I've been working on this for awhile. And finally, I'm happy enough with it that I'm going to show it. A lot of writers challenge themselves to write the cave scene in Hunger Games as a love scene but by doing that they make Katniss kind of OOC. This is my attempt of keeping her in character.

Yes, it's rated mature for a reason-it is tasteful though. But I wanted to let everyone know a few reasons why I wrote this. Okay, part of it was I wanted to see if I could write it, part of it is I want to show exactly how horrid the Capitol is. What if there had been no feast in the arena? Without help, Peeta would have died. Katniss has already expressed that she didn't want him to die in canon. She didn't want to go home without him. How much would she do to save him? How far would she go to prove to the Capitol that she "loved" him so they would help her save him?

So think of it like this. Katniss has one chance to save Peeta, by making everyone believe she loves him. Don't tell me she's not a good actress though-that's invalid. When she wants to be, she can be-ie drugging Peeta to go to the feast or killing Coin in the end.

So enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own any of this, Suzanna Collins does. There are a few quotes pulled out from canon and put in here to strengthen it and to show where it departs from the story.


And thanks for the nomination and voting for my one shot "Nine Words" on Mockingjay's Pearl Awards!

The news sinks in. Two tributes can win this year. If they're from the same district. Both can live. Both of us can live.

Before I can stop myself, I call out Peeta's name.

"I know what blood poisoning is, Katniss," says Peeta. "Even if my mother isn't a healer."

"You're just going to have to outlast the others, Peeta. They'll cure it back at the Capitol when we win," I say.

But we both know it's a lie. There can't be that much time left for him. I make my excuses to leave the cave, saying that I'll make soup; but, the truth is I feel trapped in there with him. I desperately want to do what I've always done in situations like this—run. I want to leave it to my mother and Prim to deal with, but they aren't here. They aren't here…they're home.

My hands are busy, but my mind is distant from it as I warm the soup with the heat of the rocks. What am I going to do? I can't let him die…I can't let him suffer like that. I can't lose him, like I lost Rue—and this will be even more painful. It'll be long and slow until I'm just alone again. I don't know if I can do it alone, not now that I have someone with me again. They'll all blame me for not bringing him home if I leave here. And I'll blame myself too. If only there was a way to save him…

As if on cue, a parachute floats down from the sky.

My fingers reach for it greedily. I don't know how Haymitch has done it, but he's giving something to me to save Peeta. We still have a chance! We can both still go home. My fingers tear it open reaching for what will save Peeta's life. My heart crashes sickeningly as instead my fingers touch rich red fabric.

I stare at it crestfallen before something strikes me odd about it…It seems familiar. I flip it over in my hands and for a moment it catches the light and shimmers like flames. It's then that I put it together, it's a piece of fabric from my dress from the interviews. Haytmitch is trying to send me another message.

I sit on my heels and try to figure it out. A piece from my interview dress the night I spun like a foolish girl. Swirled like flames…I was trivial, forgettable and then—Peeta! Peeta said that he loved me. He made this whole starcrossed lover's thing up, maybe that's what Haymitch wants. He's telling me that I'm not doing enough. If I play it up then maybe that'll get me what I need to save Peeta.

I tuck the red scrap of material in my boot before taking the soup back to Peeta. I can see the feverish gleam of his eyes as soon as I crawl back in. Peeta refuses to eat and I can see he's much worse than I thought earlier. One touch of his hot skin tells me that his fever is even higher than before and I'm desperate for something, anything that will save him. But what can I do out here?

He moves my hand from his head and brings it to his lips. I see a calculating look on his face as he takes in my expression, "Don't worry." His voice is soft, barely a whisper. "You're going to go home, I promise. I'll make sure you go home." He pauses and his thumb rubs over my lip, "I'm just holding you back—"

I can't take another minute of his words. I press into him and kiss him fiercely in order to make him stop. The hunter in me, the survivalist knows that he is holding me back and yet I can't leave him now when both of us can go home. Because if either of us took the other's life now we'd be pariahs when we returned to District 12. In fact, I know if I was watching I'd loath any tribute who didn't immediately ally with their district partner. And if I left him, it'd be as good as killing him.

He pulls away from me and he tries to speak, but I quiet him again as the words spill out of my mouth without my consent. "Maybe you aren't the only one who…who worries about…what it would be like if…"

I fumble. I'm not as smooth with words as Peeta. And while I was talking, the idea of actually losing Peeta hit me again and I realized how much I don't want him to die. And it's not about the sponsors. And it's not about what will happen back home. And it's not just that I don't' want to be alone. It's him. I do not want to lose the boy with the bread.

But before he says anything, I hear a parachute hit the ground. Crawling toward it, I grab it up and open it to see the contents. There are some clean white bandages and more fever reducers. My heart sinks again, none of this will save him. It'll buy him maybe a few hours if it makes any effect at all. It's like Haymitch is trying to tell me that what I'm doing isn't enough.

My mind floats back to past Victors—to Finnick Odair—to people in love. I'm not giving them enough, that's what Haymitch is trying to tell me. Pure and chaste love isn't enough for the Capitol, no one is believing the depth of my emotions for Peeta. I need to show them.

My mind recoils from the thought of what that means. No chaste kisses, no blushing glances will satiate their corrosive minds. They've see that all before. I know now exactly what Haymitch is trying to tell me. They want me to give myself to him completely—show how vulnerable and in love I am. They want me to prove my love.

But I don't love him. It's not fair to ask that. We've practically been strangers all of our lives. This fabricated tale of love isn't fair for either of us, but if I don't then he'll die and I'll be forced to live with it. I can't let him die. But I can't do that.

"Katniss?" I can hear the worry in his voice. "What's wrong?" I can hear him move, the pain in his voice.

"Bandages," I call hurrying back to him. "And more pills. Haymitch really came through." He smiles warmly at me and pulls me down for a kiss. I want nothing more than to pull away, now that I know what they want—what's required to save Peeta. I owe it to him though. He'll know it means nothing. He'll understand that it's what I have to do to make sure he survives.

I try to tell myself that this is like him giving me the bread. But it's not.

I want to fight against it. I want to say no and disappear. I don't want to think about what my family will think if I do this or what Gale would think. It's too painful to think about, but if I don't…he will die. I will lose the boy with the bread.

I feel myself subconsciously square my shoulders. There is no other choice.

I kneel beside him and I remove the bandage biting back the vomit that rises into my throat. It's worse, so much worse now than earlier it seems. You can smell the putrid smell of it when it's touched by open air. I clean it the best I can, and I hear his muted cries of pain as I pour water over it. I don't even try to lie and say that it's looking better. I'm not fooling anyone. Everyone in all of Panem knows he's dying. And all I want to do is run.

Mercifully, I don't move and I soothe him finally into eating some of the meal that's cooled so much since he refused to eat it. I kiss his brow, I coax him until it's half way gone and he insists I eat the rest. At first I refuse, tell him that he needs it more but finally I give up and eat it when he stands firm on it.

Despite my hunger, I can't even taste the food. My mind is trying to find a way to start this…to figure out how I should progress this believably even if my mind in turn rebels against it. I keep telling myself, you do what you have to to survive, to keep people you care for alive and I think after all we've been through, I can call him my friend. I can do this.

I set the bowl aside and take out the fever reducers to give him, but his hand stops mine. "Keep them Katniss," the sheen of sweat is thick on his forehead. "You might need them later."

"You need them now," I start.

"We both know they're not doing me any good," he rubs his hand alongside of my face and I lean into it almost instinctively.

"Don't say that," I feel my voice break because I know it's true. He wants to protest, but I break him off again. "Please, for me…" I plead and I'm surprised by how easy it is that he takes them now.

The night falls like a blanket over us, and the arena descends into its freezing temperatures until I'm driven into the sleeping bag with Peeta. His body is warm, warm like the bread I'll always remember him for. But it's so unnatural that despite the warmth it gives me I shiver because I know it's only because he's sick. He's slipping away. And I'm afraid that if he shuts his eyes again without medicine that he'll die. I'll wake up to a corpse beside me and no matter if I win or not, I'll never leave the arena. I'll never leave this sleeping bag with the boy I killed because of my pride.

It's that desperation that guilt that causes my lips to latch on to his with a ferocity he doesn't expect or understand. He tries to disengage me, he tries to ask me what's wrong but I can't talk. I can't tell him without telling everyone it's only for the cameras—I just kiss him harder until he stops fighting it.

I maneuver my way on top of him, because I know that he won't have the strength and I kiss him more fiercely until his hands tangle in my hair. I can feel the heat of his fever radiate at me but it feels like more than that as if I can almost taste it. I move my shaking fingers down to the hem of his shirt and pull it up and over quickly. For a moment, he's a tangle of limbs before I descend back to his lips.

I feel the hesitation as his fingers grip my wrists, and he's panting when he pulls me up from him with more strength than I thought he had left. "Stop, Katniss…" His voice is almost a soft plead but by the look in his eyes I know he doesn't want to stop.

"No," I push myself back to him forcefully but he stops me again.

"Katniss," he breathes it out again his resolve almost gone.

"You're leaving me," I choke out and I can feel the awful choking sob coming up in my throat again. I'm embarrassed. Why can't this just be easy? Why is he fighting me? If we don't do this he'll die.

"I'm not," he interrupts.

"You're dying!" The words come out along with that startled cry for a moment, just like the one when I took Prim's place. I try to think of a way to cover this moment of weakness, to make him play along finally. I try to think of things I'd heard my mother say to my father, and I remember what I heard her whisper the day he didn't come home. I repeat it now.

"I can't live without you," his hands loosen my wrists and the look on his face is perfect as though all of this is real. "I wish I could save you," I barely whisper more to him than for anyone else to hear.

I imagine there's a glisten of tears in his eyes, "I've waited so long to hear that Katniss. I almost feel like this is a dream or heaven or something." A smile floats across his face as he pulls my face down to his, "Come to finish me off, sweetheart?"

I answer him with a kiss.

It begins like all the others—soft, tentative, and chaste. His hands grip the back of my head and crush me to him as his tongue touches my lip tentatively. I'm slightly startled by the touch of it, and I inhale sharply opening my mouth. His tongue snakes in and touches mine causing a fierce electric current to shoot through my body like nothing I've ever felt before.

Suddenly the need to be close to him, isn't imaginary as I meld closer to his bare chest. His hands move in my hair, untangling and unleashing my hair down my back. As the tendrils spill down, I feel a faint shiver move over my body which causes a slight moan from him.

I break away, "Did I hurt you?" I furrow my brows together.

"Definitely, didn't hurt," he pulls me closer as he rubs his thumb across my cheek. "Are you sure?"

"Stop asking stupid questions," I shoot back.

His fingers are quick. One moment, they're on my face and the next I'm straddling him and he's pulling the edge of my shirt up slowly. He trails soft kisses from my flat, empty stomach to the edge of my chest. I raise my arms up above me and he slips the shirt over my head quickly, before burying his head between my breasts.

It's an odd sensation, completely and totally intimate but lost in this moment where everyone in all of Panem is watching. It crashed back on me again, I'm doing this to save him. I'm doing this to save him…it's the only way.

His fingers trail up my back, leaving a line of fire in its wake. His fingers touch inexpertly at the clasp of my bra and somehow those shaking hands calm me more than anything. I pull the sleeping bag up around us as he unlooses the last bit of fabric that covers my chest.

I'm mortified that someone might have seen some glimmer of flesh. I'm terrified of what my mother, what Prim…what Gale must think. Gale…what must he think of me now? I'm hurting him, just as I'm saving Peeta. Will I ever be able to explain to him what this all meant? Do I even really understand myself?

I inhale sharply as his lips touch the supple skin. I've never been touched this way before. The sensation of his lips, then his hands, and eventually his tongue tracing light lines over the sensitive area makes me pull his head closer to me. I forget everything and simply want more of this sensation that divides me from having to think about anything.

His hands trail back up to my neck, and I realize that the faint sounds I've heard are me and not him. It seems that I can't stop myself from moaning whenever his flesh glides across mine.

I open my eyes to look down into his blue ones, the sweat making my hair stick to my skin. "God, you're beautiful," he kisses the edge of my jaw and pulls me down beside him. His fingers slide in to the front of my pants, carefully unbuttoning the top button and then unzipping them as his hands slide back over to my hips. The heat that spreads everywhere is hard to process. The way there's this light tingling like someone is pulling strings down in the pit of my stomach—I don't know if it's pleasant or not. All I know is that it hurts so good.

His hands slide down the sides of my pants, and grip my hips. He pushes my pants down until I kick them off in the bottom of the sleeping bag. He focuses on me as my mind starts to waiver. My mind goes into ecstasy…into forgetful territory before slamming back painfully in to the fact that I'm about to have sex on live television in an attempt to save someone's life.

I bury my face in his neck, more to hide myself—more to go on than in any act of compassion or lust. My hands, that have never shook when they notched an arrow, are shaking as I unbutton and unzip his pants with haste. I can feel the hot tinge of my skin as I feel him up against me. I can feel his heat, the hot blood to the surface of him that wants me.

I yank his pants down quickly and his boxers as I bury my face in his chest. His fingers glide to my underwear, and I squirm as he pulls them off much more tenderly than I did his. There's a tingling that floats wherever his hands are now, and a feeling kind of like fluttering butterflies in my stomach. There's nothing between us but skin.

He pulls my face from his chest and he looks down at me with such love and adoration, I wonder how he can pretend so well? My face is flushed as I look up at him, and once again I realize that the unnatural heat between us isn't probably because of the lack of the clothes but because of the height of his fever.

His hand trails down my body and even though I know what he intends, I dig my fingernails into his shoulder as fingers move inside of me. I want to cry out, first in pain and then in something else entirely. It's a kind of building fire that buds in my chest that spreads out to every inch of my being until I feel like something about to break or explode or implode or something.

I wrap a leg around him causing him to jerk from me in pain as my leg hits his bandaged thigh. He pulls away from me, and I feel a little empty as he draws away for a moment. All that heat and fire building in me falls into embers—I realize that I want it back whatever that feeling was—I want it.

"I'm sorry," I say. The words seem stupid on my lips as I see the pain on his face mixed with something else. "I didn't mean—"

"It's fine," he cups his hand back to my face and stares into my eyes.

I can't stand this lack of movement, I can't stand the fact that I'm laying her completely devoid of anything between he and I. For once in my life, I'm completely and utterly exposed to someone. I want to curl into a ball and stop this, I want to stop what's happening on some level—but I want to carry on. I tell myself that it's only because I want to save him.

I can't stand the way he continues to look at me, so I lean in and kiss him deeper and deeper until I pull myself on top of him. The rain is crashing down outside and the chill air enters the cave and cools the sweat on my body. I'm looking down at him as my hand glides down to touch him.

I can't take another minute of this—waiting of this playing up the cameras right now.

I slide lower in the sleeping bag until my face hovers inches above his. My hand guides him, as he wraps his arms around my waist lightly. The way he holds me feels secure and also a little possessive. My hand pauses and I want to say something, the words stumble at my lips. I want to tell him that I've never done this—that—

He leans up to me, "I know." He says it so softly as he leans his forward against mine. "Me too," he finishes.

I let him help my shaking hand. I bite into my lip as we connect, and he brings my body down gently to him and he kisses me until whatever pain occurred had moved from my mind. His lips were more frenzied at mine and I find myself responding in a way I haven't before. It feels like even though we're connected it's not enough at all.

I don't realize at first that he's pushing in to me or that I'm pushing back. One of his hands is firmly pressed against the dent in my back, pressing me closer and causing the parts of our body that are most connected to increase in friction and heat. My body glides slightly against his, in a slow rhythm. There's something about the way that he says my name that does something strange to me. It kind of compels my tired muscles on—and then I feel that thing again. I feel the knot of heat starting in my chest and threading its way throughout my body as it feeds off of our closeness.

I wonder dimly if having sex always feels like this? Or is it just because it's between Peeta and I? I don't know. I don't understand. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't want to save him. I can't lose him and I can't pinpoint why exactly. I cannot go home without him.

The slick sheen of sweat erupts between us as I glide against him over and over. It builds as he says my name with more fervour than before. There's so much heat that it's stifling and yet it's just not enough. The fire that pulled at me before, rips through me now. It burns all over my body and I feel a scream building in the back of my throat. I bury my face into his shoulder to stop it from spilling out. My cries are muffled but they blend with his moans.

Then suddenly, it's all over. I'm laying there against him and I feel warm. I feel safe. His arms are wrapped around me and I can feel him whispering about how he loves me. His fingers brushing at my hair while I'm pushing my face into his chest and gripping him tired. I hope—

There's clattering outside. I pull my shirt on and rush to the edge of the cave and find a white parachute on the ground, already stained brown from the muddy rain. I rush back in and pull open the capsule. Inside of it is a shot of medicine for Peeta.

I can feel my heart racing as I pull it out and show it to him, show him the medicine that will save his life. We uncover his leg and I plunge the needle in, and watch as some of the swelling instantly starts to go down. The livid red streaks start to fade.

He pulls me to him and back in to the sleeping bag. I can feel the tears in my eyes, and I can see the tears in his. "We're going to go home," he says incredously.

"Together," I say just before his lips press into mine. The kiss keeps going instead of ending, it keeps pressing deeper and deeper until even the kisses of before—the sex almost seems to pale in comparision. I feel hungry in a way I never have before. Instead of satisfying me, the kisses have the opposite effect, of making my need greater. I thought I was something of an expert on hunger, but this is an entirely new kind.