Just an alternative to the rooftop scene where it's Katniss and Peeta's last night before the Games. In this version, Katniss and Peeta are already romantically involved. Other than that, not much change or OOC.
Enjoy! Reviews are welcome!
"Are you scared?" Peeta mumbles against my shoulder. We sit huddled up against each other, crawled up on the ledge by the window listening to the noise of the Capitol crowd's cheering and celebration twelve levels below us. Despite the 2-inch thick glass windows, the sound is still much too loud and too different to district 12's eerie silence at night for either of us to fall asleep.
"Scared of what?" I reply.
"Of death." He says, sitting up. "Of the games, just – all of this."
All of this, I thought, definitely. Whatever the hell 'this' even was. Well, what was I scared of? The other tributes? The Arena? My life being put into the incapable capricious hands of the Gamekeepers and the Capitol? Of Prim going hungry at home with me gone from her life?
"Death is inevitable - whether you're in the games, or at home living your normal life." Images of a loaf of burnt bread being tossed in my direction flashed through my mind. An eleven year old brown-haired girl standing on the stage shaking the Mayor's hand. A cold, heavy medal being pushed into a too-small palm. "Doesn't matter if you're working your day to day job as a baker or in the coal mines," A seven-year-old Prim silently crying under her covers from an empty stomach at night. Begging and pleads from us to our mother to do something –anything- and just get out of bed and find us food. "If it's your time, it's your time, I guess."
Peeta pauses for a while and glances away from me. "So, I suppose it's my time." He says softly, eyes locked on the people below. For a second I think I see a flicker of rage pass through his eyes, but it's gone as quickly as it appeared.
"Don't you dare say that." My voice breaks, giving away my feeble attempt of acting strong. "Don't you go into the arena and not fight. Don't you dare give up, Peeta," He doesn't believe he can win. His own fucking mother didn't believe he could win. I'll be damned if there wasn't someone supporting him. I don't care that I'm his competition. "Promise me, Peeta. Promise you'll at least try to survive."
"Katniss, the possibility of me—"
"Promise me!" I cry, pushing down the prickling sensation at the back of my eyes where hot, desperate tears threaten to erupt.
He looks at me sadly and reaches up to tuck a piece of hair behind my ear. "Okay. I promise."
We don't say anything else for some time, his fingers drawing patterns on the back of my hand. The cheering below us continues, but we sit quietly, trying to enjoy whatever amount of peace we have left before the insanity of entering the arena tomorrow.
"What do you think happens to us when we die?" I ask, breaking the silence. It's been a question I've been contemplating a lot lately since we got here. After all, it's only natural considering our current circumstances.
"I think a lot of people want to think there's a heaven." He stops and I have a feeling I'm not the only one who has had this question running through their mind on a frequent basis these days. "I think, when you're near death, you grab a hold of the idea that although you're going to die, you're just going to another realm of eternal youth and perfection. A paradise where there's nothing wrong ever, and you're forever happy."
"I want to believe in Heaven." I blurt out. "I want to so badly." I've never said this aloud. I have the idea that if I say the things I think about in my mind out loud, it makes everything so much more real and I am no longer able to take them back.
"Why don't you?" He asks, and I'm scared to answer.
"Because do you see how we live now? Heaven and Hell – it's just fairytales." I can't stop myself from speaking. "There's nothing to look forward to, and there never will be. Not in this life, nor in any eternal ones next. I've had so much horrible shit happen in my life I can't see why there would be anything good on the other side." And there, I've said it. My darkest fears and thoughts all divulged and I realise that this is the effect Peeta has on me. He makes me comfortable to speak my mind – and it's terrifying.
"I don't believe in Heaven either."
"Oh yeah?" Peeta is not at all as cynical as I am, and so, the sudden revelation that even the baker's son doesn't believe in the ultimate happily-ever-after surprises me.
"No, I don't. I like to think we become a part of nature. We're not conscious of course, but all our energy, all our life – it has to go somewhere, right?"
Peeta's theory is logical and much more believable than the idea of living eternally and content for all that time, and yet, I am still slightly unappeased.
I've never really thought about the pain of dying. Until now, I've never known when or where or most importantly, how it would happen. However, no matter our cause of death, we all end up the same way. Cold and buried deep in the ground.
I'd imagine it to be similar to the feeling of falling asleep. Until we've woken up, we never notice we were asleep at all, and well, maybe that's what death is like. We don't even realise we're dying, and eventually when we do succumb to that darkness, we're never conscious again and so we never realise we're dead. It's just that we're awake and alive one moment, and the next, we've been wiped from the earth.
Eventually becoming one with the wind that blows the thick, black, coal dust to and fro in District 12 should make me feel free, but I don't. The chemicals released by my decaying body in the dirt fertilizing the plants and flowers around me should soothe my soul, but it doesn't. Why am I not satisfied with the possibility of particles of my being becoming the sunshine that beams down on Prim feeding Lady on a hot summer's day without me? Why do I still dread the day I am one with the trees, one with the air and one with the ocean? Why do I apprehend this at all if my death is inevitable and my days are numbered? What is there left to fear?
Peeta shifts closer to me and shuts his eyes. I breathe in his warmth, his scent, his love. He is cleaner than usual and smells slightly different because of the fancy Capitol soaps we've been using while we've been here, but he is still recognizable. He is still my Peeta. The boy with the bread.
And I realise, this is what I fear, losing this. Losing who I am and my identity. I fear not living when I have so much left to live for, so many people and so many possible opportunities.
At that moment, I decide to fight through, overcoming all the shit that the Capitol throws my way, because God damn it, I don't want to lose. Peeta and I – we're going to make it through the Hunger Games and come out the other side, one way or another, because death is not an option.