Katniss' time was slowly ending in the Seam. She had been reaped. Now she was bewitched and cold. Shivering in the waiting room until that heavy door opened. It almost slapped her in the face. Gale's eyes were urgent and searching and she didn't like it. He'd been reading her feelings without her consent and her only option was to shut down and get him to focus on the matters at hand, on his hands actually. Her family could die without him and his knack for snares.

"Gale it'll be fine. You know what to do."

She sighed into his now wet shoulder. She had to suck it up or her first public appearance as tribute would be spoiled by weakness and apprehension. She needed everyone to know that she was no stranger to murder and sacrifice.

Again Katniss took a snap of a breath, put her forehead to his and explained.

"You've got to move love", her lips trembled as she put the golden pendant into his weathered hands.

"Katniss don't give me this responsibility like we won't be doing this together in a few weeks time. It'll just be a short vacation before the district gets to welcome their new victor, yeah? "

His eyes glimmered with false hope.

It took a while for her to look at Gale in the eyes again. But when their noses touched he was not expecting a gaze so infernal. It was hellish and he had to stare at her lips to keep himself from panicking again.

Katniss spoke again not letting go to the back of his neck.

"Minimizing the situation is just going to leave Prim and the wretched machine in more pain, also you screaming in the woods and scaring away the game. You've got to cut this shit, immediately. "

She leaned closer chuckling slightly.

"I thought you were my rock."

He was hurt by her statement more than the peacekeeper tugging at his bicep. Gale quickly shoved the guard aside and whispered something in the officer's ear. They were left alone again but for only a couple of minutes.

He made a decision.

Gale slowly took Katniss' head in his hands and turned her head so her eyes were no longer diverted. They stared at each other for ten solid seconds getting closer with each click of the clock hand. In what felt like the end of an Eskimo kiss he captured her lips in his while swaying for forty seconds after that. Their lips hadn't moved much but Gale slipped the mocking jay pin back into her right pocket as he cupped her ass. Just as he began to suck on her lower lip as she swiftly distanced herself from his chest.

She shook her head violently, discombobulated.

"No. Please stop. I don't want this."

Gale looked at her face once more and made his way to the other side of the room knocking at the door for the peacekeeper to grant him exit. He refrained from saying a word after such a loaded transaction.

Katniss ran as the door opened but she was restrained from leaving the small rectangular room.

"No! Screw you! Don't ever touch me again! Cut this brooding shit Gale or you'll let our whole family starve! "

Katniss scolded herself. She was behaving irrationally. She had to remind herself who she was doing this for. He made her feel weak and forget her purpose. Prim was her primary concern.


Now she wished Peeta had eaten the poison berries. Their on camera romance wasn't terrible compared to the off camera awkwardness. The Seam was just a few stops away and all Katniss had been thinking about was seeing Prim and being alive. Katniss wasn't as okay with death for a woman who had murdered so much life, so much love. The last time she thought about her mother she was on Rue's death bed of flowers, thinking about how not to be her mother or how her mother would behave. Katniss felt her mother was a coward and stone cold heart. But the last time she thought about Gale was the nights in bed where she had been able to see the woods in all its projected glory. The woods were a place where she could always find him. Sometimes she could follow his voice to the hollow where they talked in the afternoon. A place where no one could see and they lay on top of each other and she could pretend after they went hunting that she had no responsibility. She just would listen to his bullshit about rebellion and these old books he found about violent resistance. The best thing about the woods was the honesty that went along with it. She would hunt and just listen to the compliments that Gale would give her as they ran around looking for proper game to sell. He would talk about her collar bone when they would eat sweet honey and it would dribble from her lips on to her chest. He would go on about how he could see her leading people, and how liberating it was to see her release her bow from her cocked elbow. She missed the salaciousness and she was finally able to get back to it. Katniss didn't fear Snow and Peeta like she should. It scared her that she wasn't scared about most things anymore. She certainly wasn't afraid to get what she wanted and what her family needed. Stability. By any means necessary.

She thought silently and exited the train a stop early. Peeta looked like he was going to speak but he just gave her a chaste kiss and smile. Katniss thought it was funny that he never questioned what she was doing or her various decisions. Katniss felt it was his best quality.

People in the Seam worried about Gale. His face cast shadows on everyone's disposition. He suffered from bad humor. His ass left a mark in the hollow where he dreamed of the weight of Katniss on his body. Gale was sexually frustrated and melancholy like most of the stray cats that he killed when he was angry about the abundant poverty in their districts. If he wasn't busy finding food or cooking he sulked, but today he was optimistic because Katniss was coming home. She would come home and see that he had provided for her and her family and he had done what she asked.

The woods seemed iridescent. There was no electric fence anymore. There was a clear path to her new large home. Katniss ran down the trail bopping her head to the sound of the nocturnal creatures and the folk music that was played to congratulate her and Peeta's victory. It was a brisk pace and she missed the leisurely jogging in the forest and the comfort of not having to hear a canon for a while. She wasn't running from anyone. She loved that she had a destination. She loved that in just a few quick steps she could finally see him.

Gale stood with shoulders broader than ever before. He stood with his old shirt on. His lips curved into a smile, but Katniss could tell that he was holding back. Maybe it was just the way his brows cast a dark shadow over his face. He looked like a predator.

"Catnip."

She didn't know what to do so she walked up to him slowly her face looking up to his chin, but he continued to look forward. So she stood on her tippy toes and whispered in his ear.

"Aren't you going to congratulate me, Gale? Aren't you proud I made it out for you, for our families?"

Katniss' questions full of sarcasm left a bitter note in the atmosphere between them.

Gale sighed and his smiled faded.

"I've told you all my secrets Katniss. I mean, you're like a wildfire. You could spread this rebellion and we could revolt against the capitol. We could together. It's just, every time I see you with Peeta, I feel you've given up."

He stopped and took a breath from his frantic talking. Gale was surprised she even let him go on with his statement, but he continued more delicately this time. Gale was effectively striding into ambivalent territory.

"I can't tell you who to love. I can't tell you what to fantasize, but I can tell you that I dream about getting to love you without hurting your pride. You can't deny the sensuality of those afternoons we had. Well you could, but that would be unfair. Like you always fucking say."

Katniss tried to keep her cool, but her old bows were still in the marsh and if Gale wanted to be a bastard to her he brought the potential violence on himself.

"Kissing Peeta in front of those cameras is an act of self preservation. How was I supposed to know that I might get attached to a boy who was running from all the same demons as I was? Not everyone is as self deprecating as you, man. And I know ever since I left you think it's totally okay to sweep me off my feet . Some sort of antiquated sick idea that when I came back Id be saving myself for you. I was never waitng for your love or your help. I'm tired of giving Gale. I went and got what I wanted."

Katniss chest vibrated with dark laughter.

"And if I had wanted some then I would've gotten some by now."

Suddenly Katniss noticed Gale. Insinuation filled the air and it became lighthearted again. Katniss wondered if he knew how she felt about him. She wondered if she knew that on her hardest nights, and even in that cave that she thought about him. Gale licked brushed his lips with his thumb. Katniss watched him with fierce eyes. So fierce that Gale didn't notice that even on tip toes he was over a foot taller. But she was still smiling. He craned his neck to meet her ear this time.

"I've got a lot to give Katniss."

Well it's not like Katniss had ever done this before, but she was going to pretend she had because she had been through this many time times in her head.

Katniss thought silently to herself.

"Everything's going my way."

They finally relaxed their features and just laughed for a minute.

"You know when I came back Gale, I thought you'd up and run away from this hell."

Katniss softly whispered in his ear and then kissed him square on the lips. He put his fingers to her lips and she sucked on his index finger while holding his gaze. They went inside of the house hand in hand relieved that Peeta was outside keeping the festivities going in her absence. The house was empty and they were laughing and talking again like in the woods. Except this time they were older, the house was empty, and it was a dark lustful night.

The ascended onto Katniss' newly furnished room, a room that needed some breaking in.

Gale stopped at the edge of the bed and ran his thumb down her cleavage stopping to lick his lips, then to stare at her eyes. Didn't she know that his love deeper, tighter, and sweeter than acceptance of the Capitol? Gale didn't think she did, but he was determined to express it tonight. His now wetted lips brushed against hers and lingered till he got that unspoken consent to open and slowly lick the inside of her mouth. Katniss silently cursed Gales experience as he sucked on her earlobe while unbuttoning her blouse. Katniss felt bad that she wasn't contributing to the exchange, and didn't care one bit. He seemed to be enjoying himself just fine anyway.

Katniss stood in front of him and unbuttoned the rest of the way down her blouse and shrugged it off her shoulders. Peeta sometimes would fondle her braid when he was nervous but she didn't want to think about uncertainty or Peeta for that matter. She released her braid and her long brown hair seemed like wavy rays in the nightlight. There was a large window in Katniss' room that looked out onto that main street of her district and the lanterns and decorations provide by the Capitol framed her now topless silhouette as the moon framed her face.

Katniss walked toward Gale and muttered.

"I need you."

Gale laughed though his eyes where sad.

"You don't need me and you never will, I think that what scares me and intrigues me and makes me want you at the same time."

They were both kneeling topless in the bed kissing at each other's faces, as Gale slowly messaged from her back to between her legs. Shoulder blades in constant motion, Gale kissed each eyelid and moved to her collar bone whispering about watching her indulge in the fruits and nectars they found in the woods. Each bit of liquid would roll down her chest and Gale would just stare sometimes. Gale was still kneeling but Katniss formed a bridge with her legs so that she could kick her panties of her legs. She was completely nude.

Gale bent down took his lips and kissed her labia like he did her mouth. And then his tongue became penetrative and he looked focused. He spent time on each labium but then moved up to her clitoris letting his teeth scrape the length of her vagina then gently sucking on her clitoris. For the first time since she left Gale was actually making her happy with his mouth. She moaned loudly as the festival lights brightened then dimmed. Gale came back up her body and hugged her tightly both partners smiling at each other. Katniss smiled then slid her hands down his body and messaged his penis making him clutch on to her while he moved his hips till his release. She guided him in between her legs but Gale shook his head smiling.

"Maybe we could just lie down and talk for a while, I've got so many ideas about a separation, for Rue for everyone. I don't know where we'll be after it's all over but we've got to preserve the lives we've got. And avenge the forgotten lives of those who died in resistance, in the hunger games. I don't know if Panem's ready for new lives."

Katniss rolled over the bed and clutched the mocking jay pin from the side table.

"Gale. I think we're catching fire."