AN: So I'm not big on writing fan fiction anymore, but I figured I'd try to get back into it.
Is this how it's supposed to be?
The question reverberates in her head for days. It becomes part of her schedule. Get up, walk around the empty house, avoid the outside world, attempt to eat, hold the screams back, question everything about her existence. She grows comfortable with this routine, yet each day, she becomes more and more infuriated.
When he comes back, his presence only serves to fuel her anger. How dare he come back into her life, after all that had happened? How dare he plant the primroses in front of her house? How dare the capitol take him from her? How dare she still long for his touch?
The nights are a different story. As soon as the sun sets, her anger is immediately replaced with fear. She sees Cato's face, ripped and bloody, begging for death; Rue's little body, the spear sticking out of her chest; fires engulfing the Seam as people scream for help; Finnick's body being torn apart piece by piece; Prim's eyes as the bombs drop, full of fear and pain. When she wakes up screaming, she buries her head in her pillow and wraps her arms around herself, searching desperately for the same comfort that she once had, the comfort that she can't deny that Peeta provided.
It's the anger, not the fear that pushes her out the door that morning, carrying her bow and arrows that Greasy Sae had brought her. Clarity. She needs clarity and she sure as hell can't find it in that suffocating, incredibly empty house that she has allowed herself to consider a refuge. She walks quickly through the streets, trying and failing to ignore the death and destruction that still lingers on every corner, in every blackened pile of debris. When she reaches the fence, she slips through a hole and steps into her former sanctuary.
Breathing deeply, she looks around at the familiar landmarks, each one containing its own precious memory. Her eyes linger on the rock that used to be her rendezvous point with Gale. She walks over, tapping her toes against the firm gray stone. Is this how it's supposed to be? Her anger boils up once more, clouding her vision with images of fire and smoke enveloping her and her sister.
Gale's fault. Her best friend. She lets out a soft sob as her legs give out. Fire engulfs her once again. She stares in horror as Prim's sweet face burns away, her own burnt hands gripping onto her sister for dear life. She looks desperately at her face again; Prim opens her eyes, her bright blue eyes. Confusion sweeps over her, for although every inch of her sister's body is on fire, the smile in her eyes is unmistakable.
"It's alright," Prim whispers, the smile evident even in her voice.
The scream ripping through her brings her back to reality. Blinking, she finds herself back in the woods, curled up on the ground, her hands balled up in her hair. She can still feel the fire licking her body, still hear echoed screams. She sits up, clutching her knees to her chest, trying to slow her breathing. A branch snaps behind her and she whips her head around. As her eyes fall on him, he freezes.
"I saw you walking through town," Peeta says, looking weary. "I was worried."
"I'm f-fine," she replies, clearing her throat. She avoids his eyes, turning her gaze to his large hands, raised up in surrender.
"You're bleeding." he says. He walks forward slowly, as if approaching a wounded animal.
Looking down, she notices the gash in her hand from her earlier fall. She tries to speak again, but only a small noise escapes her lips.
He sighs and extends his hand to her. She hesitates slightly before putting her uninjured hand in his, allowing him to pull her to her feet. She continues to avoid his eyes as he leads her back to the Victor's Village, never letting go of her.
They enter her house and he sits her down at the kitchen table. Out of the corner of her eye, she watches as he grabs bandages and alcohol from the pantry. He sits in front of her, taking her hand in his once again, and begins to clean the cut.
"Sorry," he whispers as she winces from the sting of the alcohol. She doesn't reply. Thoughts whirl in her mind, questions that she can find no answers to. Why is he here? Why was he following her? Was he really worried about her? Why is she not angry? Why is his touch sending electric pulses through her skin? He finishes cleaning her hand and wraps it with the bandage. She can feel his gaze on her as they sit there.
"Say something," he says, now holding her bandaged hand in both of his. "Say anything."
The desperation she hears in his voice only serves to confuse her further. She attempts to once again work through the questions in her head, and allows one to bubble up to her lips.
"Why were you following me?" she whispers as his thumbs start to rub circles on the backs of her hands.
"Like I said, I was worried," he replies. "I haven't even seen you leave your house in days. There are never lights on."
It's the truth, turning lights on isn't part of her routine, and the last time she left the house was to steal a bottle of white liquor from Haymitch as he slept off a hangover one afternoon. She had planned on drinking the whole bottle that night, but only got through half of it before her body spit the alcohol back out. Silly, really, to think that no one would notice her attempts to shut out the world.
"Sorry," she replies, though she's not sure what she's actually sorry for. She can feel his eyes on her, but refuses to meet his gaze.
"You don't have to apologize, Katniss," he says, dropping her hand to run his through his already tousled hair. "I just want to know that you're okay. I hear you screaming at night, in my dreams and in real life." His voice drops off at the end.
She can't think of anything to say, so she looks back at his hands. She remembers the comfort they used to give her, before those same hands tried to choke the life out of her. She expects to feel the anger begin to surface as it usually does, but instead, all she can feel is longing to have his hands touch her as they used to. The desire is so strong that she reaches out to him, putting her small hand over his larger one before finally speaking.
"I see them die. Every night, over and over. Prim, Finnick, Rue… All I see is blood and fire. It scares me," she says. But not as much as it scares me to wake up alone, without you, she mentally adds. Where are these thoughts coming from? It's as if the anger that once consumed her entire being has been replaced with one simple desire: Peeta's touch.
She allows herself to look at his face and has to remind herself not to gasp as she finally holds his gaze. His eyes, so clear and brilliantly blue, bore into her and send shivers through her body. His hand reaches up to brush her cheek gently.
"Katniss." His hand reaches up to brush her cheek gently. "It will be alright. Hey." He tilts her chin up when she tries to look away. "We're going to be okay."
She hears the sobs before she feels them wracking through her body, hot tears falling down her face. Peeta pulls her into his lap, wrapping his arms around her. He rocks steadily, whispering soft words that she can't hear above her own weeping.
He stays with her all that day. They prune the primroses out front. They try watching the television. She helps him bake a batch of butter cookies. He tries to teach her how to make frosted flowers. He sketches the sunset as they watch it from the porch. She allows herself a smile, the first one in months, as she watches his face and becomes distracted by his eyelashes once again.
That night, she wants him to stay, needs him to stay, but can't find the words to ask him. Instead, she leads him up the dark stairs to her room. He pulls back the covers for her and she climbs in. She senses his hesitation as he starts to move away from the bed. Before he can get far, she grabs his wrist, holding onto him like a lifeline. She again meets his blue eyes.
"Stay." She means it as a request, but she knows she's begging now.
"Always, he whispers. That word, which has come to mean so much to her, seems to echo in the dark room. He squeezes her hand, steps forward and climbs into bed. As his arms encircle her, she feels a warmth creep up her body and she lets out a contented sigh.
Minutes continue to pass as sleep eludes her. She lays there, head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat. The heat has not left her body and it fuels her actions. She raises her head to see his face. He looks completely content, eyes shut, mouth slightly open. She lifts her hand and runs her fingers softly through his bangs. His eyes snap open and he stares at her. Her hand moves to cup the side of his face.
"Katniss." He places his hand on her cheek, mirroring her action. "Katniss, can I kiss you?"
Her breathing hitches. Her body responds before she has a chance to actually consider his request. She leans in and closes her eyes as his lips meet hers.
Her hand moves from his cheek to the back of his neck where it grasps his hair, pulling him in even closer. He gasps softly into her mouth, moving his hands slowly down from her shoulders to her torso, coming to a stop at her waist as he grips her closer. She feels his tongue slide along her lip and she opens her mouth to allow him in. Her body is again on fire, but this fire is so different, so welcome.
They're moving now, rolling until she rests on top of his body, gripping his biceps. His left hand moves from her waist up her back until it's threaded in her hair. They're lost in each other, completely, both of them either unwilling or unable to break the kiss first. It's lack of breath that causes them to break apart finally. Peeta pulls back, kissing her once, twice more gently on the lips. She rests her forehead on his as they try to catch their breath.
"Peeta," she breathes out. "I missed you."
He places his hands on either side of his face and stares at her, as if trying to decipher some hidden message in her confession. A smile breaks out over his face as he wraps his arms around her once again, burying his face in her hair.
"I missed you, too. I missed you so much," he sighs.
As they drift slowly off to sleep, the question pops into her head once more. Is this how it's supposed to be? She can't stop the hope that permeates every fiber of her being.
Just a heads up, I don't know how often I will be able to update. I will try my very best to do so in a timely fashion, but life is unpredictable.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!