Disclaimer: I do not own THE HUNGER GAMES. It all belongs to Suzanne Collins.
The sun was beating down on my neck causing small beads of sweat to dip down underneath the collar of my t-shirt. I unconsciously twisted my braid in my hand, flipping it forcefully over my shoulder. I scowled at the groups of people who were littering the field and track. I wasn't used to sharing the space with others and I was just contemplating forgetting my daily run and going home when I heard a shout that made my head whip around.
"Hey! Watch out!"
A football was whizzing through the sky on a direct path towards my head. Reflexes took over and I reached out to snatch the ball from the air and cradled it gently under my arm. I stood there for a minute at the edge of the track, awkwardly frozen in place, as football players in muddy shoulder pads gawked at me. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a boy I had never seen before with blonde hair and shockingly blue eyes stood in front of me, a wide grin plastered on his face.
"Nice catch," he said, eyes bearing deeply down into my own.
I tilted my head up to look at him. The boy was of medium build, though still more than several inches taller than myself, with broad shoulders and a round face. His hair was matted down with sweat, sticking to his forehead and curling up in odd places. His eyes sparkled in the sun and it seemed as though I could swim into the depths of them.
He cleared his throat and my cheeks flushed in embarrassment as I realized I had been staring. A small crease appeared between my eyebrows as I pondered this. I had never stared at a boy before.
"Anyway, sorry about that," he said, motioning toward his teammates. "I know I'm a small target but you'd think that a quarterback would have some aim."
I shrugged and pushed the ball back into his chest. It honestly didn't surprise me. My school's football team had never been good. I was actually impressed that the quarterback even had the arm strength to throw the ball to where I had been standing.
For some reason the boy remained standing in front of me and after I few tense seconds I felt obliged to say something. "So you're a wide receiver."
For a moment, the boy looked surprised, clearly impressed that I knew something about football. He quickly shook his head. "Nah, tight end. Maybe linebacker. I haven't decided yet."
I nodded, unsure of what else to do.
"What do you play?"
"What sport do you play?"
"I don't," I snapped a little too harshly.
The boy raised his eyebrows.
"I just come here every morning to run," I explained, unsure of why I was bothering. "I forgot that today was the start of preseason for everyone."
"Oh." The boy shifted so that he could tuck the football under the same arm that was clenching his helmet. He then stuck out his other hand toward me. "I'm Peeta."
I glanced down at his hand but chose to ignore it. "Katniss," I said.
After a minute Peeta seemed to realize I was not going to take his hand, so he reached up to run it through his hair instead. "So, Katniss…"
Hearing my name pass through his lips sent a jolt through my body awakening me to where I was and what I was doing. I seemed to have unconsciously drifted a few steps closer to Peeta during our brief encounter. The football team was huddled together a few yards away, clearly staring at us and whispering what I was sure were inappropriate jokes. I immediately took a step back.
"What is it that you want, Peeta?" I hiss.
"What – what do you mean?" Peeta was obviously confused about my sudden change of tone.
"I mean why are you still standing here talking to me? Don't you have some pointless football drill you should be running through?"
Peeta finally let his annoying grin fall. His mouth dipped down at the corners while he pressed his lips together tightly. "I'm new," he finally said. "And considering it's my senior year, it's not like I exactly have a lot of time to meet people. I thought I'd start introducing myself now."
Of course, I knew this already. The town was small enough that everybody knew everyone's name and face, even if you had never spoken to them before. And even if that wasn't true, I was positive I would have known this boy anyway. He seemed to be a human magnet.
"Are you a senior?"
I nodded before I remembered that I wanted this conversation to end. "Peeta, let me do you a favor."
His eyes lit up at my words and I had to remind myself of why I didn't want to talk to him. I honestly didn't understand why he was prolonging this conversation. Did he think I was in desperate need of a friend? Did I look so pathetic standing there at the edge of the track that he thought he was doing me a favor by speaking to me? Because I didn't want a friend. I didn't need one. After all, Peeta was right. He didn't have a lot of time to get to know people. One year and then he'd be gone. Along with the rest of the people in my grade. Off to some big time university to get a first-class education. And I'd be staying here, at some dead end job, barely scraping by. And they'll all forget I even existed. So why bother getting to know them? Everyone leaves. I accepted that a long time ago.
"You don't want to be my friend," I told Peeta.
"Why would you say that?" Peeta asked nervously, almost as if I guessed right. He didn't want to be my friend. That only strengthened my resolve.
"Because I'm the loner girl who never smiles and you're the jock who is sure to have people lining up down the block just to say hi to you."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that you don't need me as a friend and you don't want me as one either."
Peeta scoffed. "I think I get to decide that for myself, don't you think?"
"No, you don't." I sighed. "Look, we're not supposed to be friendly. We may go to the same school now but we are not in the same world. So stay in yours and stay far away from mine. Otherwise, you'll lose everything."
"Katniss, I don't think – "
"Well, I think," I said, cutting him off. I didn't understand his persistence. But he'd see soon. Once classes started, he would soon realize that I was not the type of person he should associate himself with. He would stay as far away as possible, like the rest of them. "I don't want to be your friend, Peeta. And talking to me will only make your life more difficult. So now do yourself a favor and just stop trying."
"All right, Katniss," Peeta resigned. I watched as he turned and jogged back to his teammates. While he tossed the ball back to the quarterback, I backed away and decided to forget my morning run and go home. As I walked away, I though back to my short yet confusing conversation with Peeta. I knew that I did the right thing. I didn't want to get to know this boy. But why did I feel like I just made a big mistake?
Author Notes: This is my first fan fiction but I promise this is going somewhere so stick with me.