Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.
A/N- I'm in the process of editing each chapter, so this is the first revamp.
I wouldn't call it a lack of communication, really. It was only a lack of words. Neither of us really spoke after the nightmares passed.
Tonight would be no exception.
It is the same as usual. Thrashing, screaming, sweat and tears dampening the pillow. When I finally gasp back to consciousness, I'm surprised. Finding no bright sun or long Capitol streets. No bows and arrows in my hands. No little parachutes or children. Just a black room filled with shadows and the stirring of my bed sheets.
Peeta slowly touches my arm, as if he needs my permission to comfort me. I think it's a given- it has been ever since he started sleeping in this bed.
I realize my breathing must be out of control because my heart palpitates and I'm shaking like I haven't eaten in hours. I look beside me, where Peeta is sitting up and opening his arms. We look at each other as I heave a sigh of frustration. His arms squeeze as if to say, "I know."
He does know. His nightmares are worse than mine, even. At least my thoughts and memories are coherent- a full length mirror that I can look into and see the horror staring back at me. His is in shards, shattered and scattered around his feet, glass cutting him. He manages to piece it together, somehow. He manages to stay calm and with me most days, but there are times when he loses it. There are times when I lose it, too.
His arms warm me up and cool me down at the same time as I fix my eyes on the window beside the bed. I can see the top of Peeta's house under very faint moonlight. It's not really his house, though. It hasn't been since that morning he planted those primroses in my garden. He's hardly been there in months. A part of me wants to say that this is his home now. With me…in my house, in my bed, but it seems too quick of me to make that assumption.
And I think of how peculiar it is that he's here still. After all that transpired, I hadn't expected to him to stay in District 12, let alone stay in my room with me.
I'm all he has left.
It's something he said to keep me alive during the games, but I know it's true now. 12 has been salvaged and so have we. Now this place is filled with ruins neither of us want to acknowledge. It's filled with memories. Our families, more or less, are non existent, our friends scattered amongst the new regime. So really, unless we wanted to be cooped up with a smelly, passed out, alcoholic man- we're stuck with each other.
I don't mind. Peeta is something I seem to look forward to. Waking up in the morning is better when I no longer have to face an empty house. I can't ignore him while he's here. And at least he can subdue the nightmares. As he softly strokes my arms and I nestle in deeper, I think how out souls have practically been ripped out and thrown at each other. In the Games, in the Capitol. After that, how could I not stay with him?
He speaks, finally. He always is the one to break the silence.
I've calmed down, the memories of the dream are foggy and distant.
Then Peeta buries his lips into my hair and kisses the top of my head. Sometimes, he'll show this sort of affection. Sometimes, I return it. It's a temperamental situation. I kissed him last week, when he baked my favorite bread and had rested his hand accidentally on my waist while I tasted it. But the next time he tried it, I slipped away from as quickly as I could.
I'm worried that I'm confusing our relationship too much. I can't describe the tug-of-war I have with myself on the matter, though. Whether I should kiss him, let him kiss me; if the hottest nights under these sheets have anything to do with the weather. It's no surprise that he wants me…how many times has he professed it? Sometimes when Peeta is gone I think about that time in the clock arena. The peculiar way in which his hips seemed to move with mine…the electricity that it sent through me. It's unbearable…desire. How terribly Capitol and ridiculous that word sounds in my thoughts. It's true, however, that desire sometimes creeps into me when he's here. These are the times when I want Peeta to kiss me, when I have no confusion about my feelings.
We have a somewhat peaceful routine right now, where everything is baking, painting, hunting, and coping. I think about the ways I could disrupt this routine, complicate things for the both of us.
"Katniss?" It's barely an audible whisper. I nestle into his arms a little and wait for him to do something else. He takes a breath before saying, "Can I kiss you?"
I try not to think about it too much as I pull my head away from his shoulder and lay it closer into his neck. I feel his lips on the top of my head again…I still don't answer.
It's a wonder how his eyes have managed to stay the same crystal clear color of blue. When I think about it, I am sure the grey in my eyes has turned black. Nothing has effected his, though, those blue eyes are there even under the faintest of light. They are there even when he loses himself for the odd moment or two, when his mind wars with itself for familiarity and sanity. He has beautiful eyes, I have always thought so.
They close as I realize he is about to kiss me. I think I will kiss him tonight, for some reason, though I'm not sure why it's any different than the last few rejections. His lips touch mine, tantalizingly slow and deliberately. I can tell he is trying to make this kiss count for something and that thought stirs my stomach with excitement, fear.
The kisses we've shared since the war ended, maybe three or four, have been different than I remember. Much different than the times I threw my arms around him and pretended to be in love with him, using him as an object of survival. They haven't been like the authentic ones either, though. They are not the same as when I first knew I had real feelings for him…they are new, unique.
They leave me wanting more. I turn completely to face him, lips attached. I want to be daring, I want to touch and soak up everything he has to offer. The solace he gives me in this bed. I think about what District 12 would be like if Peeta wasn't here…and I know that I wouldn't be able to stand it. What is it about him that makes him a lifeline? Surely, it is more than just our own disturbing experiences. I can't help but compare him to Gale, who used to be here with me. Gale was never reaped, though. Gale never kneeled with me, broken and clinging to the last sliver of hope, Nightlock on his lips. His name was never called. Still, it's more than that. Gale is a burning warrior and Peeta is not. He is the calmness that I've needed, maybe even since I was a starving Seam brat digging through garbage. Even now, in the winter of a crushed home…he is a yellow dandelion offering spring.
So I kiss him deeply, to tell him I need him. I want him to know.
It takes ten minutes of hinting, my own shy nature, uneasy and uncomfortable with the prospect of sex. I can tell he is modest, wanting me to call all the shots. It goes on like this for a few moments, somewhere in between kissing and something more. Finally, I take his hands and place them directly on my chest. I can see his eyes widen, his body tense with confusion and fear. I myself am shaking, worried that I have taken it too far too soon. I can feel the electric pull, though, and it's hard to stifle the feeling. Ideas pop into my head of our bodies, his especially, and how we could place them together. I press my forehead to his and whisper that it's okay. That I want to.
Being Peeta, he of course asks if I am sure. It's not as if I have ever done this before. Like what Peeta said during the second Games tour, I'm innocent. It may be true, but I feel like being honest. If I "made love" with Peeta, wouldn't it be another way to feel free?
Without too much thought, I pull off my night shirt and toss it aside, slightly amused by the intense shock in Peeta's face. I am completely bare, slightly cold, but also warm to the core. I being to feel the creeping sensation of self consciousness as I remember what my chest now looks like. I had forgotten about the scars, leaving my right breast and torso covered in pink, melted skin. Quickly, I throw my arms around myself to cover them.
"They're awful…disgusting," I say, telling myself not to cry.
"Don't." He tugs at my arms gently, places a kiss on my throat. "Katniss, I have a fake leg, remember? They're nothing."
I think I can accept it, if I try. I will never be comfortable with this battle-scarred body. It feels all wrong, alien. Peeta stays attached to my lips, his hands roaming as I've allowed him. Nervous and eager, I lean into his hips and feel that he is alive under the sheets It's all so new and real, I wonder if I doing any of this right.
And suddenly, as I move my hips forward again, he lets out a gasp. The sound drives me forward and I do it again. He breaths heavily, fingers fumbling for my clothes. He wants the layers gone and I agree that there's far too much between us.
He slips his arm under my thigh, and flips us around. He hovers overtop of me, his breath coming out deep.
This is where I see him best. His eyes, his lips that are swollen from kissing. I can see him as a child delivering me the burnt bread, dripping in the rain. I can see him telling me that he'd kill for me, he'd die for me.
Afterward, as morning settles into the windows, and the sound of the new District's rebuild is distant outside, I almost fall asleep. His arms are still around me, the blankets thrown on the floor, our flawed and scarred bodies are naked. He laughs with a course voice.
"Why didn't we ever do that when we had the chance?" He covers his smile with his hand.
"I don't think we could have. It wouldn't have felt right," I answer. I can feel him nod as he strokes my hair methodically. We lay in silence for a few moments, I feel complacent for the first time in a while. The silence is filled with feeling, though, and I know Peeta wants to say something. He was always very good with words.
"You love me…real or not real?" he asks daringly. I only have to glance out the window, toward the meadow where I'm sure I will find a dandelion or two growing. I know my answer, without a doubt.