Can you protect someone who doesn't want to be protected? Because I tried and I failed.
Every night it's the same dream. The end result is usually different, but it always starts the same.
She's running; so fast she's disappearing. And then I hear a thousand screams unanimous in their sound; Katniss screaming my name. Every direction sound can come from, hurtling at me like a thousand stabs to my heart. I take one step forward and it may as well have been a million steps back by the way her cries distance away. "No!" I shout. I'm shouting for her and for a brief moment, I hear her close, closer than I could have hoped for.
This is where the dream changes. Sometimes everything becomes pure white and all I can hear are explosions. Sometimes I get to Katniss and she's trapped under a net. I find her just as President Snow throws a spear through her heart, much like how Katniss described Rue's death at the hands of Marvel. Sometimes, and this is when my dream takes my breath away, sometimes I find Katniss and we're free. Free from any arena, from fear, from Panem. This is when my dreams become nightmares.
I can handle a reality close to my own. Not finding Katniss, or Katniss being eternally gone. But my subconscious is vicious when it gives me a reality so far from what is actually real. A happy life with Katniss is much more damaging to my mind then a nightmare where I lose her. But I'll take any dream as long as she's in it. My Katniss. My girl with the dandelion. Please. Please be safe.
I've been told she's with the Rebellion. That's my girl. They threaten her. They claim they'll kill her if I don't cooperate.
"I don't believe you. If you had the ability to kill her, you would have done it already."
The President snickers. With a motion to the Avox girl, the television lights up. I blink in the sudden light; what I see leaves me breathless. Katniss is hooked up to a monitor, her heart beating steadily. Haymitch is with her, speaking to Plutarch? Plutarch is with the Rebellion? I am distracted when Katniss whispers my name in her sleep.
"We can't keep knocking her out Plutarch," says Haymitch. Plutarch nods. "I know, but without Peeta, she refuses to function."
Haymitch turned so his face was visible. He had scratches down his cheeks and I wonder if Katniss was responsible. I wish whoever it was had blackened one of his eyes as well. All along, he knew what Katniss and I had started. All along he fought for the Rebellion. All along he had known he would be losing us. "We need her awake and alert. But nothing seems to pull her out of this. She is literally lost without that boy," Plutarch said. I don't like how he talks about Katniss, as if she were a tool for him to use whenever he pleased. But all of this cannot take my mind away from his revelation.
She refuses to function without me? She can't be this way. This isn't my Katniss. My girl is a fighter!
"This shows you can see her. This shows you can tap into a camera, not that you know where she is." The President's silence confirmed it. I smile.
"How much would she break if you were to die?"
"She already thinks I'm dead. And she will be fine."
"Will she? She's bedridden."
"She is Katniss Everdeen. She doesn't need me to survive. She'll be just fine and then what? You'll be ruined. She will destroy you." Silence. For a brief moment, I wonder if I have won this battle.
"And how will she fare knowing you're alive?" He didn't make sense.
"Why would that hurt her?"
"Oh seeing you alive? I'm sure she would be positively glowing. The boy she loves, alive? She would be radiant. And then in that same moment of unspeakable joy, we would kill you. How do you think our dear Miss Everdeen would fare then? Knowing you're alive, knowing that if she were but a moment sooner, she could have saved you. How would Katniss function then?"
I almost told him she would be fine. She would fight through the pain. She could overcome anything. But when she says my name again on the monitor I hesitate. How would she react if she knew I had been alive, only to have to watch me die? I knew she would have to watch it too. Somehow, Snow would make sure she saw my death. "What would you have me do?" He grinned; I noticed blood on his gums. "You will say exactly what we want you to for the camera. And if you don't, all of Panem will watch you die, including your beloved Katniss."
I feel defeated and weak. I was fighting to protect Katniss' sanity by preserving my own life. Given any other circumstance, any other day, I'd order them to kill me. But Snow's speculations had an heir of truth to them. Whether it is because of love or guilt, Katniss would lose her mind if she saw me die.
"What do you want me to say?"
"It's simple enough. You're going to call for a cease fire." I snorted. "She won't believe me."
He shook his head. "We both know you can be convincing. Convince the world. Convince her. Convince me. You will call for a cease fire or you both die. Your death will be her death."
She would hate me forever. "Fine." She whispered my name again. With another nod, the Avox shut the T.V. off. I pulled at the ropes around my wrist. "Please? Turn it back on?" Snow turned his back to me and shut the door behind him.
I stared at the blank screen. She called for me. She said my name. She was breaking because I wasn't there. In that moment, it all crashed down on me. She loved me. Katniss Everdeen loved me. The Capitol can make me say whatever they want. They can beat me, threaten me, torture me, but they cannot take my mind. My memories are my own. I will never forget this moment. The moment I realized Katniss loved me too. I will become the game piece I never wanted to be because she loved me. They can't take that from me.
Author's Note: I know, I know. Another random one shot. But I just love The Hunger Games! I kind of wanted to know just exactly why Peeta called for that cease fire, and this is the answer my brain crapped out. Let me know what you thought!