Thanks to Indicate for writing the story "Ashes" to start the idea of Cressida and Pollux together! :D This takes place after Mockingjay!
Chapter 1: New Beginnings in District 12
I was finally home from filming the numerous celebrations in the districts of Panem. The Mockingjay Revolution was winding down the election of Paylor as president. The new camera crew and I had been on the move for several months first filming the wreckage of the war and then filming the districts efforts to repair the infrastructure. It was exciting because we were witnessing individuals and communities rebuilding their psyches. They were not merely looking to survive, but to rebuild their cultures and integrate themsevles into the renewed Panem.
I was living in District 12's Victor's Village. Having grown closer to Katniss and Peeta during the war, it made sense for me to live near them. "Greasy Sae" and a new girl named Heather were my housemates as the house was far too large for one person. Heather was from district 10 and she was working on how to grow crops in the soil above the coal-mines. Shops were being set up in the town and houses were being built on the outskirts toward the old area known as the Seam. Katniss and Peeta alternated between working on their book and doing their respective activities of hunting and baking.
The air was warm for a typical summer day when I went to town the first week I was back from my several months' long absence. I was picking up some things for the house. Greasy Sae was running a store. She tongue-in-cheek named it The Town Hob after the old Black Market shop. I had filmed opening day before my last tour of Panem. Today I stopped by a newly opened fabric and tailor shop ran by a family from district 8 to pick up fabric for curtains. We'd put them in the living room window.
"Yes, if you could run that line along the far wall, that would be perfect!" The manager said to a workman who was installing an electrical plug and wire. I was standing at the counter as she cut the fabric to my specified length. He turned around to face us and I gasped.
"Pollux?"I asked in disbelief. He grinned. His co-worker came around the corner.
"Don't worry. You'll get your camera man back. He's tagging along with us to District 5 as a consult on a pipeline project and decided to jump in with this one too." I didn't know Pollux had a second job, but I guess it made sense since we had a month with just a few filming projects.
"Well, don't work too hard, Pollux. This is our time off." I chuckled. He gave me a thumbs-up before I left the store. After my errands, I did some video editing until my roommates came home. Heather came in first since Sae had to close her shop. She was outgoing and nearly always chatted with the neighbors before walking through our door.
"Cress, did your camera guy tell you that he's moving in with the Peeta?" Heather asked.
"Nope." I said.
"Yeah. He and Peeta were moving stuff into the house. It was the tall blonde guy with a red beard."
"I think he's just staying overnight on business." I said. "He has another job he's heading out to soon, I think."
"No he's not. Peeta came by The Hob to get wood to make a bed and shelves. It's permanent." Sae said carrying a load of groceries into the house. We began putting them away in the kitchen.
"Oooooh, Cress, you should bring him a housewarming gift!" Heather squealed, her face brightening as she opened the pantry door.
"l - um -" before I could object, Heather shoved a tube of food dye we hadn't found a good use for and dragged me across the street. Sae just laughed. I'm sure she thought us 20 sonethings were insane. Heather knocked on Peeta's door. I gulped and stammered something as Pollux stood in the doorway. He looked back and forth at Heather and I chuckling. "Um - you and Peeta can use this - since you're staying here for a while." I said. I felt my face grow piping hot, and I figured I was beet red. Both Peeta and Pollux were trying not to laugh.
"He's staying here pretty much permanently since he's decided to make District 12 his home district." Peeta explained. Pollux nodded grinning. "Oh - thanks for the food dye! We'll use it on a top secret cake for Katniss."
"Ok. Well - that's good Bye!" I managed to say before taking off across the street to my house with Heather laughing hysterically in my wake.
When we got inside I sat on the couch and covered my face with my hands. "HEATHER! THAT WAS EMBARRASSING!"
"I bet he thought it was cute. " Heather replied. "Anyway, you totally got flustered when he opened the door. You like him, don't you?"
"Yeah. But I don't know if it's mutual. I am sort of his boss since I direct the camera crew and set up assignments."
"Well you'll just have to wait and see. Good thing we're all neighbors!"
"Are you ladies done swooning over the young men next door or do I have to put these groceries away and cook dinner myself?" Sae bellowed from the kitchen. Grateful for a distraction, I headed in. Heather would probably rib me about our little adventure for the rest of the evening, but I had to admit it made me laugh.
Did I expect Cressida to show up at Peeta and my door? Nope. Was it a pleasant surprise? Yes it was! This was a good sign that I did the right thing in moving. I was content to bounce around with the camera crew for a few months after the war. I picked up the piping contract job so I'd be able to travel with overnight accommodations paid for when I didn't have a reporting assignment. Betee was the one who suggested picking a district as a home-base. My brother and I were born in the Capitol, but there were too many bad memories to make it worth staying. Plus Avoxes were still viewed as second class citizens. If I stayed, I could have received a living stipend so I didn't have to do hard labor to survive. But I decided to relocate to a completely different place to start over.
"So, your plan worked." Peeta said smirking as I closed the door. "You want to live close to her, don't you?" I shrugged. "Yeah you do. You look at her the way I looked at Katniss for - ever." I shrugged again. Yeah I thought Cressida was cute and nice, but I'm pretty sure she wouldn't marry an Avox. She was raised in the Capitol and would have viewed us as slaves at best - less than human at worse. I'm surprised she kept me on the camera crew this long. I was teaching Peeta sign-language which borrowed elements from the ancient American Sign Language. I signed: Cressida. Friend. Peeta just winked. "Yeah, that's what I said about Katniss for the longest time." As if on cue, she came through the back door with slices of fresh venison. "Katniss! Thanks, baby!" Peeta kissed her before she went back to her house.
Thankfully, Peeta dropped the subject of Cressida living across the street from us when we fired up the grill in his back yard to barbecue the meat. All I had to do was sign, Which bread with the meat? and he went on a long monologue about how he spiced some dinner rolls to perfectly compliment grilled meat. As we were eating, I briefly wondered what Cressida was eating for dinner. After helping Peeta clean up, I spent the evening reading up on the project I would be consulting on in District 5. Work was a nice distraction from most anything.