I don't even ship this, but I wrote it anyway. They seem kind of out of character to me, but here it is anyway!

In another life, maybe Madge.

There was a small, sick part of him that wondered if Katniss would have been jealous.

And he knew he should stop thinking like that. He owed Madge a lot, and Madge was Katniss' friend, too. In another life, Madge would be the kind of girl he knew he'd be in love with.

Here she was, grinning insanely in the dark as they snuck under the fence. He suddenly felt a pang of guilt, like she was intruding on something sacred because of him. He realised she was – this place was purely for himself and Katniss. So why had he brought her here?

Because she'd asked him to.

Her smile quickly faded, and she bit her lip, quickly clambering back under the fence before laughing again.

"I'm too chicken, Gale!" she whispered, and he laughed back, following her.

"Knew it," he said, ruffling her blonde hair, his grey Seam eyes looking almost feral in the dark. There was that part of him that had been comparing her to Katniss before. It was back; Katniss was braver. Katniss didn't giggle.

But Katniss wasn't here, and as much as he wanted her to win, to come back and just be Catnip again, he knew how these games worked. Not in her favour, no matter what Effie said every year.

And now, after the interview, and Peeta's show, and the Careers and all those other people who wanted to kill her – she wouldn't be the same Catnip again. Never.

But this would always be the same Madge. She would always have a sense of humour that Katniss never would, and she'd always be so much calmer than Katniss would be. And Madge would always be more responsive to Gale's subtlety.

Madge bumped arms with him as they walked back towards her house. What followed after left him somewhat confused; she stopped by the back door, her sharp face not far from his, golden hair sprayed around her shoulders.

"I know you're worried about Katniss. I am too; she's my friend as well. And I know you're thinking about Katniss. Please, whatever this is, if it's just to convince yourself of something, I want to know. If you don't want to start anything just in case she comes back, I understand. If you want this to be casual, I get it. Just don't leave me in the dark here."

Gale stared at her through the darkness. She was perceptive, too, definitely more so than Katn- no. He had to stop comparing. That was unfair of him.

If he was honest, he didn't really know what he wanted, even though he and Madge had been meeting up for a while now. But that was the good thing about Madge; she wasn't like most other girls; she understood.

"I don't really know what I want, Madge," he said, sounding so pathetic to himself. He knew what she was going to do even before she did it – and it was only one brief kiss, just one, her hand on the door handle. As quickly as it had began, it ended, and she smiled at him once more.

"Just let me know, okay?" she said once more, closing the door behind her.

It was the whole show Katniss put on that made him change his mind. Acting. That was what she would call it; that was what it was. But he felt bad for Peeta. Jealous. But also sorry, somewhere, because Peeta's feelings were so much truer than his own. Maybe. He didn't even know what his feelings were.

He went to Madge the day after the Victory. He told her what he wanted; what he expected, and she told him her own expectations. He supposed whatever they had was passionate, but not the kind of passion that he expected. He thought he might end up loving her, but he didn't, no matter how hard he tried.

She brought those drugs to him, after he'd taken that whipping, and it was then he realised he couldn't keep playing her, because he was. It wasn't fair, not at all, and she understood, God damn it, and he wanted some reaction normal from a girl. So that was when he confessed to kissing Katniss, and she smiled thinly.

"I know, Gale. I figured you had, or would," she replied. "And if I'm being real with you, Gale, I think she loves him. Not you. Or else she'd be with you right now. I don't want to see you get hurt," she murmured, leaning against the backdoor frame, measuring his reaction.

He chewed over these words.

"You don't know that for sure," he stated, turning away as she closed the door. Some part thought so, though, because it was true. In another life, maybe.

He should have turned around. Gone back to Madge. Apologised. Started again. Really tried.

But he just couldn't feel the same way for Madge, he thought. He just couldn't.

When she died – when her house was bombed – that was when he realised there had been some hidden feelings.

He'd watched her house collapse, seen it, and he felt like he could see her body in his mind's eye, smouldering away with the house. Just gone. That was when he realised he had cared. He should have gone back, tried again, and then maybe she wouldn't have been in that house.

And there was this part of him that blamed Katniss – if she'd just been real with him, with herself, maybe he could have tried to move on. He supposed the bombing was at least partially her fault, and he was just so full of rage for the death of everyone that he couldn't think straight.

And Madge, God, Madge. In another life, maybe Madge.

And it was then he realised that the only two people he could ever fathom loving – the word maybe too strong – loving. They were so far away from him, out of his reach.

He was alone. That was when he realised that he was alone in this terrible new war-struck world.