Peeta / Finnick story, set in modern time AU. Please read and review. Constructive critisism is always welcome, just do me a favour and don't complain about the subject matter, or the choice of character pairings. You knew what this was. Thanks!

Peeta Malark stood outside the dank looking bar, a small smirk crept along his lips as he noted how easy it looked to get away with what he wanted to get away with, and even though it seemed like a sure thing, he took another deep, nervous drag of his cigarette as the creeping feelings of fear and uncertainty rumbled in the pit of his stomach. He'd been caught without an ID here before, but only once. Maybe he'd get away with it this time, he'd been turned down from almost every other place that night, and was kicked out of the other by a bouncer who thought he was looking for trouble.

It hadn't exactly been his night. His buzz was already starting to wear off. He could feel the scotch swilled earlier already burning off, causing the dread of overwhelming reality to settle back in, something he felt the need to numb that night. God, how he wanted to forget for one night.

The flickering red neon light that illuminated the word 'HOB' provided him with enough light to examine himself in the reflection of the window. His dirty blonde hair was combed back neatly, the bangs out of his face. He certainly looked older than his age, perhaps it was merely wishful thinking. His black coat provided him with an edge, but most of all, it was the tell tale signs of insomnia that would probably make him look old enough to get a few rounds into him that night. The sleepless nights over the last few weeks had resulted with him being forced to wear dark circles underneath his eyes. He shrugged, taking another drag and turning away from his reflection. He hadn't slept a decent night since Cato stopped calling.

He didn't understand what the hell even happened. Weren't they happy? They had their problems, sure, but to just stop calling, to just completely cut him out-

He snapped himself out of it. He was so sick of constantly thinking about it. Couldn't he just have one exhausting day, followed by another crappy night of drinking and laying awake in bed all night, without thinking about him.

A clap of thunder emerged from the sky, followed by a steady flow of rain only seconds later. Peeta scoffed to himself and took a final drag of his cigarette as the ember burned down to the butt. The feeling of nicotine flourishing through his system wasn't enough though. It was as if the city itself could sense the darkness and loathing he channelled into the world, ever since the day someone he once loved left without saying goodbye. Ever since he realized, he may never be happy.

The music inside the bar was obnoxiously loud. A frown immediately appeared on his face as he made his way over to the bar in the back. It was just after midnight, there weren't as many people left. Peeta smiled to himself as he made his way over to bar, pulling up a stool, maybe he could indulge in the closest thing to a quiet night in a week.

"Can I get a beer?" he asked, staring at the rings and beer stained coasters along the bar. Without paying attention, a frosted amber bottle appeared in front of him. He smiled slightly, "And a whisky." His mind involuntarily turned to Cato as he waited for his drink and started on his beer. Quick flashes played in his mind. Cato placing kisses on his bare back, using his tongue to trace a line, stealing a kiss over the counter at the bakery - when he was sure no one was watching, laying his own head in Cato's lap as they shared a bottle of whisky on top of the water tower at 3am. His laugh. His touch. His smell. His eyes…

"Fuck him," he mumbled, channelling the full force of his fury to the palm of his hand. He squeezed the amber bottle so tightly he felt he could probably smash it in his hand.

A small glass half filled with whisky appeared before him, snapping him back to reality. He pulled out the remainder of his cash and set it on the bar, leaving him with enough for one beer. Unfortunately, he wouldn't be able to drink away his pain.

As he brought the bottle to his mouth, Peeta noticed something in the mirror directly opposite him behind the bar. He could almost instantly feel the fear rise in the pit of his stomach as he noticed the older man staring at him through the reflection.

Although he didn't want to admit it to himself, he felt intimidated - for so many reasons, but mainly because the man was staring at him with an intense seriousness that he didn't understand. He certainly hadn't done anything to provoke this. His eyes looked almost black. Peeta was certain this would not lead to anything good. Never one to cower away, he slowly swivelled around in his bar stool, staring daggers through the strange man.

He smirked.

The reaction was slightly surprising, then again, he didn't really know what to make of the whole situation. Peeta couldn't help but admire his features, his mind quickly ran a scan of the man in those few confusing seconds. Thick bronze hair was well sculpted and styled in a seemingly effortless looking way. His arms were well toned. Even in the darkness of the poorly lit bar, his beauty shone. The man rose to his feet and retrieved the jacket from his chair. Within seconds he was gone. Peeta took a deep breath and threw back his glass of whisky, wincing at the feeling of the poison burning his throat. As the intimidation washed away, it was quickly replaced with the craving of nicotine.

Outside, the rain came pouring down harder than it did in the brief time he was inside. As Peeta lit his cigarette, he couldn't help noticing the way the streets and sidewalks covered in water made the reflections of the traffic lights look like the streets were bleeding. He shut his eyes as he remembered Cato kissing him in the rain, in the moonlight, something like panicked, desperate and insatiable. Taking another drag, he reminded himself it was in the past.

"Can I bum one of those?" an unfamiliar voice asked.

Peeta spun around, already a little anxious and always prone to jumping at an unexpected sound. He turned to see the handsome stranger who he'd caught the attention of, only moments ago. He gaped for a second, still finding him intimidating, but quickly relaxed when the man let out a chuckle. "Sure," he said, reaching his arm out to offer a cigarette and lighter from the red packet, while attempting an indifferent shrug to compose himself.

The man lit up and took a drag, nodding politely before letting out a laugh, "Sorry. I didn't mean to creep you out."

The comment made Peeta smile, so did the beer which finally started to kick in. "What's your name?"

"Finnick," he said simply.

"Peeta," he replied with a nod as he reached his hand out in greeting. "Why were you looking at me?"

The man smiled a little wider, "I was wondering what a kid like you was doing in a shit hole like this."

His attention remained firmly on Peeta as if he was studying his every action and reaction in an attempt to figure him out. Why? Peeta had no idea.

"Did you just get your ass kicked?" The older man asked with a cocky smirk.

"Don't let the appearance fool you," Peeta replied, "I just needed a strong drink."

"Well…" He took one last drag of his cigarette before flicking it into the rain, "I'm buying, if you're interested."

Peeta couldn't help but wonder if Finnick knew he was underage as the man returned to the table, setting down two glasses on each side and placing a large bottle of scotch in the centre.

"It's wet as Nam out there." He nodded at the window. Finnick turned to observe the rain pouring even harder, if it were even possible.

"It's just rain," Finnick said with a shrug. He reached forward to fill up Peeta's glass. "Try being without it for months at a time."

"Thanks," he said as the older man slid the glass into his hands. "Where did it stop raining for months?"

"Iraq," he replied, filling his own glass.

Peeta was surprised. "You're a soldier?"

"Not anymore," Finnick replied with a tilt of his glass, "I came back six months ago. It's really not as exciting as it looks on TV."

"Too bad," Peeta said, he took another sip of the scotch. It wasn't what he was used to. Richer and stronger, he could tell it was more expensive than the swill he could usually afford. He looked into Finnick's eyes and noted how his bronze hair brought out his green eyes. "So what do you do now?"

Finnick smiled slyly and leaned back in his seat, "Now? You might call me a humble fisherman who sells IT equipment to earn an income."

The younger man refilled his glass himself, "I guess bringing democracy to a foreign country really isn't that exciting."

"There's more to the story than that. Maybe I'll tell you some time." Finnick sat up and leaned in. His hand wrapped around the neck of the bottle while his other hand started ripping at the label. "Please don't tell me I just bought booze for a high school senior."

Peeta snorted into his glass, "No, man. I'm not that young."

"I gather you're still underage though. You got your free drink," Finnick said with a wink and a false look of remorse, pulling the bottle back to his side of the table. "What do you do?"

Peeta didn't like talking about himself, especially to strangers. Everytime he'd let someone into his life it was almost like they didn't like what they saw and decided to leave. But Finnick didn't ask about his dead parents, or the brother who was once his best friend and now his sworn enemy. He didn't ask about the love who broke his heart. He asked what he did, and what he did was bake. He had the best job in the world.

"Have you ever been to Abernathy Bakery? Over on Perry street?" he asked, hearing his own voice grow a little louder.

Finnick was quiet for a moment and looked up at the ceiling as if he was really trying to place this location in his head. He snapped back and smiled, "The place on the corner?"

He shot a pretend gun with his thumb and index finger, "I'm a baker there. Have you ever been?"

"Can't say that I have," Finnick says as he fills the two glasses again, "But I'll be sure to check it out some time."

Peeta smiled, "Try the sunflower triangles with nuts. They're my specialty." He could hear the lilt in his voice which only occurred when he spoke about something that really made him happy. "Not to brag, but I make pretty badass pastries too."

Finnick couldn't help but let out a laugh at that.

The rain had slowed into a drizzle an hour later when the two finally emerged, both pretty buzzed.

"Let me get you a taxi," Finnick said, fishing through his jacket and retrieving his phone.

Peeta didn't want the man to call him a taxi, he wanted to go home with him. That's what he thought the night was leading to anyway. Feeling rejected, he shook his head, "No, it's okay. I can walk, it's not too far." He could only hope his disappointment wouldn't register.

Even though he knew it wasn't leading anywhere, he didn't want this to be the last time he saw the man. The entire night had been almost therapeutic because ever since Finnick started talking to him he'd been able to turn his brain off for an hour and stop thinking about all the crap that was really starting to take a toll.

He sucked in a big breath, "I want to do this again," Peeta blurted, feeling the shame burn his face as the desperation in his voice started to replay in his mind.

Finnick looked at him for a second, "Yeah, sure," he replied with a simple shrug, as if it didn't mean as much, almost as if another encounter was a given and he didn't understand why the younger man was making such a big deal out of it. "I had a good time."

"Me too," he said, almost swooning. He caught himself in time before Finnick noticed. "Thanks for the drinks."

"Thanks for the cigarette," Finnick added as he dialled a taxi. As he gave his name and the address to the operated, he surprised the younger man by casually reaching into his jacket and retrieving the packet of cigarettes. Peeta smiled at the contact and the boldness that went with it. "You're sure you can make it back on your own?"

Peeta nodded silently, "Do you want me to wait with you?"

The man shot him a shit-eating grin, "Why? You worried about me?"

"Totally," he answered as obnoxiously as possible. He lit a cigarette and his mind wandered back to the conversation they had earlier. "Why did you leave the service?"

Finnick closed his eyes and smiled with a nod, knowing the question would raise itself sooner or later, especially given how inquisitive the boy appeared to be. "I took two slugs to the back and almost bled out," he replied as if his experience was the most casual thing in the world, "I figured 25 was too young to die, so when they gave me the chance to go home, I did."

"That sucks." Peeta grasped for words, clearly unknowing what exactly to say to a comment like that. "You're better off though."

Finnick shot him a smile and let him off the hook. "Something like that."

They stood in silence for a second and finished their cigarettes. Peeta took it as his queue to leave. "I better take off. You've got my number right?"

"You put it in my phone, remember?," he said, taking a step closer.

Peeta let out a nervous laugh and reminded himself not to jump to conclusions as he the older man's lips inched closer. His nostrils suddenly filled with the mixed scent of his cologne and the smell of cigarettes and scotch on his breath. His own hand instinctively travelled up to cup the man's jaw as their lips hovered apart.

"You know I'm seven years older than you right?" Finnick muttered. The tips of their noses touched, his forehead resting on Peeta's.

"I don't care," Peeta replied, letting out a hushed gasp when the man pressed his whole body into his own, revealing his heated hardness and rolling his body against it.

"I can tell," Finnick chuckled.

Their lips touched for a few seconds before Peeta's hand fisted the man's jacket and pulled him in closer. As the younger man did what he was supposed to, opened his mouth and wait for a tongue to enter his mouth, Finnick pushed away. Peeta immediately noticed the bright headlights of the taxi beaming on them and breaking the first kiss he'd had in over a month - he wasn't even sure he'd consider those few seconds a kiss.

"Goodnight, Peeta." Finnick ran a hand through his hair and chuckled at the missed opportunity. "I guess we'll try this again sometime."

Embarrassment set in almost immediately, not being helped by the way Finnick chuckled, but he managed a smile and a quick wave of his hand before he made his way into the darkness and tried his best to remember those few seconds he could taste the man's lips. His heart raced, and he couldn't help but wonder if Finnick's was racing too.