Author's Note: PSYCH, you thought I was done posting chapters here, didn't you! HA! Well, this isn't a chapter, per se, more of a... preview of my next work/bonus for my loyal readers. This, my friends, is the first chapter of "In The Control Room: Outtakes From The Mating Games," which, for now, you will only be able to find on Archive of Our Own (there's a link to AO3 in my profile). And, for those who have asked me about it in the past, I finally broke down and got myself a Tumblr account too (link to that also in my profile), and once I figure out how to post my fics there, I will. (Any helpful, Tumblr-literate people, please PM me. Please.) So, because of the stupid damn fucking fic purge, from now on, I am only posting at AO3 and (eventually) Tumblr. So there. Take that, Fan Fiction dot net! *middle finger*

Now, more on 'Control Room:' several chapters will feature Katniss' POV, and will be in first-person present-tense, and everyone else's POV's will be in third-person past-tense to differentiate from hers. This one is a Katniss POV, and occurs in between chapters 5 and 6 of TMG. BIG thanks, as always, to Phantom Serenity for beta'ing. Enjoy!


"Be ready bright and early for your remake, dear! Tomorrow's going to be a big, big day!"

With the click of the door shutting behind her, Effie leaves my room for the night, and I fall onto the soft, large bed that I can't believe is mine. Both Prim and my mother could share it with me, and we would even have room to spare.

This has been a hell of a day. Long, and torturous. Was it only this morning that I was out hunting past the fence? And now I'm trapped in the fucking penthouse suite of the tribute Training Center, awaiting the lifetime sentence that the Gamemakers will force upon me in a few short days.

My head spins with anger that I can direct at no one in particular right now, and it quickly becomes clear to me that I had too much to drink tonight. I wonder if I can skip the rest of those stupid parties. They feel like another tool used to coerce me into letting my guard down.

I can't let that happen. I have to stay alert, and strategize. It's the only way I'll survive.

It's clear now that I can't campaign for Single status—the Gamemakers have already labeled me as the next Johanna Mason, and I just can't run the risk of putting my family in danger. I can't let them end up like Johanna's family did.

But that means I'll have to…

I close my eyes to stop the dizzy feeling, but quickly open them again with a gasp as my mind's eye greets me with an image that's even more frightening:

A pair of deep blue eyes, a head of tousled blond locks, and a stupid, shy smile.

I can still feel his fingers on my arms from when he steadied himself against me during our kiss, creating a swell of goose bumps on my skin and sending a shiver down my spine.

I can still feel his lips against mine, like a ghost hovering there in the darkness.

And now that annoying ache is back again. The one low in my belly that has come and gone since puberty, and it's throbbing worse now than I've ever felt it. Maybe what's causing it is nerves—the anxiousness of what I'll have to do in the next couple weeks.

I close my eyes again, and see him in the meadow walking purposefully toward me. I see him in Haymitch's room on the train, a blush creeping over his face at his confession. I see him sitting so close to me in the hallway, coaxing me to tell him what's wrong.

I open my eyes and notice I can hear my heartbeat in my ears.

Then again, maybe it's nerves of a whole different kind.

I know how to get rid of the ache. Back home it would usually plague me at night, like it is now, before going to sleep. If Prim happened to be sleeping in Mother's bed, it meant I could quietly manipulate my fingers around my nub until I felt relief. If Prim was sleeping with me, it usually meant a rather restless night. A couple of times I had to go into the bathroom for privacy in order to just get it over with and get some sleep.

But my mind hasn't wandered like this before. Whenever I would get myself off, I would only focus on the feelings inside my body, and never on…

Fuck, I can't get those blue eyes out of my mind!

It had to be him, didn't it? It's just my luck that for some reason he's chosen to take pity on me yet again and try to save me. Well, I already owe him for saving my life once, and I refuse to owe him for any more.

But if I won't pair with him, then who will I pair with?

I took notice of the other male tributes tonight. Rue, Annie, and Mags even made a game of it—someone would pick out a guy and each of us would have to say if we would want him based on looks alone. I said no to everyone—most of them looked predatory, and I will not be considered anyone's prey.

Luckily they didn't have time to play that game with Peeta before he came and sat with us, or else I don't know what my answer would be.

Do I… want him?

It's a question I've never had to consider. It appears he wants me for some reason that I can't fathom, and I try to think of all I know about the boy I've never really interacted with until today in an effort to understand.

He's already proven to me that he's kind, and I know that he was well liked in school. He was always honored with awards for academics and sports, and sometimes I would see him in the market helping his father, who is also a very kind man for buying my squirrels every week. And Prim, of course, just had to tell me that she found out he frosts all the pretty cakes and cookies at the bakery.

Why on earth would someone so talented and popular have any interest in me? I still have no clue.

But, he kissed me, after all, so he must be interested in me… right?

After he kissed me, I did feel a kind of… desperation. I wanted a do-over. I wasn't prepared for that kind of thing, and if I was going to be a part of a kiss, I wanted to be on my terms.

The liquor seemed to help—or, didn't help, depending on the perspective. I definitely felt less inhibited with it coursing through my veins, and was able to initiate another kiss and get the feeling of desperation out of my system.

Of course, relief lasted about five seconds before I longed to do it again.

Stupid alcohol.

But, as I lie here in the darkness and it slowly wears off, I notice the longing is still there, as is the ache. Which makes me wonder, is it the liquor that's giving me that crazed feeling? Or is it because I do really want him?

Determined to figure this out once and for all, I close my eyes and let my hand wander past my stomach and into my underwear. I gently touch my nub as I try to think of Peeta. It's awkward, and I can feel my face heating up in embarrassment, but I try to focus on the kiss we shared in the hallway, and suddenly another feeling overpowers the self-consciousness.

I settle further into the bed and this time I try to feel his lips on mine, so soft and supple against my own. I find that I want more than just our lips to touch, and so my memory turns to fantasy as I imagine myself wrapping my arms around him and pressing my body against his strong frame.

The feeling of my fingers against my clit suddenly makes sense as I envision my aching body finding relief against him, perhaps even having his fingers touching me so intimately. His calloused hands tickling and pressing on my nub, making me squirm and twitch—it's all too much to fantasize about, and I let out a soft moan at the thought.

I can feel the ache reaching its apex, and so I move my hand to position my fingers at the entrance to my body. I push two of them in, and grind on my nub with the heel of my hand as I try to picture Peeta's face. I'm not sure exactly how this position would look in real life—they don't show much below the waist when they televise the Games—but I know that he would… enter me, somehow. I try to create the sensation of what I think that would feel like, and a shudder runs through my body.

I buck my hips up into my hand as I imagine kissing him more, and a low whimper escapes my lips. His name is on the tip of my tongue, but I dare not speak it aloud, for many reasons. I writhe in ecstasy on the bed, finally losing control and feeling my body tense and release around my fingers. They're drenched—more than they ever have been—and I try to wipe them on the inside of my underwear the best I can to dry them.

I let out a heavy sigh as I revel in the pulsating sensations in my nether region. I feel a smile play on my lips and a stretch my body out on the bed, feeling freer than I know I am.

I open my eyes and find it jarring to be in this strange room, alone. As much relief as my body feels having been sated by my hand, I still feel a slight tightening in my chest at the thought of being so solitary. I have the strangest urge to cuddle up next to a warm body, and have to settle for my pillow for now.

I can feel my eyes getting heavy as I finish arranging myself, exhaustion finally able to hit me after giving myself pleasure. But I know this time was different from all the times before it. It seems as though… I do want Peeta in that way, and that it maybe wouldn't be so bad to pair with him, if that's even allowed.

I still have my doubts, and questions that need to be answered—my main concern being that he's just taking pity on me—but maybe if he likes me like he says he does, I could be agreeable to a pairing.

The thought doesn't scare me as much as I thought it would. It still scares me in its most basic form, but with him attached to the connotation… It doesn't seem so unbearable.

A fleeting wish for him to have found me earlier this morning passes through my mind as I drift off to sleep, my dreams that night filled with possibilities of what's yet to come.


Once again, I can't say enough how thankful and appreciative I am for all your kind reviews. What I will be most sad to lose if this fic is ever deleted is all the wonderful, thoughtful comments I've gotten here. You guys are seriously the best readers I could ever ask for, and I hope you'll be able to follow me to AO3 or Tumblr for more of this fic. And remember, in addition to 'Control Room,' I also have a brand new AU I'm working on, which I will probably start posting soon as well. There's lots to look forward to, and I hope you'll be able to join me! :)