After several more hours spent on the training field, with arrows that flew without her normal deftness due to the unsettling scene they'd witness between the two alpha females of the rebellion, they finally called it a day.
"What are you going to do with your day off tomorrow?" Gale asked as they walked behind the rest of the soldiers, apart from them much like they were in the weapons with which the trained. The question made her remember her plans, causing a shiver to run down her spine. She'd promised Prim that she'd speak with Lachrimae concerning getting her involved with the medical group.
Much like Peeta, her little duck was not suited for killing and it wasn't her young age that precluded her from it. In fact, it seemed that the training for such things started at six years old in this district. They practiced with pellet guns, knives and other assorted weaponry that was only really pared down as far as size was concerned, and not lethality. It made her wonder if this was how children in the career districts were treated, if their day-to-day lives consisted of much of the same schedule.
The longer they stayed in this district, the more similarities she saw between here and the place they'd finally escaped. They didn't escape hell and find themselves suddenly in some wonderful utopia. She was pulled from her thoughts when Gale spoke again.
"Katniss? You still with me?"
She turned her head to look at him while they continued to walk. "Yeah." She finally answered. "I just…" she trailed off before looking ahead of them once more, at everyone filing slowly beneath the earth once more, turning in their weapons as they went. "I have to talk to Snow tomorrow."
"About?" He sounded genuinely curious. He always was about Lachrimae and it unnerved her though she tried not to let it show.
"Prim. She wants to help the doctors and nurses. I don't know what they could use her for, maybe just a run-around. Heck, she said she'd change bedclothes. She just wants to help and she's so comfortable doing that sort of work."
Gale nodded. "But you don't want to talk to Rima?"
She pinched her brows together. "Not if I can help it."
"You know, she's not all that…"
"I know, Gale. You've told me before. I know she saved our lives. I was there, remember." That came out more harshly than she might have liked but Gale's constant defense of that woman rubber her the wrong way. She understood what they owed her but she also saw the darkness in that woman that he seemed completely oblivious to. Suddenly, she didn't want to be walking next to the taller man who'd been her best friend for so long. She just wanted to be with someone that understood and she found herself eager to see Peeta once more. If anyone understood how horrific that woman could be, it was the baker.
"Hey, ok, I get it," he said defensively. "She did shitty things you and Peeta. Don't act like I don't know it."
"Then don't act like a few good deeds can erase it."
He didn't respond to that and it soon became clear that they had nothing else to say to one another. So they just filed in after everyone else, checked their bows and their quivers with their remaining arrows before moving into the locker room where they stowed the bits of armor they wore. By the time they'd finished, everyone else had trickled out and the two District 12 hunters were all that was left. Katniss had purposely gone more slowly than needed in the hope that Gale would finish and leave but he seemed to be taking his time as well. When she finally hung up her chest guard and closed her locker, she turned to find him staring at her. Her eyes met his and he broke the silence that had settled over them.
"I'm sorry, Kat."
For her part, she wanted to stay angry with him. It was easier to move about her day if she had someone to be angry with but Gale was like her, uncommonly stubborn.
"I'm serious. I forget sometimes, you know?" He sighed and ran a hand through his hair as he focused on some point on the ceiling for a moment.
"We don't need to talk about her anymore." She tried to end whatever thoughts he was harboring, keep him from saying whatever it was he seemed so intent on getting out.
He looked at her again, an almost hurt expression on his face. She knew it was because she hadn't accepted his apology and just tired to end the conversation instead. What did he want from her? She didn't want to talk about it. Was she supposed to feel guilty about that? Growing angrier but unsure if it was directed at herself or him now, she started to walk toward the door that lay on the other side of him.
"Kat, wait." He stepped in her path and she huffed before trying to sidestep him. She was starting to feel claustrophobic and they weren't even more than one level beneath the surface yet. "Please, done run away from me." She closed her eyes at the growing anxiety she heard in his voice. It matched how she felt.
"Gale," she pleaded but to her consternation, he didn't relent. Instead, he grabbed her and crushed her to him.
"I… shit." She didn't struggle against his hold but she felt the bracelet kiss her arm for the first time in a week and she felt the anxiousness start to bleed from her as the chemicals did their good work. He continued, obviously encouraged by the way she'd relaxed against him. "You don't know what it was like when you volunteered for Prim, watching you walk onto that stage." His grip on her tightened. "I didn't watch the games, I couldn't. I did everything I could to keep my mind away from you but everyday that I came home, my mom would tell me… and then each morning I'd have to disappear again. I'd never known that kind of fear. I know it's shitty of me to say this, like I was having the harder time of it. I know I wasn't… I know but…" He let go of her then and when she looked up at him, she was stunned to see his eyes shining. No tears fell but she'd never seen him so close to it.
She said nothing. She wanted to run away from this, just like he'd begged her not to. She couldn't see him like this. He was Gale, the strong one, the one that always knew what to do, the rock but here he was, on the verge of something she was terrified to even contemplate. He turned slightly away from her then, unable to hold her gaze. She saw the shame in his eyes. He hated weakness and she could only imagine how much he loathed showing it.
"When she approached me, told me what I could do, that I could destroy them. I'm sorry but I never felt more… useful?… powerful?… I don't know. I just felt like, after having been so completely impotent when you were fighting for your life, I could finally do something for you." He turned away from her completely after that, his voice barely a whisper as he spoke his next words. "To show you how much I love you, that I would do anything for you." He took a deep breath. "She let me do that."
Katniss stood there completely frozen.
"I don't like her because of what she is, Katnip. I respect her for what she let me be." She saw his shoulders slump. "And now I can't be with you. I have to see you everyday, get to stand right next to you but…"
Tears may not have fallen from his eyes but they certainly were from hers. "Gale, stop."
He finally turned to look back to her at the sound of her broken voice. He suddenly looked apologetic again. "Fuck. I'm sorry. I'm just making it worse, aren't I? I shouldn't have said any of that. Kat, I'm such an idiot sometimes that I…"
It was too much. Without much thought, Katniss covered the few feet between them and threw herself onto him, wrapping her arms around his neck and crushing her lips to his stiff ones. For a moment, he didn't react and she felt like she was holding onto a statue. That only lasted for a few seconds before his arms wrapped around her and seemed to be trying to pull her smaller body impossibly closer to his larger one.
As his mouth devoured hers, she suddenly found herself pressed up against the smooth metal of the closest bank of lockers. She ran her fingers through his thick hair while his traveled down her sides and then back up under her shirt.
For half a second, she considered that she should stop this but vehemently pushed the idea aside, kissing him more fiercely instead. For his part, he didn't seem to hesitate at all as he pulled her shirt up and off of her, forcing their lips apart. She started on the buttons of his as soon as her arms came back down. She missed his sure movements and whatever amount of trepidation he'd showed her before this all began had melted completely away in the heat of the situation.
By the time she was pushing his shirt off of his shoulders, he was already pushing her pants and underwear off of her hips with his hands before he used a foot to finish the job. His mouth sought hers out once more, his tongue tracing along her lips, begging for permission to taste her. A hand slipped between her thighs and she moaned, letting him in. His tongue slipped into her mouth at the same time as a finger did between her lower lips.
"I will never stop loving you," he rasped out as she started to free him from his trousers. She didn't say anything in return as she stood on one tiptoe and hitched a leg around his hip. He took the hint and leaned down slightly to loop a forearm under her backside and lift her up. He gasped when she gripped him and guided the tip of him to the center of her wet heat.
Uncharacteristically, he paused, panting. "Are you sure?"
She nodded and then kissed him again as he slowly pushed inside of her, hissing when their hips met. He started out slowly and it was driving her insane. She didn't want slow; it wasn't what she needed right now. What she needed was the Gale she'd always known, the dominant presence that could make her lose herself and feel safe, if only for a few minutes.
He forced her to speak for the first time during their coupling. "Faster, Gale. Please." And so he did. The faster and rougher he became, the harder he pressed her into the cold metal behind her, the better she felt. Her fingers clawed down his back, earning her a moaned expletive before he buried his head in her neck, breathing harshly against her oversensitive skin. Soon enough, his harsh breathing turned into grunts and his trusts began to lose their even pace. Then he did something unexpected, something he'd never done before.
"I want you to come too." He groaned out. "Touch yourself, Kat. Come with me." Despite what they were already doing, despite the fact that she'd been recorded doing such things for others to view in the past, his request still caused her to flush at the command but she didn't balk from it. Instead, she slid a hand down between them and did as he asked. It didn't take long before her own breathing became strained, the coil in her stomach tightening almost painfully. She spoke without even meaning to.
"Yes," he hissed and started moving even faster. Then she cried out, the intense feelings washing over her, making every muscle in her body as tight a bow string and making her head pound, her ears filling with a sudden rushing sound. Absently, as she came back to herself, she heard him moan into her shoulder before he stilled altogether.
"I love you so much." He whispered into her neck before showering it with tiny kisses. He was still so sure of himself while she started to doubt herself as the euphoria slowly subsided. She unhooked her legs from around his waist and silently asked to be let down. He obliged but hadn't yet noticed her quickly changing emotions as he leaned down to lazily kiss her. His next words, spoken quietly against her lips, fully pulled her back into reality. "I thought I'd lost you." Her eyes snapped open and her head turned to the side before she stepped off to the side.
"I… I have to get going." She reached down and pulled her other plant leg back over her naked leg, hoisting them up without looking at him.
"Kat?" She hated that she'd made him feel uncertain again but she couldn't be his rock. She wasn't strong enough for that. She couldn't be anyone's rock except Prim's.
"I…" but she couldn't even come up with a good lie, so she just stopped talking as she felt the bracelet medicate her once more. She picked up her shirt and pulled it over her head before rushing out of the room, not even sparing him a backward glance. "I'm sorry." She whispered, knowing that he hadn't heard it. "I'm so sorry." She didn't even know to whom she was apologizing. She just knew that she felt hollow and above all, cruel.
AN: Well then. When I started this chapter, I had no intention of writing any smut between these two. In fact, I hadn't planed for it to be exclusively Katniss and Gale but then as the fingers started typing, the story took on a mind of its own. This was the result. I hope it was enjoyable if not completely angsty… I'm shameless when it comes to angst, sheesh.
ZoeLeRoux: It's so cool that you liked my little comparison. I'd been wanting to use it for a LONG time now. Glad it seemed to pay off. I've fully appreciated how stongly you've encouraged me to keep going. Don't feel embarrassed by it at all. :)
LizaLovesPeeta: Woot, another vote for the alphas comparison! Was it foreshadowing of future events? We'll see. At the moment, it is hard to decide just who the lesser of two evils is between those women. I promise more Petta time in the next chapters. He's been neglected for too long and it's time to see what's going on with him.
jc52185: (44) I'm glad you liked this chapter, it was by far one of my favorites to write. Nothing like doing a big reveal! ((57) My muse is a fickle bitch at the moment but I'll never let her abandon me completely. I'm glad you're enjoying the twist on this world and I hope you continue to.
PurpleGirl93: Thank you! I'm always very happy about in character votes and I'm thrilled whenever someone likes my OCs. I'll continue to try to do the characters justice. Again, thanks!
theaterdiva13: So glad that you are! I'll always try to do so.
jewelpearl: (5) hehe, yeah, I went a little crazy with that part of it. (57) Thank you so much for saying so. I hope I don't dissapoint.