, and Peeta laps at her, swallowing her arousal, the rough, slick pull of his tongue on her folds causing her to shudder and tremble with the waves of her ebbing orgasm still rippling through her. "Oh my god," she repeats, untangling her fingers from his hair to cover her face. Her skin is dewy and flushed, and she swipes the sweat from her forehead and upper lip. She thinks those are actually tears leaking from the corners of her eyes.

When he's done between her thighs, satisfied with his work, Peeta lifts himself onto his knees. She feels zapped, sated, can only muster the energy to watch him dumbly as he strips down to his boxer-briefs. And then those are gone, leaving him naked and wonderfully hard.

"You're big," she observes weakly because it's the only thing she can think to say, her body already tensing with the memory, the feeling of him inside her only hours ago. She didn't say it before in the bakery, with everything moving so quickly, and she wants him to know it, wants to voice her approval, to stoke his ego. He laughs slightly, just a snort of air through his nose, and he leans over her, bracing his hands on the mattress.

"You're wonderful," he counters, and she lifts her mouth to kiss him. His lips are slick with her, his tongue tangy and musky, and she pulls on his shoulders, wanting the weight of him on top of her, then inside of her, but he resists briefly to whisper, "I can get a condom, I have a box here."

She just kisses him again. "I don't want to," she murmurs against his mouth, in between swipes of his tongue. "I like the feel of just you."

He settles between her thighs, and his cock is there, pushing into her. She plants her heels into the bed to open herself, to ease his penetration, and she inhales through her teeth, her stomach tightening as her walls grip him, hugging him.

"God, Katniss," he groans, rocking his hips to sink into her deeper, their pelvises flush, and then he pulls back to thrust into her, again, again.

"Fuck," she moans, dipping her head back, and she raises her hips to his, meeting him thrust for thrust. He sighs into her neck, hard, damp breaths as he starts moving faster.

"Fuck, you're so tight, so amazing," he pants, and he sits up suddenly, clutching her shins to his chest so her thighs are pressed together, like a vise around his cock. He pushes into her deeper, harder, his hips colliding with her ass and the backs of her inner thighs, the sides of her calves. Her breasts bounce with the rhythm of his strokes, and she tucks her arms under the pillows, stretching out her body in a enticing, leisurely pose, just for his benefit. He groans at the sight, his hooded eyes darting between her tits and her face, like he can't decide which one he wants to watch more. "You're so fucking sexy, Katniss. Sometimes I think I could come just from looking at you."

"Not yet," she begs, closing her eyes. "Just a little longer, this feels so good."

"Not yet," he promises with a growl.

Her earlier orgasm has her impossibly wet still, and his cock moves in and out of her with such ease. Each time he pulls out, he pulls out to the head, before pushing his cock back into her, all the way to the hilt. He bucks into her harder, faster, and the sound of their skin slapping together, his cock sliding through her wetness, just turns her on more. She moans each time he fills her, little gasps of approval and pleasure, like he's forcing the sounds out of her with the force of his thrusts. He releases her thighs and spreads them open, lifting up on his knees just slightly to fuck her more forcefully.

"Oh my god," she hiccups, digging her heels into the mattress to lift her ass up higher, changing the angle of his cock inside her. He grunts in response, watching his cock disappear inside her pussy, over and over. The head of his cock is rubbing against her wall, the ridges stimulating the sensitive area just right, and she tenses when she feels the flutter of her walls again, the telltale throbbing in her clit. "Oh fuck," she sobs right as another orgasm crashes through her.

"Fuck, you're coming again," he gasps, like he's surprised, grabbing her hip with one hand and using the other to rub her clit fiercely, which sends her spiraling even harder. He uses the leverage to pound his cock into her faster and then he's coming undone too, sinking into her as he comes with a rough groan. He holds her hips off the bed, easing in and out of her shallowly while he fills her up with his cum, and she closes her eyes to bask in the delicious swell of her climax. "God, I wasn't ready for you to come on my dick like that, I didn't mean to finish then," he sighs ruefully after a moment.

It takes her a moment to catch her breath, to formulate a response. "I wasn't expecting that," she whispers honestly. Her tongue feels heavy in her mouth, and he pulls out of her so he can lower her to the bed. She laughs airily, feeling delirious. "I've never come like that before."

He wipes a hand over his mouth as he cleans off the remnants of her first orgasm and his sweat. His eyes shine proudly. "Really?" he asks, licking his lips as he eases down onto the bed beside her, and she nods, still staring at the ceiling, feeling dazed.

"Yeah," she sighs, closing her eyes blissfully. They're quiet for a moment, just the sounds of their breaths filling the room as they come down from their highs. Finally, Katniss laughs again. "You know what, even if she didn't know it, Delly was right. Best sex of my life."

Peeta chuckles, his voice low and throaty but light. "Yeah? You planning on putting that on a bathroom stall?" His tone is teasing, lilting, and she smiles widely before forcing her mouth into a line, and she opens her eyes to consider him. She rolls over and props herself up on her elbow, pursing her lips thoughtfully. Then, she answers.

"No," she replies nonchalantly, and his eyebrows quirk. She smiles at him then, hooking her leg over his waist so she can straddle his hips. His hands settle on her thighs, and she braces her hands on his chest, lowering her mouth closer to his. But before she kisses him, she promises, "I'm keeping you all to myself, Peeta Mellark."

Find me on tumblr at muttpeeta. I changed my name again, I'm sorry (last time though, I'm pretty sure!).