Crack. The second egg dribbles into the bowl, and I toss the broken shell toward the garbage can. It bounces off, shattering on the tile floor.
"Wow." I look up to see him standing in my open doorway, hands in his pockets, golden hair dusted with snowflakes.
"Shut up, Peeta." I run my tongue over my teeth, crossing my arms.
He chuckles, making his way into the kitchen to gather the pieces of eggshell. "So tell me. How is it that you can shoot a squirrel through the eye from a hundred feet away… But you can't toss an egg four feet into a trash bin?" He scrapes the last shards into the garbage.
"Again. Shut up, Peeta." I turn my back to him, picking up a whisk and swirling it around the bowl.
"You're being a little harsh, having not seen me for a week." I can hear the childish pout in his voice.
I don't say anything, but I turn on my heel, arms crossed tight. I raise an eyebrow at him.
He breaks out in a grin, arms open. I sigh dramatically and accept his embrace, hiding a smile of my own. I'm painfully aware of every inch of his body that touches mine, his palms on my spine, his cheek on my ear.
"How was Two?" I ask, pulling away from his arms.
He runs his fingers through his hair. "It was… cold."
"That sounds glorious." Sarcasm drips from my reply. Peeta makes his way to a chair, and I return to whisking.
"It wasn't really what I was expecting. More work than fun."
"Peeta, you went there to teach an art class. That's more fun than I've had in weeks. Stop complaining."
"Hey, if you wanted to have fun you could. You're just a boring stick in the mud." I hear the joking manner in his voice, but it still hits me. I focus on my egg-beating, not replying.
"Katniss… Sorry. I didn't mean it that way." He bites his lip.
"Okay." It's a sad excuse for a reply, but I'm not good with words.
Peeta is silent for a few more moments. Then he takes a deep breath, "Gale says he misses you."
My arm jerks from the whisk, causing the bowl to overturn. Egg splatters onto my pants and the rest falls to the floor.
I find Peeta by my side in a fraction of a second, helping me mop up my mess.
"Geez! Are you okay?" his eyes meet mine, and I see the worry in them.
"Eggs aren't usually considered dangerous."
"I know, but-" "I'm fine." I cut him off.
His eyes search mine for a moment, "Okay."
"Thank you." I say as we clean up.
"I didn't know you cooked." Peeta takes in my messy kitchen scene, with random foods scattered across the countertops.
"I don't." I sigh, "Greasy Sae's granddaughter has the flu. She's taking care of her."
Peeta lets out a short laugh, "Here." He leads me to the seat he was just sitting in, and then proceeds to take over the kitchen.
I watch him with keen curiosity, taking in his movements. He's so graceful in the kitchen, as perfect as a professional ballerina on a dance floor. Only more masculine.
I scratch at a notch in my wooden kitchen table, thinking about what he'd said about Gale. My best friend, whom I haven't talked to in four months, lives in District Two now, as a highly-ranked military professional. I don't know his exact title, but I know he's widely respected. After I had moved back to District Twelve, we pretty much lost all contact. Our friendship didn't really feel like a friendship anymore. More like a pen-pal.
I don't realize I'm crying until a tear rolls off my cheek, onto the table.
"Voila." Peeta slides a colorful omelet onto a plate, and carries it over to me. He doesn't realize I'm crying until he sets the plate down. "Katniss? What's wrong?"
I shake my head, thanking him for the food.
"No. Please tell me." He kneels in front of me, using his thumb to wipe a tear from my cheek.
"I don't-" I choke on my words, "I'm sorry. I don't know."
"Don't be sorry. It's okay." He takes me into his arms, pulling me off the chair onto his lap on the floor. His hand gently tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. I cry into his chest, unashamed.
"It's just… I don't have anyone but you and Haymitch anymore. I'm alone. I… I don't have my mother, or Prim, or Gale, or even Johanna." I mumble, "Thank you for being with me. If I didn't have you here… I wouldn't make it, Peeta. I wouldn't."
"Don't say that. You don't need me the way I need you." He begins rocking slowly, hugging me close.
"I do. I wouldn't be here without you. I was always too selfish to see it. I thought I knew best, but I didn't. I need you. Never leave me, okay? Please?" I look up into his eyes and see surprise coating his face.
He doesn't answer with words. Instead he leans into me, his lips finding mine. While we kiss, I can feel my loneliness melting away into passion, as it always does.
"I would never even think of leaving you." His whisper releases thousands of butterflies into my stomach, and I can't help but smile. "There we go. There's that gorgeous smile."
I take a deep breath, pushing myself to my feet.
"Thank you for the food. It smells delicious. But I think I'm going to save it for later." I take the plate with the now room-temperature omelet, and place it on the top shelf of my fridge.
"You're welcome. I didn't want you killing yourself trying to make one yourself." He chuckles.
"Since when are groceries lethal?" I laugh along with him, helping him clean up.
"Knowing you, anything could be lethal."
"You worry about me too much."
"People tend to worry about things they care about."
I try to come up with a witty rejoinder, but none come to mind.
"So I have finally left Ms. Sarcasm speechless?" Peeta gives me a subtle wink.
"Peeta, you leave me speechless constantly." I close the distance between us.
"Is that so? Because the only time you're quiet around me is when your mouth is full." He smiles, his fingers dancing across the small of my back.
"Maybe you should come over and cook more often, then."