This is my first Hunger Games story. Hopefully the first of many, in various fandoms, as I get back into writing after a long-ish break from it. It's been a rougher summer than anticipated, and I finally feel like I'm getting back into the swing of things. That means writing, along with work and school. Let's see how this goes.

I've opened with three lines from Chapter 16 of Catching Fire. Obviously, those aren't mine. I just wanted to take part of Suzanne Collins' work to start. After those lines, it diverges into my work. In this, I wanted to explore a bit what could have happened between Peeta and Katniss while they spent time sharing a bed. It's entirely possible that tongues were wagging without anything happening, but I doubt two teens that have been making out for the world to see get into bed together and absolutely nothing happens. But, perhaps that's the brilliance of the books' romantic subplot. The reader is left to draw their own conclusions of what happened between the pair.

Enough with the meandering thoughts. Disclaimer: I promise I'm not making any money off this.

Thanks for reading. Your reviews are also greatly appreciated.


I don't want Peeta tonight. Especially not with Darius around. It's almost as bad as if Gale were here.

But I'm weak and have lost patience with nightmares. And nightmares will surely come after having spent dinner with the now-mute Darius serving me buttered peas. So, before he can creep back down the hall I find myself standing in the open doorway, asking Peeta to stop and inviting him in. I'm grateful that I don't see any sign of Darius as he steps past me and into the dark. I shut the door, lock it and turn into the room, expecting him to be near the bed.

Instead, I turn directly into Peeta's chest. He's somehow managed to find the plainest setting in these showers and smells like soap and heat. I freeze, caught between wanting to wrap my arms around him and guilt that Darius could easily be just on the other side of the door.

"Katniss," he exhales my name into the dark, his tone telling me that he'll be the same stand-up Peeta he's always been, willing to go along with whatever I want. It breaks down any kind of resistance to his presence I had before. Now, I just want those strong arms that chased away nightmares and kept me warm and safe. I wrap my arms around his waist and bury my face into the soft fabric of his shirt, squeezing my eyes shut to prevent any tears from falling. Peeta, for his part, brings his arms up to engulf me, his lips pressed to the crown of my head as he whispers, "It's been a long, hard day. Let's see if some sleep doesn't help."

It's all I can do to loosen my grip on his torso, take him by the hand and lead him to bed.

I'm not quite sure when, but at some point on the Victory Tour it became common for us to sleep only partially clothed. I feel no reluctance to climb into bed with Peeta wearing no more than a long sleep shirt over my undergarments. While I keep my eyes glued to his upper body, I no longer felt any hesitation when he slips into bed next to me in no more than his undershirt and boxers. Nothing more than kisses has ever passed between us. Some sweet and gentle, others hotter with a demanding edge, but still I have no fear of being so close to him in this way. Peeta would never take advantage of me. That, however, doesn't mean his body is on the same page as his brain.

So, when I awake in the middle of the night, with Peeta wrapped around my back, his arm holding me comfortably close to him and his hardness against my rear, I'm not surprised. I'm not disgusted as I was the first time, either. My mind rolls around his accusation that I am "pure", at least by Capitol standards. I huff internally. How pure a girl would climb into bed with a boy she's been jumping on camera for a year? And climb in wearing not much more than her underwear?

Peeta shifts in his sleep, pressing his hips more firmly against my bottom. I feel an echo of the heat and hunger I've felt a few times before when we kiss as he presses his lips to my neck. I can tell by the steady cadence of his breathing that he's still asleep. Of course he's still asleep. The few times we've woken in this position always lead to a lot of muttering and refusal to look into my eyes as he leaves my bed. A wicked voice seems to whisper in my ear. It urges me onward, makes sure that I'm well aware of the dull throb in my groin. I connect the throb to a word I've heard tossed about: lust. Before I truly realize what I'm doing, I roll my own hips back into the boy in my bed. I smile when my action earns a stifled moan and his arm tightening around me.

I don't expect the thrill that runs down my spine when his shuddering breath, bearing my name, hits my ear. He's awake now and about to make a run for it. I can feel the tension in his chest and arms as his sleep-addled brain puts two and two together. I'm aware that this is likely one of the last nights we'll ever spend together. In the next week, I will most likely be dead, and Peeta will be on his way back to 12 to live a long, full life. In this moment, Gale and Darius are far from my thoughts. All I know is that I don't want Peeta to leave. I want to know where this wanting feeling can lead.

I want a memory of us together to take with me as I leave this world.

I turn to face him so I can look him in the eye. The lights filtering in from the busy streets below my window just let me make out his blue eyes. My chest constricts as I recognize hope, fear and embarrassment in his gaze. I think I see my own desire mirrored in those gentle pools, but he's pulling away.

"I'm sorry, Katniss, I'm just going to go-"

My left hand suddenly has a mind of its own and has found its way to Peeta's strong jaw. He stops speaking as I touch him, my thumb resting on the swell of his lower lip. We're frozen in a moment that seems to stretch forever. He's so close that I can feel his breath on my face, and know that he'll taste like the mint paste he used to clean his teeth before bed. I lean into him, pushing Peeta back into the pillows. His hands are warm where they land on my hips. As I feel his mouth respond to mine, our tongues entwined in an intimate give-and-take that all of Panem has been witness to. I realize that Peeta's right. I am pure. Or, at least pure enough to not really know where to go from here. I know I want him to satisfy the hungry edge I feel when I kiss him. I know, from gossip overheard at school about what goes on next to the slag heap and the scant information provided in health class, that Peeta holds the key to solving this particular dilemma. I just don't know how to get him to go about it.

Fortunately, Peeta solves my problem before I have to admit ignorance. He brings his right hand up to cup my jaw. The move makes me feel surprisingly feminine. I try to focus on the feel of his lips moving from mine, to my jaw, to my neck. He suckles lightly where he can see my heart beat. I moan softly and can feel him grin at my reaction. These kisses are definitely of the hungry variety. I would be perfectly content to lie here forever with him, heat coursing through my veins to pool low in my stomach. I twine one hand in his hair, keeping his head in place, but my other slips down to find the hand he's left on my hip. I lace my fingers in his and guide his hand beneath the hem of what passes as my nightgown these days. It's not until his fingers hit the smooth, synthetic fabric of my panties covering my hip that he realizes where, exactly, I've put his hand. He removes his mouth from my neck to find my eyes. I see that his are clouded over and unfocused.

He licks his lips, nervous and hesitant despite my aggression. "Katniss, are you sure?"

I am sure, sure that I want him but unsure of what to do. I can hear Madge in my head as she tells me that he needs to hear I love him. That he needs to know I want him and am not doing this because I fear my impending death. I ask my only female friend why can't it be a bit of both. The specter rolls her eyes at me and leaves me to puzzle this one out myself. So, I give him the closest thing I have to what he needs, the most I am capable of giving at that moment.

"I'm sure, Peeta. I trust you," and I tug his head back down so his lips can meet mine.

His grin is infectious and I'm smiling when his lips crash back onto mine. He moves with more confidence than I would expect. Peeta shifts so he can lay me on my back and have better access to my neck. His hardness is now against my thigh. I can feel his heartbeat where he presses into me, and recognize the answering rhythm between my own legs.

Goosebumps form on my skin as Peeta exposes it to air. His fingers are reverent and still on my waist as I sit up and skim the fabric over my head. His audible, quick intake of breath when I lie back down pleases me. It's nearly enough to forget that in a week I may well be dead. He strips himself of his undershirt, revealing more muscle than I remember him having. I raise my right hand and run my fingertips from his Adam's apple to his pectorals and down to his stomach. I repeat the motion when I realize that aside from allowing me to map his skin, it's caused his eyes to darken and his breathing to become shallow. My hand fits perfectly over his breastbone. The rapid beating of his heart captures my attention as his own hands come alive and begin to trace light patterns across my skin.

Even as he settles between my legs, his lips back on mine, his hands don't stop moving. Peeta is everywhere around me. My skin feels electric. I feel every shift of him against me. I'm vaguely aware of a low moan leaving my mouth as his fingers find the clasp on my bra and the straps slide from my shoulders. He's so warm above me, and strong and alive. I squeeze my eyes tight and curl my fingers around his biceps in an attempt to root myself in the moment. I don't believe I'm capable of loving, not the way Peeta does, but I do know beyond a doubt that I will give my life for him. He means that much to me. And, I know that a world without Peeta is a darker place for everyone.

My thoughts are pulled back to my own body as he tugs my bra off my arms completely and begins kissing a path across my chest. It's my turn to have my breath hitch as his lips wrap around first one nipple then the other, his tongue darting out to tease them. I suck my stomach in as a reflex as Peeta counts my ribs with kisses and makes his way to my belly button. I'm suddenly very aware of the way his breath plays across my skin and how close he is to the juncture of my thighs. I raise my head from the pillow to find his eyes, two deep azure pits, staring back at me. His lips are frozen in a kiss just above the elastic band of my panties. I can feel him smile as he takes me in. It occurs to me that perhaps he's done this before, despite all his talk of loving me since we were five.

"You've done this before." What I intend to be a statement comes out as an accusation. I can feel my eyes narrow. "You move as if you've done this before." I'm relieved when he shakes his head, his hair tickling my skin and sending small ripples of pleasure through me. He chuckles and places another kiss on my stomach as his hands find the curve of my hip. His fingers rest just beneath the scrap of fabric covering my sex.

"I have older brothers, Katniss," he explains as he pulls, guiding the material down my thighs, past my knees, over my calves and onto the floor. My knees close of their own volition. Peeta gently parts them, opening myself to him and settling into his previous position before continuing. "Aside from the pictures they kept hidden under their mattress, I heard them talk about which girls in school liked what. And after Rye married, well, let's just say I learned more about my sister-in-law's preferences in bed than I ever cared to. But no, I've never had any… practical experience."

He places my legs over his shoulders and exhales my name before placing a kiss where I would never expect a man to. The stripping of my body hair has left me bare and sensitive to the wet heat of his mouth and tongue. My entire world narrows to Peeta and what he's making me feel. Sweet sparks travel from where his mouth is busy working on me to my chest, toes and fingertips. Soon, too soon, I feel myself contracting against his tongue. When I am finally able to open my eyes, I see Peeta, his chin resting against my belly, a small, unsure smile playing across his lips.

"You've really never done that before?"

He chuckles and kisses me just below my belly button. "No, never. Have you ever had that done to you before?"

He asks with his eyebrows raised, pretending to joke. But I know better. Now, after last year's ruse has made me more aware of what others are thinking, I know how my community perceives me. I know what they think goes on at night in the Victor's Village between me and Peeta, and what they think I'm doing when I sneak into the woods with Gale each Sunday. But other than a stolen kiss, Gale's never touched me and prior to that I'd never considered him as anything more than a friend and hunting partner. So, I bite my lower lip and give my head a small shake, my eyes never leaving Peeta's face. He must find my response satisfactory, because he rises up to kiss me once more, shucking his boxers and the final barrier between us as he does. He settles into my hips with ease, his erection pressing insistently against my opening. He looks concerned, as if something's just occurred to him.

"Katniss, I don't have anything."

My expression must give away my confusion.

"To prevent a baby. I never thought we'd be in this position," he trails off, his voice betraying his wonderment.

I cup his face in both hands and bring him into a kiss as I raise my hips to meet his.

"It's okay," I whisper into his mouth. "We don't need anything." I don't plan on making it out of the arena alive. I was the focus last time. Now it's Peeta's turn. Even if we were to conceive a child tonight, it wouldn't matter. But, as usual, Peeta reads my thoughts as clearly as if I had murmured them into his ear.

"Katniss, it does matter. You're making it out of the arena."

He captures my lips, preventing any kind of retort and distracting me as he thrusts into me. Even though he goes slowly, there's a burning sensation as I'm stretched in a new way. I whimper, frozen in place, as I try to will my muscles to adjust. Peeta, for his part, peppers my face in kisses and tells me I'm beautiful and perfect and amazing and to let him know when I'm comfortable. As my discomfort eases and he begins a slow, steady rhythm, I notice a loosening in my limbs. Moving on instinct, I raise my legs higher on his torso. My reward is his low moan reverberating against my throat as he pushes deeper. I feel a spark deep in my belly, and bit by bit it expands to a flame that spreads from my gut to my chest and out to my fingers and toes. I recognize the feeling as the same one that Peeta triggered with his tongue. I jerk his face to mine and thrust my tongue past his lips as my insides tighten around him.

He exhales heavily into my mouth and moans my name, his hips picking up speed. It's all I can do to hold him tight as he breaks apart in my arms. I can feel a gush of wetness where we're joined, but say nothing. I'm content to watch him and stroke his hair, his head resting on my chest as he recovers. Too soon, he pulls away. His smile is sad. I'm not the only one that knows this is likely the only chance we'll have to be together in this way. Asking fate to let us both leave the arena alive twice in two years is simply too much. Peeta leans over the edge of my bed and hands me my nightshirt. He slips on his boxers as I cover myself before lying down behind me yet again. He whispers that he loves me, presses a kiss to the back of my neck and drifts to sleep.

I stay awake, wondering if the tightness I feel in my chest is anger at the Capitol, or my heartbreaking. Perhaps it's both.


Author's Note: The two songs I listened to the most while writing this were "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry and "Samson" by Regina Spektor. Both are great songs and I found them useful to help me get into Katniss' mindset. At least, I hope I got into her mindset.

Thanks for reading!