Gale left soon after, with promises of seeing me in the Capitol in a few months. As I settle more securely into the couch and Haymitch's arms, I let out a contended sigh.
"What's that for?" Haymitch says into my hair. I examine our intertwined fingers and give his hand a squeeze.
"Nothing," I say. "Just happy to see him, I guess. It feels as if nothing changed, thankfully." Haymitch hums and I feel the vibration run through my body. "Thank you for behaving," I add with a smile.
"I'm always behaved," he says sarcastically, but his eyes hold humor. "I have to admit I was kind of jealous when I saw you run up to him, though." I laugh and hit his chest with my hand, which he catches and brings to his lips. "I'm serious, I had to cross my arms to resist the urge to draw a knife and carve his pretty face."
"Haymitch!" I scold, but he laughs good-naturedly.
"As long as you're happy, I'm happy," he says, and I settle against him again. "Did you know," he says after a moment, "That you haven't tried to run from the house in over six months?"
"You kept track?" I asked, surprised. He gives me an enigmatic smile and quirks his eyebrows.
"There's a lot of things you don't know about me," he says pompously as he tilts his head up. I pinch him on the arm to deflate his ego a little.
"Oh really? Like what?" I say, taking his bait.
"For starters," he says, looking up at the ceiling as if to think. "I like the rain."
"Scandalous!" I say with a grin. He pinches me on the arm this time.
"Okay, know-it-all, do you know when my birthday is?" When I hesitate, he laughs, throwing his head back. "I thought so," he says smugly.
"Oh, shut up," I say, sticking my tongue out. Haymitch gives me an odd look and before I know it, I'm pinned down underneath him on the couch.
"Do you know," he says in between kisses on my neck, "that I love you?"
"Yeah, I do," I say breathlessly.
"Oh." He places his lips on mine and I smile into the kiss. His lips are warm against mine, and I feel his hand tangling in my hair. I adjust my body under is to run my hands over his back, to feel his muscles, his scars.
Suddenly, the shrill ring of the phone interrupts our moment and he groans, burying his head into my shoulder. "Right when it was getting good, too," he whines.
I kiss him on the forehead before I unceremoniously shove him off me to go answer the phone. "Hello?" I say, grinning when I see Haymitch making his way off the couch and to where I'm standing. He creeps up behind me and before I can guess what he's doing, he's tickling my sides, desiring a reaction. I bite my lip as not to bust out laughing.
Unsatisfied with my lack of response, he begins tickling me more and I let out a bark of laughter right as the person on the other line responds. "I'm sorry, what was that?" I say out of breath trying to swat him away. "Haymitch, stop it," I say with a laugh. He's just acting out because we were interrupted.
"Katniss?" a foreign voice on the other side of the line questions.
"Yeah, that's me," I say, attempting to push Haymitch with my free hand. "Seriously, go away," I laugh when he targets my stomach.
"This is Fulvia Cardew," the voice replies, taking on a strict tone.
"Hi, Fulvia," I say, hinting to Haymitch to leave me alone. He doesn't take the hint.
"May I assume Haymitch is with you?" she says, her voice dripping in superiority.
"Yes, he is," I bite out as I try to kick Haymitch's shins. That persistent jerk.
"Well, Plutarch said he called you earlier today to inform you of the segment. We actually need to know if you will be attending now, in order to set up and prepare sufficient advertisements for the special."
"Oh," I say, finally escaping from Haymitch's grasp. "Are we going to the thing?" I mouth to him and he shrugs, as if he means to say it's my decision. I roll my eyes at him. "Yes, we'll both be there," I tell Fulvia.
"That's great, I'll tell Plutarch immediately. I'll see you two in the Capitol," Fulvia says and hangs up the phone. I look at the receiver in shock, surprised by her sudden dismissal.
"That was kind of rude," I mumble as I hang the phone up as well.
"She's kind of known for that," he says as he brings me to him again. "And she hates me."
"Well, we get to see her at the Capitol," I say, patting his cheek affectionately. Then a thought occurred to me. "Oh, oh no," I say in fits of giggles. I don't know if I should be terrified or dying of laughter.
"What is it?" Haymitch asks, kneeling down to where I've doubled over.
"Oh, I hope you're ready, old man, because you're going to have to get all pampered and prepped before you can appear on national television!" I laugh, falling over again. I lift my head up enough to see Haymitch's horrified face and I can't breathe.
"Are you serious?" Haymitch roars and I think my stomach is going to bust open. "No way, no way in hell am I going through that torture again."
"If I have to suffer, then you're coming down with me!" I manage to choke out in between fits. In a sour mood now, Haymitch stands up, scowl on his face. "Where are you going?" I call out from the floor.
"I need a drink. I'm too sober to deal with this right now," and he disappears into the kitchen. I let a few minutes pass, allowing my giggle to slowly subside.
"Oh, this is going to be great," I say to myself, picking myself up from the floor. I can just picture my prep team poking and prodding him and making comments on his unkept appearance.
I hear curses from the kitchen and snicker to myself. "I think you look the best in blue!" I call out, teasing him some more.
The curses become louder, but I still don't feel badly. I have to put up with getting waxed, plucked, and buffed every time some important event happens. I think he can put up with it for one more time. "I love you!" I offer up, but I doubt he can hear me over his own anger. I wonder if he regrets saying yes now. Too bad it's too late to cancel.
Capitol, here we come.