Thanks to all who reviewed the last chapter! Here is chapter thirteen!
"Katniss, Katniss, can you hear me?"
These are the first words that Peeta says to Katniss as she is waking up.
Since Katniss had stumbled back to the cave, bleeding profusely from her head wound, nothing of note had occurred in the arena. Every tribute had for the most part remained in their respective lair, excluding Cato. It goes without saying that ever since the feast, he had been hunting for Thresh, in order to seek retribution for Clove's death.
But the Gamemakers are not helping much with Cato's quest. They have induced a heavy thunderstorm, making it that much harder to find another tribute. With poor visibility and difficult travelling conditions, it's a safe bet that Cato won't locate Thresh for some time.
At the sound of Peeta's anxious voice, Katniss's eyes slowly open. As she visibly attempts to orientate herself with her surroundings, she sees the face of- "Peeta."
"Hey," Peeta says. As he says this, he cannot help but break out in a smile. "Good to see your eyes again."
Katniss blushes slightly at this slight flirtatious comment. Well, that reaction is certainly better than a lot of other possible ones…
"How long have I been out?" she asks.
"Not sure," Peeta replies. "I woke up yesterday evening and you were lying next to me in a very scary pool of blood." He winces slightly at the memory. "I think it's stopped finally, but I wouldn't sit up or anything."
As Katniss yet stubbornly attempts to sit up, Peeta presses a water bottle to her lips.
"You're better," Katniss notes.
"Much better. Whatever you shot into my arm did the trick," Peeta answers. "By this morning, almost all the swelling in my leg was gone."
I know one thing Katniss is surprised at, and I know for a fact that I am as well, is why Peeta is not angry at Katniss for sneaking off to the feast. Perhaps it's because she is in such a weakened state right now, and he cannot bring himself to scold her.
Katniss and Peeta then discuss trivial things, such as hunting and the cold. But my interest is caught when Peeta remarks, "I wonder what brought on this storm? I mean, who's the target?"
"Cato and Thresh," Katniss muses. Smart girl.
She continues, "Foxface will be in her den somewhere, and Clove…she cut me and then…"
I glance over at Vikus. He seems for the most part to have moved on from Clove's death.
I shudder a bit involuntarily. What kind of person do you have to be to be so unaffected by the passing of a living, breathing human being? Though I did not care much for Clove, I would not wish her dead under normal circumstances. In a perfect world, she and the other twenty-three tributes who started these Games would be at home, relaxing, not having to worry about being selected in a Reaping or having enough to eat.
But sadly, this is not a perfect world.
Back in the cave where my tributes are making their refuge, Peeta says, "I know Clove's dead. I saw it in the sky last night. Did you kill her?"
"No," Katniss replies in a stronger voice. It seems as though she is doing her best to move on from the feast. "Thresh broke her skull with a rock."
"Lucky he didn't catch you too," says Peeta.
Here Katniss pauses. "He did. But he let me go." Then Katniss recounts the entirety of the feast to Peeta, ending with Thresh repaying the debt he 'owed' to Katniss.
"He let you go because he didn't want to owe you anything?" Peeta naturally questions in disbelief.
"Yes," Katniss answers. "I don't expect you to understand it. You've always have enough. But if you'd lived in the Seam, I wouldn't have to explain."
Which would be why I don't quite understand either. In the Victor's Village, there is always enough to go around. Thrice over.
"And don't try. Obviously I'm too dim to get it," Peeta says in a tone laced with sarcasm.
"It's like the bread. How I never seem to get over owing you for that," Katniss attempts to explain.
"The bread? What?" Peeta wonders aloud. Putting it together, he continues, "From when we were kids? I think we can let that go. I mean, you just brought me back from the dead."
"But you didn't know me. We had never even spoken. Besides, it's the first gift that's always the hardest to pay back. I wouldn't even have been here to do it if you hadn't helped me then. Why did you, anyway?"
Hmm. It seems that the people of the poverty-stricken communities bind together in order to aid each other through times of trial. They perform small acts of kindness for each other, collecting in turn a favor to repay. Through this system, the people of the Seam and other such neighborhoods have discovered that together, they are stronger.
Well, this is one of the few things that the Districts possess which the Capitol lacks.
"Why? You know why," Peeta answers. "Haymitch said you would take a lot of convincing."
"Haymitch? What's he got to do with it?"
I can't help but shake my head in disbelief. Katniss has still not put it together. She still does not see what is right in front of her.
She still does not realize that Peeta's love for her is genuine. That for him, it's not an act, not a sham. It's the real thing.
A short while later, Katniss drops off to sleep. By now, I know the times when I afford myself a bit of rest. This would be one of the times that qualify.
This time, I awake of my own accord. No alert is required. For what seems like the first time in a long time, I shower, change into a fresh set of clothes, and even grab solid food to eat.
After my meal, I retrieve a bottle of whiskey from the pantry. I guess I'm not that ready to let old habits die.
With bottle in hand, I make my way back to my monitor, just in time to hear Katniss say defensively, "I did do the right thing."
Ah. They must finally be having it out about the feast.
"No! Just don't, Katniss!" Peeta's sudden intensity surprises even me. "Don't die for me. You won't be doing me any favors. All right?"
"Maybe I did it for myself, Peeta, did you ever think of that? Maybe you aren't the only one who…who worries about…what it would be like if…"
Katniss trails off. She can't form the words necessary to express…express what?
I know exactly what. Her burgeoning feelings for Peeta.
I can't exactly encourage her aloud, for fear of giving away the act. But in my mind, I am all but shouting at her to compose the words that would express the true depth of her feelings.
"If what, Katniss?" Peeta asks softly.
"That's exactly the kind of topic Haymitch told me to steer clear of," Katniss evades.
"I said no such thing!" I exclaim out loud. "What is wrong with you?" Needless to say, I also add a few choice swear words directed her way for dropping the ball at this particular moment. At least my fellow mentors have the good grace not to laugh at what must be an extremely comical display of frustration.
"Then I'll just have to fill in the blanks myself," Peeta smoothly replies. He leans in to Katniss, and an unseen force inexplicably draws their lips together for a perfect kiss.
Was that so hard, sweetheart?
I check the sponsor monitor. Apparently, it was not perfect enough to be able to send any aid towards my tributes.
It would so as though the shallow, physical affections are wearing off on the Capitol. Very soon, the conversation will have to move towards deeper, personal emotions.
But it takes until the following evening for any such thing to take place. With Katniss and Peeta having been very inactive all day, I can only assume that Katniss has listened to the pleas of her stomach. I know her well enough to know that she will do anything to survive. Even if that includes jumping into uncomfortable situations.
"Peeta," Katniss begins lightly. "You said at the interview you'd had a crush on me forever. When did forever start?"
"Oh, let's see," Peeta replies in an equally light tone. "I guess the first day of school. We were five. You had on a red plaid dress and your hair…it was two braids instead of one. My father pointed you out when we were waiting to line up."
"You father? Why?"
"He said, 'See that little girl? I wanted to marry her mother, but she ran off with a coal miner,'" Peeta explains.
"What? You're making that up!"
"No, true story," Peeta says. "And I said, "A coal miner? Why did she want a coal miner if she could've had you?' And he said, 'Because when he sings…even the birds stop to listen.'"
I mentally give Katniss a pat on the back. Once again, her intuition has come through. She has realized what is necessary.
And another part of me has to wonder, does she think it is necessary, essential to survive? Is it all business for her? Or does another reason motivate her to get to know Peeta better, a reason perhaps based upon true love?
A question that can only be answered later.
"That's true. They do. I mean, they did," Katniss says.
Peeta continues, "So that day, in music assembly, the teacher asked who knew the valley song. Your hand shot right up in the air. She stood you up on a stool and had you sing it for us. And I swear, every bird outside the windows fell silent."
"Oh, please," Katniss replies, laughing.
"No, it happened. And right when your song ended, I knew – just like your mother – I was a goner. Then for the next eleven years, I tried to work up the nerve to talk to you."
"Without success," Katniss playfully adds.
"Without success," Peeta acknowledges. "So in a way, my name being drawn in the reaping was a real piece of luck."
"You have a…remarkable memory," Katniss says, almost as if unsure of her own words.
"I remember everything about you," Peeta replies. In their position sitting huddled together, tangled up in the one sleeping bag, he tucks a stray hair behind Katniss's ear, a tender display of affection. "You're the one who wasn't paying attention."
"I am now," Katniss says.
"Well, I don't have much competition here," Peeta tells her.
I can see Katniss drawing away, bringing up the mental barriers again. But this time she just simply cannot do that.
"Say it! Say it!" I exclaim.
She does. "You don't have much competition anywhere."
And once again, their lips meet. Only this time, I finally have something to send them.
They jump apart at the sound of the parachute touching down outside their cave. Peeta looks outside, sees the basket, and cheers. He brings back the food to Katniss, to see what I have sent them. Quite simply, the basket contains a feast.
But that feast has depleted all of my resources. From here on out, Katniss and Peeta are on their own.
"I guess Haymitch finally got tired of watching us starve," Peeta remarks as he looks over the contents of the parachute.
"I guess so," Katniss replies with a slight, knowing smile.
And as if to commend her for her efforts, I can't help but to mutter to myself, "Yes, that's what I'm looking for, sweetheart."
So, I thought that I would get alot farther with this chapter than I did. There is still alot of major material to cover, so I'm thinking now three more chapters for this story. An update of The Hunger Games Premiere is coming tomorrow, please check that out!
And as always, please review if you are reading this! Your opinions really do mean alot to me!