Just Because

She woke up with her heart throbbing and her breath coming out in loud rasps. She took a long gulp of water from the glass on her nightstand. They were there again. The horrid nightmares that stopped haunting her for a few months came back, more vivid and terrible than the last time. Darn those pills. She thought. I thought they were supposed to give me a dreamless sleep! She saw Rue's death. But it was different this time. It was her who killed Rue. Am I that really a bad person? Do I really endanger the people that I love? She knew the answer deep inside. Yes. Because endangering them would be as good as killing them. Calm down. You're not a horrible person. You're not the one causing this. It's President Snow, she told herself.

After what just happened, Katniss Everdeen knew she won't be able to sleep again. Not unless she had someone beside her. She didn't want to disturb her mother or Prim… so that left only one person who can comfort her. Peeta. The boy who she owed since he gave her that loaf of bread. The bread that gave her hope, that showed her that all was not lost. The boy who sacrificed everything for her, took a beating from his own mother for her sake. The boy who holds her everytime nightmares like this occur. He's been so good to Katniss and yet… she can't seem to return all those favors even though she knew that Peeta was not looking for payment. But Katniss hated being indebt to others. It made her feel guilty. It made her feel like she was an ungrateful person.

But this guilt was different. It was consuming her. Making her think that she was killing something so innocent and pure and kind. It was hurting her because she knew that no matter how much Peeta showed his love and kindness, she'll never be able to repay him. Her heart will always belong to someone else. She was still confused about what she felt for Peeta. But one thing was for sure. It has too much competition to ever win out.

She sighed. She doesn't want to burden her mother and sister. But she doesn't want to sleep alone either. She won't ask Peeta. That's the only thing she could do to lessen his pain.

She lied back on her bed again and thought of lovely things. Then she closed her eyes, waiting for sleep to show its presence. But a full hour passed and it still hasn't. Frustrated, she stood up and began pacing, in the hope that she will get tired and sleepy enough. After a few minutes of doing this, she actually felt sleepy. But at that time she was too scared. Cause if she sleeps, they'll come back and haunt her again. Those nightmares. She wiped a tear from her eye angrily, mad at herself for being such a wimp. But weeks in the arena could do that to you. It could transform a person.

With a strangled groan, she went downstairs to their living room, picked up the phone and began dialing Peeta's landline, hating herself every second for it. She knew that Peeta will get hurt but she just can't stand it. She can't stand the awful memories and the gruesome deaths. She can't stand seeing her father die again and again.

Someone answered the phone after the fourth ring. She was relieved once she heard Peeta's voice on the other side of the line. Just the thought of Peeta's mother answering the phone made her shudder.

"Hello?" Peeta said sleepily.

"Um, Peeta? This is Katniss. Can you please come here right now?"

Peeta looked at the clock. "But it's past midnight!"

"Just come, please. It's an emergency."

With a sigh, Peeta replied, "Fine, I'll be there in a minute."

Peeta Mellark tiptoed inside the Everdeens' house silently. He climbed up the stairs and headed to Katniss' bedroom. Having been there almost everyday, he can expertly make his way to it given the condition of his leg and the eerie darkness.

He opened the door to her bedroom and was instantly hugged by a scared-looking Katniss. "What is it?" he asked.

Katniss gulped. "I-I- I can't sleep. I keep having nightmares." she said softly.

"I thought you were taking your pills?"

"I am. But they won't work."

"So you want me to stay here?" Peeta asked.

Katniss looked at her feet, too ashamed to look at Peeta. "Yes." She whispered. "Just you used to in the train."

Katniss lifted up her gaze a little and saw Peeta's expression harden. "Why don't you ask Gale then?" he asked bitterly.

"Gale – Gale won't understand."

"Why not? I thought he loved you."

"I – I – " Katniss stammered then looked at Peeta. She was fighting the lump in her throat. "Just please, Peeta. I can't have those images in my head anymore." She said in a thick voice. "Please." She said when Peeta wouldn't reply. Her voice cracked. She knew how it was hard for him.

"Alright." Peeta sighed.

This made Katniss more guilty. She wiped away her tears hastily but there's no use. Peeta saw them. He hugged Katniss and wiped away the remaining tears. "Why are you crying? I already told you I'll stay."

"No. It's – it's because I don't deserve you. I hurt you when all you show me is kindness. You deserve a better girl, Peeta."

Peeta didn't reply. Instead, she towed Katniss to bed and lied down beside her. She curled up next to him and he put his arm around her shoulders. He kissed her forehead and whispered, "Sleep well." He closed his eyes and fell asleep with Katniss in his arms.

The screaming began. It woke Peeta from his peaceful slumber. Katniss was screaming, her arms flailing wildly. Peeta hated to see her like this. He hated to see her hurt. He sat down and clutched Katniss tightly, slowly rocking her. Her screams were muffled into his chest and soon it subsided and was replaced by a sob. She was mumbling something too. "Don't hurt them. Please…"

Peeta stroked her tears away with his thumb and lied back on the bed, bringing Katniss with him. He was slipping pass consciousness when something Katniss said jerked him awake. "Thank you…" she said.

Peeta opened his mouth to reply but he was interrupted by Katniss.

"…Gale." She mumbled. "Thank you for being there for me."

Peeta felt like his chest was pierced by Cato's sword. He knew that she was unconscious, but what she said stung. Her words gripped his heart so tightly and painfully. It was suffocating him. His lips quivered with the effort of preventing his tears. But they escaped his eyes anyway. They stained his shirt but he didn't care. If only she knew how hard it was to love someone and not to be loved back the way you want them to.

He knew that he was hurting himself by loving Katniss. He knew the consequences. Yet he shoved them from his head just to be with her again. Just to make her fears disappear. He sacrificed a lot of things, shed a lot of tears, and suffered physically and emotionally…. Just because he loved her.

AN*This is my first Hunger Games fic! Opinions anyone? By the way, this is a product of boredom so don't blame me for the mistakes!*