Disclaimer: Nothing, nada, zippo

Author's Note: Merry Christmas!

Just a little something to get my writing juices going and to get to a point of finishing this story.

As usual, there's drama, next chapter will have much more Katniss/Peeta. This was just setting up a bridge to that chapter.

If anyone has any ideas or anything they would like to see before the story ends, let me know. Reviews are always welcomed!

Thank you to EVERYONE for being so amazing and wonderful and fantastic readers. I do apologize for the LONG wait, and I will make sure to finish the story in a timely manner.

/ )/ )

(^.- ) Happy Readings


August 19th, 2012; 1:37PM

I'm staring at Boggs from across the aisle. I turn and look at Peeta who is immersed in a book that he had been apparently dying to read all summer.

Apparently I caused LOTS of distractions.

"He's watching the Incredibles. Like, he's watching the only child's movie offered on the plane." My eyes flit back over to Boggs who lets out a laugh.

"He has a five-year old." Peeta smirks, his eyes on the page. "Jane. He watches Disney movies and then acts them out when he watches them with her. He re-enacted Finding Nemo, in perfect quote, for her birthday a few weeks ago." He closes his book and looks at me. "It's pretty adorable." He leans over and gives me a small kiss, his smile spreads the width of his face.

"That sounds cute. Haymitch reenacted a scene from a movie one time." I weave my fingers with Peeta's, leaning closer to him. "It was at one of the Carrera's parties. And it was from When Harry met Sally. It's his secret favorite movie." He looks at me and cocks an eyebrow. "He was drunk, surprisingly."

Peeta laughs. "I'm going to miss you, you know."

"Please, don't." I roll my eyes. I wasn't in the mood. Not while we were still so close to New York.

"Sorry." He gives me an apologetic smile. "I know you don't want to talk about it."

"It's not a big deal. You're a car drive away, or a flight, and you'll be down every weekend. I'm not losing you."

Peeta doesn't say anything else on the matter, he gives my hand a squeeze.

"So, once we get back, what would you like to do?"

"Prim told Haymitch she wanted us to all go to dinner. Effie will be back late tonight so I think Haymitch, my mom, Prim, and I are going over to Snow's." I smirk up to him. "Why, what did you want to do?"

A lustful smirk appears and then quickly vanishes across his plump lips. I see his tongue dart out, his eyes flitting down to his book, his eyebrows raising almost suggestively. He shakes his head, clearing his throat. "My dad, actually, is taking us all out to dinner in Devin Port. He wants to talk to us about something."

I twist my head. "Like what?"

"I have no idea, I guess business." He shrugs.

Something stirs across my stomach, a gut feeling. I try to push all the thoughts from my head.

"He had that meeting with Haymitch and Snow, before we left." I tilt my head to look at him. "Is everything ok with the business? Do you think your dad is pulling out of the partnership with the Trading Company?"

Peeta makes a face. "Technically we're not in a partnership with the Trading company. We've been aiming to do a partial merge with the Trading Company and a partnership with Mission Moor. I don't see why dad would put a stop to it now." He leans back in his chair, his eyes sharpening as he drifts into his own thoughts. "I'll find out and let you know. I didn't bother to ask because he said it didn't really concern me."

I nod my head. "It's not like he would do anything drastic."

I feel Peeta mimic my nod. I move off of him. "I'm sorry. This was suppose—"

He silences me with a kiss, his hand letting go of mine to slide around my back. He moves it slightly up my shirt, squeezing my side.

"This has been the most amazing weekend of my life, Katniss, and I love you." His smile presses against my lips. "I wouldn't worry about whatever my dad has in store. He can't do anything, like retire, until Mark has graduated college. Let's be positive, maybe he bought my mother a cabana in Florida."

I chuckle. "That would be awesome. I'm just being weird."

"I don't think we were ready to leave our weekend cocoon."

I scoff. "It was a nice cocoon."

"Better than Finnick's beach house." He smirks and tickles me.

I elbow him slightly. "Oh, bite me."

"And then, we went to the hot spring and Sandy jumped into it, and he got burned." Prim shakes her head. "I thought for sure Luka was going to kill him."

It seems not everyone had had an amazing vacation.

"Why would Sandy jump into a hot spring?" Snow asks, taking a bite of his steak. Sae's steaks were literally to die for.

"We didn't know it was a hot spring." Prim rolls her eyes. "We spent all of Thursday just lying around the cabin."

Haymitch scoffs. "Steve was pissed that whole vacation. He kept texting me. Between Sandy getting injured every two minutes and Luka trying to get ready for that stupid marathon." He shakes his head. "We're going drinking after this shin-dig."

"I thought you had to pick up Effie?" I grab for my ice-tea drinking in in large gulps. My stomach had been twisting since we got off the plane and Mark had picked Peeta up with a grim face.

I still hadn't heard from him, and it was already seven-thirty.

"She switched her flight to tomorrow morning. Apparently her grandfather planned some elaborate party for her." He rolls his eyes as both Snow and my mother scoff. Prim and I look at each other before looking over to Haymitch.

"Are we missing something?" I ask, placing my cup down.

The echoed 'no' from the three adults assure me that Prim and I are indeed missing something.

"So, Peeta is off to Columbia on Friday, is he excited?" My mother clears her throat, her hand patting Haymitch's.

"He's excited. We were supposed to look at the campus, but we didn't have a lot of time." I smile. "He already has his plane ticket for the end of September."

My mom smiles back at me. "It's very sweet, him traveling back and forth like that."

"I give it until Thanksgiving." Haymitch shoves a spoonful of mashed potatoes into his mouth.

Snow rolls his eyes and shakes his head. "The boy lasted his entire life, I feel a year at Columbia, where he has access to our dear Katniss, they'll be fine."

I look at Snow, my lips in a straight line. He gives me a smile, raising his glass to me before taking a drink. I mouth a quick thank you, which he nods slowly at.

"You're such a sentimental old man." Haymitch states, shoving another spoonful into his mouth.

My mom laughs. "Hush, all of you."

"He was going to dinner with his family too, as well." I take a bite of the bread Sae baked. "His dad wanted to tell him and his brothers something." I look up to see Haymitch and Snow eyeing each other. "Is everything ok with the shipping plant?"

"Uh, yeah, everything is fine." Haymitch straightens himself.

"Why did he have a meeting with you guys?" I look down at my plate of food.

"He wanted to discuss some protocol with the merger." Snow gives me a guarded smile, leaning back as Cray walks in with Snow's white, pristine tea set. The smell of peppermint float over the dining. "I'm sure Peeta will keep you in the loop, my dear girl."

I give Cray a small smile as he places the tea down in front of me. "Ok."

"You aren't going to argue with us?" Haymitch gives me a look. "Cray, whiskey."

"No whiskey." Snow scrunches his nose up. "You're going out drinking with the boys tonight. Try to behave, just for the moment."

"Do I have a curfew as well?"

"Well, I think about three am would be more than generous, but knowing you, I should expect to hear from you around nine when you and Steven are tumbling into the office still drunk and without a wink of sleep."

Prim laughs. "Sandy says that his dad can drink you under the table, Uncle Haymitch."

Haymitch rebuffs. "Yeah, if I were dead."

"So much talk of alcohol." My mom scolds, her plate pushed forward and the tea steaming around her face.

"Your mother has problems with alcohol." Haymitch points his fork at my mom. "She use to hide the liquor from me and your father."

"You two acted like spoiled teenagers when you were drunk! Worse than you and Chaff." My mother sips the tea, smacking her lips together as she places the cup down. "I would get phone calls at all hours of the night."

"Dad use to drink?" Prim asks innocently. I can't help but snort out a giggle.

"Dad, Uncle Chaff, Uncle Haymitch, Steven, Corrant, Bobby, Prim, please. They're the alcoholics of the cornucopia." She sticks her tongue out at me, prompting me to stick my tongue out back at her.

"They are not the alcoholics of the cornucopia." My mom states. I can tell by her tone that she is un-amused.

"Eh, we're sort of the alcoholics of the cornucopia." Haymitch bursts out into laughter at my mother's dagger-ed look. "You know you love me."

The look on my mother's face clearly states , no, she does not love him.

August 21st, 2012; Tuesday

"It's just that you two do this sort of thing all the damn time." Cato stretches as the sun hits us, next to the lake.

"I didn't do anything this time!" My eyes move from Prim and Sandy in the lake to Cato. "For once, I did nothing!"

"Look, something is obviously up at the Shipping Plant. My dad is being too secretive and tight lipped about it for it to not be big." Cato places his arms behind his head. "We start back school in like two weeks."

"Did you read?" I lay down next to him.

"Half the books on the list. Madge gave me hell while you were playing house in New York."

"Ha. Ha." I groan. "I'll fail out of our senior year and then it won't matter what college I go to."

"Maybe you and I should just take a year off and wander around Europe."

"Haymitch and Steven would kill us." I mumble, my eyes closing.

"Not if we send a postcard from Paris."

"Haymitch would hire someone to come and pluck us from Paris before we even planned where we were going for lunch."

"I believe that. Chaff is in Paris right now, right?" I feel him shift to look at me.

"I think he's in Canada with Lora. Mags went to Italy to spend time with her sister."

"He didn't go to college."

"You don't have his charisma."

"I have charisma." Cato shoots up.

"Not the kind Chaff has." I smirk, refusing to open my eyes. "We wouldn't last in Europe."

"We might."

"Please." I open my eyes, staring at the crisp blue above us. "Why hasn't he called?"

"How about we'll go over there, after we drop the wee lambs off at the house?" Cato stretches, pressing himself to stand up. "Come on, he's my friend and your boyfriend."

"So?" I scatter to get up myself.

"We're going to do the good decent thing here."

"Which would be?" I wince as Cato lets out a sharp whistle to Prim and Sandy.

"We're going to go mind his business."

I make my way up the narrow stairs to the attic, Cato is directly behind me, his hand supporting my back. Portia had let us in, assuring us that no one but the three boys were in the house. We had gotten lost, only to ram into Rye who directed us towards the stairs. He was on his way to the airport, we were getting another visit from Johanna. I wasn't sure why we were getting a visit from Johanna, but Rye seemed too distracted to give an explanation.

I walk into the attic, noticing that the neat array of things is slightly mused.

"I wonder who went bat shit up here?" Cato comments. I watch him for a second as he begins picking things up, straightening the small part of the room we're in.

"I wonder what happened?"

"Rye, can you please stop—Katniss, Cato." Cato and I both turn to look at Peeta. It's clear that he hasn't slept since I last saw him. "What do I owe the pleasure?"

"Um, what's going on? You never called." He's covered in paint.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I got, and I'm leaving in like two days. I am so sorry Katniss." He looks as if he just realized he was awake. "Rye went, and now Johanna is flying in, Mark just, I'm a little tired."

"A little tired? Dude, you're not making any sense."

"Peeta, what the hell is going on?" He looks at me, his hand reaching out and caressing my cheek.

"My dad has lung cancer." Peeta gives me a grim smile. "I'm going to nap, wake me up in two hours."

He brushes some hair off my face and moves towards the stairs. Cato and I watch as he descends, before quickly turning and looking at each other.

"Rye took his frustrations out on the attic. Peeta locked himself in his studio. And Mark has been going through the office, looking at the Shipping Plant's finances and what have you." Lavinia places a cup of tea in front of Cato. "Rye called Johanna, so she decided to fly in and help with Rye. He's the most destructive, physically."

"Is Bobby dying?" Cato asks.

"According to the doctors, he only has a year or two left. The chemo isn't working and neither are his drugs. He's on a transplant list but there's no guarantee that the tumor won't grow on the new lungs. It's a weird string of mutation." Lavinia sighs. "That's why they've been sneaking into New York so often, they've been seeing some of the best doctors out there."

"He didn't tell the boys?" I'm in such shock. "How long has he known?"

"Since March, apparently." Lavinia shakes her head. "Mark was a mess."

"What does this mean for the Shipping Plant?" Cato places a hand in confusion.

"Technically, the plant has to go from blood to blood. Obviously Sabrina remains a CEO, but one of the boys has to have the plant signed over to their name."

"Peeta?" My heart drops into my stomach.

"Actually, it has to be signed over to Mark, he's over twenty one." Lavinia's eyebrows raise up and lower quickly. She's not happy about this decision. She's not happy about anything.

"Bobby was eighteen." Cato pipes up. We both look at him.

"Bobby was the oldest." Lavinia sighs. "He just has to have his name on it until Peeta is twenty-one. And it's just the name, Mark will still be going to school and everything, Sabrina will be making all the executive decisions, with consults from Mark, Rye, and Peeta."

"Mainly Peeta." Cato and I chime together.

"Well, Rye and Mark don't know anything." Lavinia basically shoots her cup of tea like a shot of whiskey.

"This is huge. I'm going to kill Haymitch." I clench my fist.

"And he just decided to spring this on all three boys before Mark and Peeta go back to Columbia and Rye heads back to California to, what, sail?" Cato looks at me.

"He's going to help his grandfather finish a boat he's been working on. Bobby is joining him. Apparently he thought he should explain why he wanted to go with Rye, and why he was moving to New York from November to January, and why he wants to go traveling and why he let everyone have Friday afternoon off and brought in barrels of food for them."

"I didn't know that." I look over to Cato who shrugs.

"Mark is the one who figured out something was wrong. Finnick called him and told him that his dad was running around the office, laughing, joking, let everyone off. He had never seen Bobby so happy." Lavinia smiles. "Mark thought for sure something amazing had happened. I don't know what, but, maybe they had gotten their merger and the family was a little richer. I don't know. But, when he confronted Bobby, ready to begin jumping up and down in excitement with him, he found Bobby taking his meds. Mark has sat in on my studying all my anatomy stuff and medical stuff to know that the medicine wasn't just a little thing."

Cato leans back in his chair. "We've been around Bobby all summer. How did none of notice?"

"We're self-absorbed teenagers." Lavinia shrugs, "and self-absorbed young people. And the adults just, apparently they all had inklings, your mom especially, Katniss. But she is a RN."

"It's just, so, I don't know." I place my chin in my hand. "Peeta hasn't slept at all?"

"Not a wink. None of them."

"Rye went to grab Johanna." Cato states, his voice raising.

"Rye went with Portia." Lavinia gets up and gathers the tea cups, ignoring that Cato barely drank his and I allowed mine to grow cold. "Peeta wants to delay the move a semester. Go with Rye and Bobby to California. He feels he missed out on so much time, being away and all.

Cato looks over at me and then back to Lavinia who is at the sink. "What did Bobby say?"

"He told Peeta to do whatever he felt was right. I think everyone needs to slow down and just, I don't know, take it in."

"This is huge, I mean, that's crazy."

"And that is why we have gathered around this table." We turn sharply to stare at Johanna. "And I have brought an offering for said table." She holds up a bottle of rum.

Lavinia comes over and grabs the bottle, glaring at Johanna.

"I'm just trying to help." Johanna unzips her thin jacket and flops down next to Cato. "Hey, good lookin'."

"What's up?"

"Not much," she shrugs and throws me a wink. "What's up Kitty-kat."

My lip shifts up in annoyance.

"Jo-jo, you could have at least helped with the suitcase." I turn around and stare, slacked jaw, at the boy standing in the kitchen.

He was at least six-two, his shoulders broad. His dirty blonde hair was shaggy, brushed off to the side to show off his brown/green eyes. He's tan and tone, his smile is big, shiny. He looks like a woodsmen, as if he should be chopping wood in the middle of a forest.

"Sorry, baby." Johanna blows him a kiss. "Katniss, Cato, this is my fiancé, Blight."

"Hello Katniss, Cato." He gives us a small wave. "I'm just going to take our stuff up to one of the spare bedrooms."

"Rye's helping?" Blight gives her a look like she's crazy.

"No, Johanna, I am exhausted and tired and just, done." I watch Rye as he walks in, flopping down at the head of the small rectangular table.

Johanna leans over and grabs his hand. "Would you like some rum?"

"Johanna!" Lavinia hits her arm. "Rye, go upstairs and lay down. Peeta is napping, I'm going to send Mark to go nap, and that way you guys will have some kind of sleep in your system."

Rye gets up wordlessly and moves out of the kitchen.

"Bunch of zombies." Lavinia mumbles. "I'm going to deal with Mark, excuse me."

Johanna looks over to Blight. Cato clears his throat. "Let me help you, man."

Blight nods in gratitude, waiting until Cato is at the door for them both to walk back to the foyer.

"How's Peeta?" I look at Johanna and shrug.

"I just found out about this today." She rolls her eyes.

"That doo-fuss, always trying to play hero."

"I should go check on him." I stand up. Johanna nods her head.

"I'm going to get settled in with Blight. He knows how to cook, so, I'll have him and Lavinia start on dinner so we can make sure the triplets get fed after their naps." Johanna follows closely behind me.

"Have Cato help them, I think we'll be here the rest of the afternoon."

"Ok, I'll supervise." I shoot her a look as we head up the stairs. "They don't allow me to cook, Rye and Peeta, that is."

"Yeah, I'm not allowed to cook either." She laughs, heading towards the left once we get to the landing.

I take a deep breath and maneuver my way through the halls until I get to Peeta's room. I don't knock, slipping in quietly. I turn towards the bed, smiling to myself, only to frown.

The bed was completely empty.

"What the hell?"

"I thought you left." I jump, my eyes shifting to the window seat.

Peeta is sitting, his knees are drawn close to his chest, the blankets ruffled next to him. He's staring out the window.

"Peeta." I move over to him, sitting on the window seat. "I'm so sorry."

"He use to sit up here with me, when I couldn't sleep. The nightmares and stuff, you know." He leans his head down, his eyes unfocused out the window.

"You were supposed to be sleeping, you came in here almost an hour ago."

"I tried laying down." His hand grazes the blanket.

"Come on." I grab the hand that is now laying limply next to him. He barely looks at me, his eyes instantly casted down. "I'll lay down with you."

I crawl into the bed, pulling Peeta in with me. I feel his warmth instantly. His arms wrap around me, my face ends up in his chest. I move as close as I can to him, noticing that he's starting to cling to my body.

"Peeta, talk to me." I shift myself until my eyes are aligned with his.

"I'm just so mad at him. We could have been spending the entire fucking summer together. He could die in a few months, or maybe a few years, or tomorrow, and when we could have had the entire summer with him." He growls. "And my mother is just, she's trying to pacify the situation."

"Did she know?"

"She knew he was going to the doctor, but he told her it was for carpal tunnel syndrome. As if my dad did anything that would lead up to carpal tunnel syndrome. The entire summer, Katniss."

"He was trying to protect you guys." I press my face into his neck. "He was just doing what he thought was best."

"What if he dies?" His voice breaks.

"Just focus on spending time with him while he's here." I feel drops of water on my neck. I close my eyes, my arms wrapping around him. I feel him shake against me and I feel helpless. "It's ok."

It takes five, ten, fifteen minutes, but I finally hear his breath become even.

I take another deep breath and settle close to him.

August 22nd, 2012; Wednesday

Johanna is gulping her coffee as if it's her lot in life. Blight is next to her, his sunglasses pushed into his hair. He's checking his emails with one hand, the other hand holding his iced coffee that's slowly being sipped. Cato is next to him playing angry birds. I'm simply staring at my overly large cup of coffee.

"I don't know why we flew over here if they're just going to kick us out of the house." Blight, Cato, and myself stare at Johanna. "Was that insensitive?"

"They're having a family discussion. It's not like we had much of a choice. Rye said he would meet us here with Peeta." I reiterate for her.

You know, the girl was just a pain in the ass. Though, truth be told, I was a little confused on why Rye had demanded Johanna and Blight fly over immediately.

"Bonjour!" I swivel in my seat. Rye waves at us, both he and Peeta move over to our table.

"Our parents are flying to Greece tomorrow morning, some random honeymoon destination trip thing." Rye waves his hand in the air.

"When they get back, dad will be spending September in California with Rye, and then November until the end of our semester with Mark and me in New York. We're all going to spend Christmas and New Years with each other." Peeta runs his hand down his face.

"So, you guys have a plan. That's good. That's productive." Cato smiles. Peeta nods his head.

"It's progress, and he's been doing well over the past few weeks, according to him." Peeta grabs my hand and my coffee. "What are we up to today?"

"How about we take a drive to the Cedar Peak?" Johanna offers. She looks at her watch. "It's about eleven now, we can spend the afternoon up there."

"I'm in." Rye smirks, stealing Cato's coffee. Cato glares at him and snatches it back.

"I am not your girlfriend, Rye."

"Ugh, fine." He gets up, he gestures to me.

"Carmel macchiato." He nods and walks off to the barista. "Cedar Peak?" Peeta gives me a smile, leaning over to kiss my head.

"Sounds like a plan to me." My half smirk twists his lips and I feel butterflies in my stomach.

"Yay!" Cato rolls his eyes and drinks his coffee. "Mountain time!"

"Don't worry, with Peeta and Rye there, you'll be in good company. They can't hike either."

"I can hike!" Cato hits the table.

I look at him, placing my hand out. "Cato, wait until we're at the mountain side before you start bragging."