A/N: Another Katniss/Peeta moment. I have read the books and seen the movie and think both are wonderful.
SideNote: This doesn't really follow the same timeline as the book or movie (as far as the set-up of this one-shot)...but that tidbit isn't really important for the purpose of the one-shot, but I thought it'd be best to include it anyway.
Enjoy! Feedback is always welcome!
We decided to leave in the middle of the night. We thought it might give us an edge; trying to get close to the Cornucopia before the remaining Careers, Thresh, or Foxface did. Peeta's leg was better and he could walk easily…but I thought that with his heavy feet it might be better for us to travel in the night, when everyone else was hopefully resting up.
I couldn't lie though, I was afraid of what the Arena might hold at night. But I couldn't let Peeta know that. We had come so far. Just a few more people to…to beat, and we could go home.
Prim. Gale. My mother. Even the nasty cat. Home seemed so distant. I felt like I had been away for years. The thought of seeing their faces again motivated me to sling my arrows over my back and pull Peeta out of the cave with me.
"Are you sure we should be walking around here in the middle of the night," he whispered, "Who knows what's out here."
A shudder ran through me as I considered the many possibilities. I was thankful for the darkness so that Peeta couldn't see the fear in my eyes too.
"If it wasn't for those club feet of yours, we could've left at dawn. Besides, it will be better if we get there first. Then we can watch everyone else get there."
"And then kill them?" he questioned. I knew what he was implying: that it was wrong for us to wait and simply slaughter them. But that's how the games were played, I thought, slightly irritated. Sometimes Peeta's high morality could get in the way of my well thought out plans.
I stopped walking, "We have to win, Peeta." My voice was barely audible. I knew it was wrong. The thought of killing Thresh, after he had so generously spared me was horrifying.
He was beside me now, not touching me, but close enough for me to wish he was, "I know, Katniss. I just wish there was another way." He said looking up at the sky where the Capitol projected the Tributes' deaths nightly.
My emotions got the upper hand over my rational thinking. I had been in these woods too long. I hated the idea of killing the other Tributes, yet I knew they would have no qualms about killing me. I didn't want them to change me, as Peeta worried they might. I wanted to stay the same Katniss. I knew deep down though, that I would do whatever it took to get home, even murder.
And I hated myself for it. I closed the small gap between Peeta and me, wrapping my arms around his waist as he came to rest his head on top of mine, surprised at this display of affection, of neediness. I didn't have to say anything and neither did he. We both knew that our only hope was for someone else to kill them all before we had to.
After a few minutes I pulled away, "You know," I said, sniffling, "I still can't even hear out of this ear. What good will I be hunting anyway? You can barely walk and I can't hear. Some team we are."
A forbidden tear slid down my cheek and he brushed it away with his thumb, "Don't worry, Katniss," he said, staring down at me, "I'll be your ears."
I snorted, "And how will you do that?"
A small smile played at his lips, "Well first, we'd do this," he turned me around to face the dark forest. Moving his arms around my waist now he bent his face close to my ear, "And as walk, I'll tell you what I hear," he breathed. My stomach turned a little with his closeness. If I really concentrated, I could still smell the faint scent of fresh bread on his skin.
"This isn't very practical for hunting," I said, my voice shaky.
"I never said it would be," he replied.
He began to move away. I panicked and grabbed his hands tightly, his body pressed against mine again.
"Tell me what you hear," I suggested. I could almost hear him smiling. He took a step forward, his body pushing me forward with his, "I hear our feet. The wind blowing eastward. The river about 100 meters south of us is still flooding from the rain. I think that might be a squirrel pattering in that tree above us. Could be a mongoose too though."
I laughed out loud as he took another step, moving us together, "There are no mongoose here, Peeta. Do you even know what a mongoose is?" I tried to hide my smile.
"Can't say I do. So it's probably a squirrel then, right?"
"You are the ears of this operation," I said. Once again, I was surprised at how easy it was to be with Peeta. How easily he could make me laugh, even in the middle of a life and death arena. He just exuded happiness. A happiness I found myself wanting more and more to be a part of.
I stopped us and turned to face him, "You know what I hear?" He shook his head.
I moved my hands around his neck. Stretching up, I had every intention of kissing him. Kissing him because I wanted to, not because I needed to play a role or needed Haymitch to send us a silver parachute. But because I wanted him to know how much I needed him. That I probably would have gone insane if he had not been here to calm my fears and make me smile in this terrible place.
That was until I heard the massive Capitol mutt snarling behind us.