Normal friends; What do they do? Well, they probably talk and laugh with one another, maybe cry on the others shoulder when things get rough… They hug briefly and make fun of one another playfully and tell each other secrets that they can't tell anyone else.
I'm not an expert on the topic, but I can tell you that normal friends, especially guys, do not, I repeat, do not, walk through the woods with hands brushing against each other in what was both a purposeful action, yet subtle at the same time. Every touch made electricity surge up through my arm, and I could have sworn Peeta felt the same way; he wouldn't stop turning to peek at me with something brewing behind his eyes that I didn't understand, but knew was in my eyes as well. It was something that seemed almost playful, but I felt it to my core. A strange, foreign feeling I didn't really understand.
At first the feeling had been something I thought must be friendship. It was warm and pleasant and fuzzy, and I felt connected to Peeta somehow. I didn't want him to be harmed.
Now though, now things were shifting. The little things he did affected me more than they ever should, and every time our skin connected I felt like I might burst into flames. I guess there had always been a slight physical aspect to us, even when we were very firmly only friends, but that had increased and now I craved the feeling of his hands on me.
"You alright?" asked the devil, peeking back at me over his shoulder from where he walked slightly in front of me. His hand gently brushed against mine in what must have been a comforting or inquisitive gesture.
"Fine," I replied, unsure of if it was a lie. On the one hand, no way could I allow myself to feel anything more than friendship for the baker in front of me. He was a guy. And even if that wasn't enough to compel me to push him away now, he wasn't just a member of the male species, he was just a baker. A simple, plain baker. If I had ever expected to find myself with or interested in someone (which I hadn't ever expected anyway), it wouldn't have been someone so far below me. My family would be horrified. Matter of fact, they were probably already horrified that he was even a part of our group at all, since they were without a doubt keeping tabs on everything happening in the games.
On the other hand, as confident as I could make myself out to be, there was a high chance that I was going to die here in this arena. It seriously couldn't hurt to have a brief bit of happiness beforehand, even if it was with a simple baker, a simple guy. Who knew, maybe all I really needed was that.
We continued walking in companionable silence, both lost in our own thoughts. Peeta glanced back every few seconds as though he were making sure I hadn't run off, and eventually I just sighed and knocked my hand purposely into his where it was swinging by his side.
"I'm not going anywhere," I told him honestly.
He peeked down at my hand before answering. "Sometimes I wonder," he said. "if you'll just run off because you don't want anything to do with me anymore. I wouldn't blame you."
"I've considered it," I admitted quietly, looking down and very slowly and gently letting my pinky hook around his. "I've considered a lot of things if we're being honest here. I even thought that maybe we should just get rid of you so you could stop being such a problem for me."
"But you didn't do any of the things you considered," Peeta replied, twining his ring finger 'round mine. I realized that we had stopped in the middle of the forest. "Why not? I wouldn't have been able to fight back."
"I don't know," my words came out as a groan. "I have no fucking idea why not."
"I think you do," he said in a hushed voice, not mocking, not amused, just honest and genuine. "You know why. It's the same reason I haven't run away yet, the reason I could never put a dagger through you." Almost all our fingers were interlocked.
"I don't know, I don't know," I said in a pained tone. My free hand came up to press against my eyes. "Fuck, it shouldn't be this way."
Peeta stepped into my space so that our chests were only a couple centimeters apart. "Who cares what it should or shouldn't be? It's not like we're going to make it out of here, or if one of us does, it's not going to be me so I don't care anyway. I just want to enjoy what time I've got left, and if that means I spend it with you, so be it."
I took my hand from my eyes and looked up to find him staring at me with intent, honest blue eyes. We were both silent for a moment, just looking at each other, studying one another.
"Can I say it?" Peeta asked in a whisper, laying his forehead gently against mine.
"Only if you want to," I whispered back, almost inaudibly. Peeta's free hand rose and landed softly at the side of my face, coarse fingers making soothing circles over my cheekbones. He didn't speak straight away, just stood there like he was measuring up the situation.
"It needs to be said," he finally murmured. "If it isn't, neither of us are going to be able to accept it."
"Then say it," I said, letting one of my hands snake up to put my fingers in his blonde hair. He remained quiet for another moment before smiling in a somewhat nervous way and moving to connect our lips in the gentlest of all touches. Despite how gentle and soft his lips were against mine, I felt a jolt of electricity soar through my body like I had been struck by a particularly pleasant kind of lightning. He pulled back without letting the kiss get any deeper and looked at me with big emotional blue eyes.
"I love you," he said. "I love you, I love you, I love you." He laughed at himself quietly and tucked his face into my neck, where I soon felt wetness against my skin. Oh god, he was… he was crying?
I stood awkwardly for a moment, not really sure how to respond to either him confessing his love or his crying into my shoulder.
"Why are you crying?" I asked at last, staring at the blonde hairs that were tickling my cheek. "You don't really seem like the, uh, crying type."
"Shut up," Peeta mumbled into my skin. Oh, yes, it felt nice when his lips moved on the bare skin of my neck. Now really wasn't the time though.
"No, what's wrong?" I moved his face away from my shoulder so I could see it. "I have a right to know why you're sobbing into my shirt."
"I am not sobbing," he replied indignantly, wiping the last few tears from his eyes. "I was barely even crying. It was more like watery eyes."
"Tell me," I ordered in my most commanding and threatening voice. Peeta tensed up slightly at that.
"Fine, fine, just… don't use that voice," he replied weakly.
"Okay, then spill," I said to urge him on. "Why are you crying?"
He stayed quiet, but I didn't push him any further, fully aware that he was going to explain; he just needed a moment to think it through.
"For several reasons," he murmured finally, letting his fingers play idly with the edge of my shirt. "I mean, first of all, it's just… big, right? Saying that? It's a big deal, and I dunno, it's just overwhelming." He sighed. "And then there's the fact that this… whatever it is… is doomed no matter how we look at it. We're in the Hunger Games, we're not two characters from a romance novel who can keep each other through trying times. One person in this entire arena is going to survive, so either we both die or one of us lives without the other. I mean, I don't know how you feel about this or anything, but I feel something for you that I haven't felt for anyone else… as stupid and crazy as it is. Even if you are Cato the sadistic asshole, I don't want to think about being without you again. Sometimes people talk about that one person that they belong with, their perfect match, their soul mate…" He looked up at me with a shy smile on his face. "I think you're my one person. My soul mate."
A/N: Hello folks! I haven't updated this story in... er... probably a year. I don't even know, I didn't check. Anyway, I typed this up randomly and I'm posting it even though it's short. I'm not entirely pleased with it but after how long it's been and how my writing has changed in that time, it'll have to do! I realize this story is full of errors and stupid plot business that I didn't bother with when I was originally writing it and I apologize. Might write a new one about these two to try and make up for it...
If you're still reading, bless your little brave hearts and thank you!
Reviewers please be gentle with me! (Or rough, I guess, if you're into that sort of thing.)