Disclaimer: Lots of dialogue this chapter ~
Gale thrusts me behind him as we approach the square, massive flames leap in the air. This is the only way home and it's being blocked by a crowd and a fire.
"Gale, what's going on?" I try peering over his shoulder but he keeps pushing me back. Quickly he turns to me, grabbing my necklace and thrusting it under my shirt. "Gale?" He looks toward the screen and snaps the bracelet from his wrist, reaching for mine too. "Talk to me," I poke him.
"Game's have already started," he mutters. My eyes dart toward where Finnick and Katniss stand across from each other, her arrow pointed to kill, just as his trident is. On his wrist dangles a sparkling golden bracelet. Like the ones we all have. "Give me your bracelet."
"No buts," his voice is filled with panic. "Give me, and keep your necklace under your shirt." I pry the plastic from around me and hand it to him. We pass by the fire and in it crackle the sparkling accessories I'd only handed out days ago. "Keep walking," he mutters to me, tossing our two in the flames and charging by. He made sure to do it when no peacekeepers were watching.
As we continue walking I hear shouts from the square. "…found wearing one… shot…" I tighten my clench on his arm. "… starting tomorrow… death…"
"What's going on?" I squeak as we reach my house. "Why are they so…"
"Because they know what it means, Madge," he says quietly. "And it's not just district support." It means rebellion. It means allies with Katniss. It means an uprising. "It was a good idea but we should have figured it wouldn't work."
I push open my door and Grash pushes past me. I raise my eyebrows and Gale pulls me backwards, letting the man with frantic hair pass. A golden bracelet dons his wrist. Him and Gale have a stare off before he scurries all the way down the steps and out past us, headed for the square.
"Do you know him?" I ask confused, but Gale shakes his head. Inside we find Bristel sitting on the couch watching the Games. "Bristel?"
"Hey," she turns around with a smile. It broadens when she sees Gale. "Well, look who it is…"
"Why was Grash here?" I cut her off. Her smile fades as she looks back toward me. "Were you talking to him?"
"Why would I be…?"
"My father isn't home," I snap at her. "Were you talking to him?" I repeat. I'm giving her this chance. And she doesn't take it.
"No," she shakes her head. "Of course I wasn't,"
"Madge," Gale's voice is soft, "Bristel wouldn't…"
"What is everyone hiding from me?" I yell, my eyes darting between the both of them. Bristel swallows slowly and looks from me to Gale as well. I ball my hands into fists as Gale rests his hand on my shoulder. "Don't," I bite out, pushing him off. "What's going on?"
"Nothing!" Bristel throws her hands up and stands from the couch. "What would be going on?"
"He had on one of those bracelets," I point toward the door angrily. "Why?"
"I don't know," she stresses.
"Madge," Gale tugs my chin toward him. "If something was going on we would tell you." His eyes lock with mine, soft, gentle. "Okay? I wouldn't lie to you about that. I swear."
"Okay," I mumble as he leans down to kiss me. "Sorry." He smiles lightly and looks up toward Bristel.
"It's alright," she says. "We're all a little…"
"Yeah," Gale finishes for her. "We know." Moments later Kasen strolls into the living room, a tray filled with cups of tea.
"Well now that that's over," he smirks, offering us the tray. "Anyone thirsty?"
Bristel, despite me reassuring her that I wasn't upset with her (which was a lie, I was pissed), ended up leaving anyway. Kasen, Gale, and I sat in the living room watching the Games. Most of it was the bloodbath although they'd flash to Katniss and her allies. An arena made of water. Great one, Gamemakers. Great one.
"If you two are sitting like that when the boss gets home I'd get ready for a scolding," Kasen says under his breath. I'm lounging across Gale who's got his arm draped across my shoulder, his lips near my ear. "Just saying."
"Thanks for the words of advice," I roll my eyes. Gale snickers and kisses my temple.
"Hey be nice," he teases.
"Yeah, listen to your boyfriend," Kasen laughs. "Be nice to the chef."
"Don't take his side," I elbow Gale who wraps his arms tighter around me.
"She's awful, isn't she?" Gale grins toward Kasen. "Spoiled brat."
"Am not," I mutter, trying to suppress my grin. All joking is in good spirits right now.
"I make her favorites all the time and she doesn't even say thank you!" Kasen pretends to be hurt.
"I always say thank you!" I laugh. "Stop being mean!"
"I'm teasing," Gale nuzzles into my neck. Out of the corner of my eye I see Kasen smirk. "I'm sure Kasen is too."
"Partially," he says halfheartedly, scanning his fingernails as if he just got them painted. "I have to agree with Bristel, you two are precious." Gale kisses my neck quickly and I feel the blush on my face. I'm not a fan of public displays of affection, but then again we're in my house. How public can this be? Kasen obviously doesn't mind and Gale doesn't mind but still I'm blushing. He's so sure of everything it makes my skin tingle.
"Hey Kasen, is my mom awake?"
"Mmm," he thinks for a minute. "Yeah, I think so." His eyes light up as I stand and pull Gale with me. As we start toward the stairs he calls, "Behave!"
"Always," Gale shoots back with a grin, his hand intertwining with mine. I pull him up the stairs and we stop outside my mom's room. "Are you sure you want me to meet her?" he asks. "You're so against me talking to your dad I…"
"Just wait here," I say, stepping on my tiptoes to kiss him. "I'll come get you alright?"
"Sure," he smiles. I take a deep breath and straighten my shirt, lightly pushing the door to her room open. She sits up on her bed glancing out the window with a dreamy look in her eyes.
"Hi Mommy," I say, pulling the door shut behind me. I hear Gale shift on his feet, probably to lean against the doorframe while he's waiting.
"Thought I heard you," she says gently with a smile. "Someone else too,"
"Have you taken morphling?" I ask quickly ignoring her comment while a blush creeps onto my face.
She shakes her head, "No, I just woke up." She straightens herself out and a small grin crosses her face, "Why?"
"There's someone I want you to meet," I say nervously. "If you're up for it, you know."
"Madge, dear, I've been stuck in the bed for far too long. I've been waiting to meet him since you first told me about him, silly." The pink on my cheeks refuses to disband and I stride back to the door. I open it and Gale peeks in, a smile crossing his face. "Well, get in here already," my mother calls, shifting in her spot. Gale laughs, coming in.
"Hi Mrs. Undersee," he walks over and extends his hand. "I'm Gale."
"Gale," she repeats, shaking his hand gently. "Nice to finally meet you."
"And you," he replies, sitting in the seat nearest her. I walk over slowly and take the seat on the other side of her bed. He looks so happy to see her, and her to see him. I'm too nervous to say anything.
"You're right Madge," my mother says, turning to me. "He does have pretty eyes."
"Mom," I groan. Just when the pink fades from my cheeks she has to say something like that.
"Thank you," he smiles. "I can see where Madge got her blue eyes," he catches my gaze and winks, causing me to blush all over again.
"Charmer," my mom notes. "So, Gale, do you work in the mine's?"
"Yes ma'am, every day."
"Not today," she points out.
"There were complications," I tell her. "No one worked." Both turn to me and raise their eyebrows. "Sorry, I'm nervous."
"Why?" she smiles at me. "We're just having a conversation."
"Yeah, Madge," Gale teases.
"Besides, if anyone should be nervous it should be me." Now it's my turn to raise my eyebrows as she lets out a slight chuckle. "My beautiful daughter's growing up! Look at this dashing young man," she gestures toward Gale. "He's stolen her heart from me!"
"Never," I reply with a gasp, although a smile's on both her face and mine.
"You're growing up so fast," she looks toward me. "I remember when you were scared to ask to stay at your friends house when you were younger." I laugh, because I used to have friends. "Now you just stay the night out without even asking…"
"Mom!" I gasp again, but for real this time. Gale rubs his neck awkwardly.
"Oh, I'm not saying I mind," she grins. "I'm just saying your father would if he found out."
"My fault," Gale says weakly.
"I don't want to know," she raises her hands up. "Your business dear, just stay safe…"
"Got it," I say quickly, the blush once again making an appearance. Even Gale's ears turn pink.
"With all due respect, ma'am," Gale says, "we haven't…"
"Gale," I groan, throwing my head back.
My mother laughs and raises her hand to her mouth to try to stop it. "You two," she shakes her head. "Well believe me, it's much reassurance to learn you've been gentlemanly," she looks toward Gale who smiles weakly.
"Nothing but," I chime in.
"Alright, suck up," my mother says under her breath, causing Gale to snicker.
"I swear you and Kasen are plotting my demise," I say, crossing my arms.
"Well, dear, he and I are practically siblings considering all the time we spend together." She pauses and looks back toward me. "Madge, honey, could you wait in the hallway, please?"
"What? But I…"
"Madge," she looks toward me, widening her eyes. I glance at Gale who shrugs and I push myself from my seat. "Thank you dear. I just want a word with the boy alone, is all."
"Alright," I say nervously, making my way out of the room. "Be nice," I point at her, and she laughs. "Love you…"
"You too dear," she smiles. Once outside the door I press my ear up to it begging to hear their conversation. I hear soft spoken words, a few laughs, some more words. I bounce on my toes and shift around the door trying to get better spots. Just as I move to another it creaks open and I fall onto Gale, who's smiling, and pushes me out before my mother sees me, pulling the door shut behind him. He leans against me and back me up against the wall opposite her door.
"I love you," he whispers, kissing me softly.
"Gale," I giggle, and he kisses me again.
"I'm literally so in love with you I don't know what to do with myself." His hand wraps around my waist, the other leaning above my head.
"You're a secret romantic," I breathe against his lips.
"Only for you," he grins, forcing his lips against mine. I tug him closer as his lips divert to my neck.
"You heard Kasen," I nudge him away lightly with a smirk. "Behave."
"Sure," he licks his lips. "For now." I grab his wrist and tug him down the hall. "Where're we going?" he grins mischievously. I push open my door and shove him inside, closing the door behind me. "Wow."
"What?" I turn. My room's clean. My bed's made. "What's wrong?"
"So much… pink…" he smirks. I look around and for the first time, I realize he's not lying. "Your room is the size of my house," he peers into every corner studying everything I have placed. The silk curtains, the four pillows I have fluffed, the dolls I have on shelves.
"Oh come on, it's not that big," I say nervously. It really isn't, either. He's over exaggerating to no end. He sees my panic and walks behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist. "Do you really not care?" I ask quietly. "That we're so different?"
"We're not so different," he mumbles into my ear. "Where we're from is."
"And it doesn't matter to you?"
"Not if it doesn't matter to you." I sigh as he pulls me onto the bed. We lay back and he scoots so our faces are inches apart.
"How do you always know what to say?" I ask as his fingers twirl through my hair. He leans forward and snatches a quick kiss. "And then you do that and…"
"And…" he trails off with a grin.
"And," I continue with a blush, "you make me all…"
"All…" still, he's grinning.
"All tingly. I don't know." He licks his lips and delivers another kiss. "Are you always like this with girls you date?" He raises an eyebrow and leans back a bit. "You don't talk about your past relationships."
"Neither do you," he notes.
"Because I don't have any," I say nervously. "I mean a date or two but that's basically it."
He pauses for a moment, "Was I your first kiss?"
"No," I shake my head. "Second."
"Who was your first?" he questions, his eyes filled with curiosity.
"Will you tell me yours?"
He laughs, "Yes, Madge, I'll tell you my first kiss."
"What?" his jaw drops.
"Peeta! In the fifth grade!" His eyes are dancing with mirth and I blush. "I was dared! I just wanted to sit with everyone else at lunch!"
"Are you joking?" he laughs. "Mellark!"
"Yes," I groan.
"And other than that you hadn't had any kisses until me?" I shake my head. "So really, I was your first kiss. Elementary school dares don't exactly count."
"Fine, then yes you were my first kiss, okay?" He scoots closer to me, his lips against mine.
"You'd never know," he breathes. "You're a good kisser."
"Flirt," I nudge him away as he grins. "It's so embarrassing."
"I think it's cute…" his lips taunt mine for a few minutes. Gale's hand runs through my hair as he lifts himself over me.
"First kiss," I say quickly. "Yours, go."
With a groan he rolls back to the side of me. "Ileana Fresh," he mutters. My eyebrows shoot to my forehead as I sit straight up.
"Are you serious?"
"It was in the eighth grade," he adds immediately. "It didn't mean anything…"
"Mean anything? She's… she's…!" She's gorgeous! Not only is she from the town with this stupid luscious curly brown hair but her family owns the candy shop. Seriously.
"She's not you," he says. "So it doesn't matter. I was in the eighth grade, Madge!" Her eyes are green like Jace's. I know that because I've always wanted green eyes and she has them. "You can't seriously be upset about this," he sits up after me.
"But," I sigh, rubbing my temple. "Ugh."
"Hey," he smiles, his hand trailing to my waist. "If it means anything you're a much better kisser…"
"Not helping!" I laugh, shoving him away. He grins and attacks me with his lips, kissing me all over. My nose, my ears, my cheeks, my forehead, finally my lips… "No one else," I jab a finger at him. "You're mine."
"Yes, ma'am," he mumbles. "Did you kiss Jace?"
"Is that a yes?"
"He kissed me," I stress. "And it was once. And I didn't like it."
"Why not?" he says, his voice low.
"Because I compared it to your kisses and it didn't compare in the least," I tell him honestly. "You're warm and smell like smoke and make me feel safe and…" he cuts me off with another kiss. "I love you," I whimper. "So much." I reach behind my neck and unhinge the golden chain.
Gale sits up, "What are you doing?" I re-clasp it and grab his hand, watching the necklace pool in it and then closing it.
"Take it," I whisper.
"I can't wear it, they'll take it from me." He kisses my nose. "Do something with it, keep it safe, okay?"
"You'll get it back," he tells me. "Soon, alright?"
"Sure, Gale," I smile, my hand reaching up to cup his face. "You're braver than me."
He laughs, "I respectfully disagree." His fingers find their way back to my hair as he spins away at my golden locks. "I should probably go before you dad gets home. Unless you want me to wait…"
"No," I sit up quickly. "You should probably go. I'm sure you mom wants you there anyway." He sits up after me and I pull him off the bed and out of my room.
"When?" he asks, lightly nudging me against the door frame. "Madge, I have to talk to him."
"I…" my eyebrows knit. "I'll talk to him tonight. Okay?" He grins, leaning his forehead against mine. "What if he doesn't like you?" I say quietly. "What if he makes us stop seeing each other…"
"There's no way anyone's going to stop me from seeing you," he mumbles. "Ever. Besides, your mom loved me…" a smile is permanently pinned on his face.
"I told you two to behave," Kasen's voice carries down from the end of the hall. "Your father will be home soon, Madge…"
"You have to go," I nudge him toward the stairs, pulling him down gently behind me. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"You bet you will," he presses another kiss to my lips. "I love you."
"Get out!" I laugh, shoving him toward the door. Another kiss. "I love you too, now go!" Gale grins and is out the door, happily trotting back toward his house. I sigh and shut the door behind me, leaning against it and throwing my head back.
"He wants to meet your dad?" Kasen asks as he makes his way down the stairs. "Brave kid."
"That's what I said," I mutter, glancing up at him. "Eavesdropping much?"
"Very much," he nods. "Only then, though."
"Why were you even in the hall?" I groan, using my hands to push myself away from the door and towards the living room.
"Giving your mother morphling, thank you very much," he says. "She's very fond of him."
"Good," I blush, sitting on the couch and pulling my legs up under me. "Are you?"
"Oh yes," Kasen nods, sitting in the chair Bristel usually sits in. "He's good for you. Not so… reserved. He's fun."
"You only think that because you two had a good time being mean to me," I realize with a laugh.
"Not entirely true!" Kasen chuckles too. "I just think you two are good together. You balance each other out. You should've seen it, you two all cuddled on the couch…"
"Kasen," I roll my eyes. "You're a grown man."
"I was young once," he laughs. "I had a love like that. Still do. You will too," he says slowly. "I know it."
A/N: Grash is secretly a very important character... heh. Also, parts of the conversation between Mrs. Undersee and Gale will be revealed at a later chapter. Lots going on underneath, maybe you've picked up on a few things. Anyway, don't forget to check out my other stories if you haven't already! Your reviews always make my day c: