Author's Note: This is my first proper fanfiction so the characters might be OOC at times. Reviews will help me learn! Also, I own nothing except the plotline.
Bright lights. Muted screaming. Eleven thousand two hundred thirty six people staring at the stage, waiting for her to come out.
She was sitting on a small crate, hugging her knees to her chest, trying to keep her body as small as possible. Her long brown hair was in a messy braid, draped over her shoulder, about to fall apart. Just like her.
"Sounds pretty good," she said. "How much is it?" She held the smooth body of the guitar close to her body, strumming softly, playing around with the chords and humming to herself.
"Two hundred fifty bucks."
She looked up at the raven haired boy leaning on the counter then looked back down at the beautiful guitar. She bit her lip as she strummed a few more chords. She just couldn't afford it. She sighed and got up, putting the guitar back on its stand. "Thanks for letting me try it out," she said, trying to smile but failing somewhat.
Gale Hawthorne ran his hand through his hair and smiled at her. "I'd love to give you a discount, Kat," he said, grimacing. "But you know I can't. The store's barely making enough as it is. And you know Posy's about to start school."
"Yeah, I know," she replied, nodding. "I wish I could afford it anyway. It sounded beautiful." She thought of Prim at home, reading her eyes out, trying to understand all her lessons for medical school. For the thousandth time, she wished she made more from her singing gigs so she could help Prim more. Her beautiful, perky blonde sister had always wanted to be a doctor and she was trying to make that dream come true. It didn't matter to her that they could barely afford the books and other supplies for school. She would always work as hard as she could to get Prim whatever she needed.
She looked back at Gale as she pushed the door, the little bell making a tinkling sound as she hit it. "See you later, Gale," she said, waving. "I gotta go to work."
"Don't forget sound check tonight, okay?"
"You stupid boy! I told you never to change anything!"
Katniss Everdeen rolled her eyes as she heard the witch scream at the chef again. She continued to wipe the dishes, trying to ignore the yelling.
"Mom, I think it could really improve the menu. Just try it, ple—"
Katniss winced as she heard the sound of the hit and Peeta's slight gasp. The sound was quite familiar to all of them who worked in the kitchen. It didn't matter to the witch that Peeta was the chef. It didn't matter to her that his food was amazing and that the restaurant made money because of him. It occurred to her that maybe it didn't even matter that he was her son. She always hit him when he did something she didn't like.
She bit her lip as she risked a glance at Peeta and the witch. It was a wooden spoon this time. Luckily, Peeta didn't seem to have broken anything but his face was starting to bruise. He caught her eye and she looked away quickly, embarrassed to have been caught peeking.
"Don't ever talk back to me again," the witch said coldly. She tossed the spoon to the counter where it made a sound not unlike the hit on Peeta. "And throw that abomination you call food away. Your father and I made this restaurant and this menu and I will not have you trying any funny business with it. You will ruin everything we have worked for with your stupid ideas."
Katniss could swear the kitchen heaved a collective sigh of relief as the witch left the kitchen to go to her office. She glanced at Peeta who was now covering the bowl of food with saran wrap. She looked around the kitchen. No one seemed to want to look at him. She sighed and walked to the fridge, grabbing a towel to wrap some ice cubes in.
He stared at her as she approached him. "Here," she said, holding out the towel with the ice cubes to him. He didn't seem to be able to function properly as he just stared at her hand. She smiled a little to herself and stepped closer to him. She held his face in her hand, turning the bruised side towards her. She pressed the towel to the bruise gently, earning a slight gasp from him.
"Thanks Kat," he said, smiling at her. He tried to take the towel from her but accidentally touched her hand instead. She was surprised at the contact and almost dropped the towel. His face fell as he caught the towel and pressed it harder to his face. "Sorry," he said, quietly. He tried smiling again.
Well, this is awkward, she thought. "No problem," she said as quietly as he did. She was about to walk away when he caught her hand. She looked down sharply at their clasped hands then to his face, raising her eyebrow. He let go of her quickly and pushed the saran covered bowl toward her.
"Take this home with you later."
She looked down at the bowl, scowling. "No. The w—Your mom told you to throw it away."
He rolled his eyes. "I don't care what she said. I'm not going to throw perfectly good food away."
"Then you eat it."
He actually smiled and pointed to the pot he was working on. "I did," he said, sheepishly. "Did you really think I just made one bowl?" He pushed the bowl toward her again. "Please, take it. It's good, I promise."
"I know. Everything you make is good," she replied without thinking, staring at the bowl again.
"Really? You really think so?" he asked, hopefully.
She actually laughed at the tone of his voice. He sounded like a little child looking for approval from his parents. The laugh died in her throat when she realized that his parent probably didn't approve of anything he did. She nodded instead, staring intently into his bright blue eyes. "Your food is delicious, Peeta," she said softly. She wasn't lying. His food really was the best she had ever tasted. She picked up the bowl, having decided to humor him. Plus, it really should be delicious. Prim would love it, whatever it is. She smiled at him. "Thank you."