Disclaimer: I do not own any part of the Hunger Games or the characters, as they belong to Suzanne Collins. Parts of this fan fiction may be 'copied' from the books, but only to make the experience for the readers as true as it were coming from the books. No Copyright infringement intended.

(My story begins on Chapter 13; Catching Fire)

Chapter 1:

What did I come for? I think. What could I possibly want here?

"I came for a drink," I say.

Haymitch bursts out laughing and slams the bottle on the table before me. I run my sleeve across the top and take a couple gulps before I come up choking. It takes me a few minutes to compose myself, and even then my eyes and nose are still streaming. But inside me, the liquor feels like fire and I like it.

"Maybe it should be you," I say matter-of-factly as I pull up a chair. "You hate life, anyway."

"Very true," says Haymitch. "And since last time I tried to keep you alive… Seems like I'm obligated to save the boy this time."

"That's another good point," I say, wiping my nose and tipping up the bottle again.

"Peeta's argument is that since I chose you , I now owe him. Anything he wants. And what he wants is the chance to go in again to protect you," says Haymitch.

I knew it. In this way, Peeta's not hard to predict. While I was wallowing around on the floor of that cellar, thinking only of myself, he was here, thinking only of me. Shame isn't a strong enough word for what I feel.

"You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know," Haymitch says.

"Yeah, yeah," I say brusquely. "No question, he's the superior one in this trio. So, what are you going to do?"

"I don't know." Haymitch sighs. "Go back in with you maybe, if I can. If my name's drawn at the reaping, it wont matter. He'll just volunteer to take my place."

We sit for a while in silence. "It'd be bad for you in the arena, wouldn't it? Knowing all the others?" I ask.

"Oh, I think we can count on it being unbearable wherever I am." he nods at the bottle. "Can I have that back now?"

"No," I say, wrapping my arms around it. Haymitch pulls another bottle out from under the table and gives the top a twist. But I realize I am not just here for a drink. There's something else I want from Haymitch. "Okay, I figured out what I'm asking," I say. "If it is Peeta and me in the Games, this time we keep him alive."

Something flickers across his bloodshot eyes. Pain.

"Like you said, it's going to be bad no matter how you slice it. And whatever Peeta wants, it's his turn to be saved. We both owe him that." My voice takes on a pleading tone.

"Besides, the Capitol hates me so much, I'm as good as dead now. He might still have a chance. Please, Haymitch. Say you'll help me."

He frowns at his bottle, weighing my words. "All right," he says finally.

"Thanks," I say. I should go visit Peeta now, but I don't want to. My head's spinning from the drink, and I'm so wiped out, who knows what he cold get me to agree to? No, now I have to go home to face my mother and Prim.

As I stagger up the steps to my house, the front door swings open, and I find that I'm not where I thought I was. Peeta is standing in the doorway, staring at me, taking in the sight of my drunken state. Before I can stop myself, the tears are spewing from my eyes, an endless waterfall. Peeta takes me in his arms, and I don't fight him.

"Shh, it'll all be fine. We're in this together," he says. "I wont let anything happen to you."

"No," I say. I'm having trouble focusing, and spirits keep sloshing out of my bottle, down the back of his shirt, but he doesn't seem to take notice, much less care. "I-it wont…" I hiccup and continue to sob into his ever forgiving shoulder, as he brings me inside. I am a blubbering lunatic, and for once in my life, I don't care how others see my emotions.

The words I am trying to speak aren't coming out like I want. "Oh, Peeta!" I sob, and before I can say another word, his lips are on mine, instantly calming me. I pull away for a second, to really get a good look at him. The pain I see in his eyes is insurmountable, and I cant stand it. There is a sudden urgency in both of us, like we will never see each other again after this evening, and I believe it.

The fire within me is burning stronger than ever, and all I want is Peeta Mellark. I want every bit of him to surround me, protect me, pleasure me. I am selfish, but so is he. I can sense he doesn't want to stop, and I think he knows I don't want to either.

His hands intertwine with my hair, move down my back, and around my waist. I don't want him to stop. Carefully, I un-tuck his shirt, and slowly begin to rip open the buttons. He pulls away from me. "Wha-"

"Shhh" I croon, as I lean in to kiss him again. He doesn't protest at first, and then his hands are on my shoulders, pushing me away.

"Katniss," He says. "Your hands, you're bleeding all over me.."

"Oh," I sigh, as I take in the sight of my bloody, mangled hands. "I-I don't know what…" Now I remember. Vaguely, but only just, punching through the glass window in one of the unoccupied Victors houses.

"You should go see your mother." he sighs. Clearly he didn't want our time to end just yet.

"But," I stammer. "I don't want to. I want to stay here with you tonight. I need you, and you need me too."

"I know, but I'm no healer…"

I sniffle, like a defeated child, and finally I agree. Not wanting everyone to see me in my condition, I ask Peeta if he will go and get my mother. I don't think I can face Prim, and without a doubt, I know Gale will be there too. I wipe all evidence of tears, spirits, and Peeta's and my exchange, before my mother can see me.

I sit alone in Peeta's kitchen for only minutes before my mother walks in, Peeta close behind. I can barely see her face, but I can tell she too, has been crying. I don't say anything, and neither does she. She is in doctor mode, and I make no attempt to bring her out of it. Peeta sits by my side, and strokes my hair, caresses my cheek, while my mother works. I am too numb from the Quell announcement and the liquor to feel much pain. Once I have been stitched and cleaned, my mother gets up to leave. "Staying here tonight?" she says, trying to keep her voice stable.

All I can do is nod, but Peeta tells her that he will watch over me, make sure I don't do anything else reckless. She nods to him, gives me one more remorseful look, and is on her way.

We stare at each other wordlessly for a few moments before he gingerly takes my hand, trying hard not to upset the new sutchers, and makes me stand. He gestures to my bottle of spirits on the table and says, "No more of that for you. I think we've done enough damage for one night." cracking on of his trademark grins.

I look at him, trying to decide whether to laugh in agreement, or scowl and take the bottle back. But my brain is to ruffled to make any sane decisions right now, and before I can realize I'm moving, he's led me halfway through his house and up the stairs.

I don't protest, and let him lead me to his bedroom, where he sits me on his perfectly made bed, and takes in the sight of me. "You're a mess, you know?" and he moves in closer to me. He goes to remove my sweaty, spirit sodden shirt, and I stop him for a second before letting him continue. Something I always knew I loved about him, his gentleness, his kind way of doing things, and I am glad he is here, glad he is the one undressing me.


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