Haymitch saved Katniss, but left Peeta behind to the capitol. He was slaughtered, and now they must learn to deal with their loss.
She stomps her way into the house, slamming the heavy door behind her. Haymitch had long since stopped locking his entrance, and she didn't feel the need to knock. There weren't many people in District 13 who would wish him harm, and besides, he'd likely welcome it. Shaking snow out of her hair, she strolls down the filthy hallway, past bags of trash and old food, and goes into the kitchen.
Haymitch is sprawled across the tile floor, his tangled head laying on an old cardboard box, crushed flat. His face is red and an empty bottle lies beside him, and though he appears unconscious, he lifts his head when Katniss walks in.
"Back again, sweetheart?" He asks blearily, hauling his drunken form into a sitting position. She glares weakly at him and but otherwise doesn't comment as she walks over to the counter. Of course I'm back, you idiot, she thinks. Where else would I go? She digs through a pile of empty liquor bottles until she finds one, half full, and flops down on the floor with a sigh.
"No 'hello Haymitch, thank you for the wine?'" Haymitch responds. She smiles a little as she rips the cap off the bottle and takes a deep gulp, wincing hard at the taste. The liqour is bitter and crudely made but it does it's job well, blocking memories of screaming children and a beautiful, loving young man from her mind.
"That's the spirit." Haymitch's house smells like rotting food and long-forgotten garbage. But it's more like home now than her own. Her own, where her sister and mom hover around her, nervous of her next breakdown. Home, where her family tries to comfort and coddle her, but it only causes her so much more pain. Where Gale holds Madge and tries not to look at her. District thirteen can never be a real home to her.
" I don't know how I lost it all at once." Katniss admits, nursing her bottle. She remembers the sunset, remembers Peeta walking away, and her eyes start to burn.
"I don't know if I'd call it 'all', honey." Haymitch says, as he begins another bottle of his own.
"Then what would you call it?" She snaps, but then regrets it. Haymitch doesn't mean her any harm. He never has, really.
"Your boyfriends." Or maybe he does, because that comment sparks a rage in her, and she stumbles to her feet. Liquor splashes on the floor and dampens Haymitch's outstretched feet.
" Damn you, Haymitch, what do you know of it!" She snarls. He blinks blandly up at her past glazed eyes.
"Quiet a lot, girl, we all lost Peeta," He retorts, feeling resentful. "And it's not like Gale is such a secret." The anger leaves her instantly, like the mad rage had never been there in the first place, and she slumps back to the floor. Of course Gale isn't a secret. He hardly tries to hide it, does he? As if he's happy that Katniss can finally watch him love someone else, finally be the one to sit on the sidelines and cry. She stares, broken hearted, at the dark room, with no windows or natural light or pictures of him, and is happy, for once, that Haymitch doesn't want to remember either.
"Gale wont even look at me." Katniss finally whispers, feeling the need to say something, tell someone.
"I know." He says quietly
So they sit in silence for a while, and before too long, with the alcohol in her system and memories of Rue and Peeta and Gale and all the champions who died takes it's toll and tears slide down her face, because she knows that it's her fault he's gone, her fault because she couldn't save him.
There's a faint sigh, and a russle of frabic as Haymitch stands and walks over to her, collapsing in a heap against the counter edge with her. He wraps an arm around her shoulders, and she finds herself drawn to his side. He doesn't say anything, but what can he say? And at least he doesn't try to comfort her or pity her, he just shares her pain in silence, and that's what she needs, why she comes every damn day. Like every other day she clings to him, as if he's the last person on the earth who knows her, and he doesn't ever push her away, just lets her cry against his chest in big, silent sobs that stain his ever filthier shirt.
"I'm sorry." He says finally, and she hears his unspoken words, as if he'd said them aloud. I'm sorry I chose to save you and not him. I'm sorry I lied.
They sit like that for what feels like forever, her pressed against his torso while he holds her, drinking from his bottle with his free hand. His fingers curl in her hair and he brushes stray strands off her forehead, combing through her locks in smooth, comforting motions. Slowly, her tears cease, but she doesn't move. Sniffling, she tries to bury herself closer, clinging to his chest, her finger nails digging into his collarbone, and he can't help but think that she's the only one who he'll let hold him like this. Katniss' underweight form is pinned against him, and her long, straggled black hair, fallen loose of it's once neat braid, lays across her face. Her breath is warm against his neck, and he leans his head against hers, reveling in the stolen sensation.
Finally, she releases him and sits back, rather embarrassed. He watches her as she reaches around and grabs her bottle, chugging in massive, numbing gulps of the amber liquid. When she sits it back down, he expects her to stand and leave, as is her pattern to do so. To leave after receiving the comfort she so reluctantly asks of him, and which he too willingly gives.
Instead, her eyes seek his out, and she looks at him in a rather critical way. Her gaze traces his long, battle-scarred arms, burning an invisible path down his flat abdomen, his greasey, dirty, Haymitch pants and socked feet. He raises his eyebrows, and is about give her a smart-ass remark when she appears to come to a conclusion and returns to his side. She kneels beside him and gives a small, nervous smile, before wedging herself back against him. He stiffens, because this is firm and deliberate and says so much more than every other night, when it's need that draws them together, not want, and he tries to process what to do in his hazy mind. She reaches out tentatively and loops her fingers through his, and he relaxes and gives the tiniest of squeezes, before resting his head back against the wood behind him. She snuggles closer, and is glad no one can see her, the mockingjay, star of the rebellion, puffy-eyed and weak. She nudges his head aside and presses her face against his neck and is very soon taken into a restful sleep.
Haymitch stays awake for awhile. He pulls her closer, sitting his bottle aside and wrapping both arms around her. Katniss whines softly in her sleep and tries to wiggle nearer to him. He smiles, and buries his face against her hair. They fall slowly to their sides and lay like that, her nestled in against his chest, his arms tight and comforting around her as he follows her into sleep.
It'll be many more hours before they awake like that, and then several more before they can convince themselves to move.