Summary: When Katniss agrees to go to a party with her friends, she isn't expecting for some drunk guy to spill his drink on her and completely ruin her shirt. Nor is she expecting to run into her ex-boyfriend and long ago best friend Gale Hawthorne and share a long-awaited heart-to-heart with him. She especially isn't expecting to run into Peeta Mellark, the boy she had a huge crush on in high school. Of course, she has to deal with all of these surprises because really, what's a good night out without a few unexpected twists and turns?
Disclaimer: Because apparently some people may think I actually am Suzanne Collins? Or that I own the Hunger Games? Both of these things are inaccurate. I am just a poor, socially inept college student who likes to put another author's fictional characters in circumstances the author (namely Suzanne Collins) would never put them in.
Author's Note: This is the first thing I've written in quite some time, so I'm a bit rusty. Also, I was a bit eager to post it, so I rushed through editing it (which could be a big mistake), so please if you see any glaring grammatical or continuity errors, feel free to point them out.
Also, with the difficulties that this site has been giving everyone, I have created a tumblr for my writing. I've already uploaded this story on there (even though there's absolutely no risk of this being removed here). So you guys should go follow me at ilikewatchingyousleep(ledot)tumblr(ledot)com
Okay, enough of that! Read on :)
"Some drunk idiot spilled his drink all over me!" Katniss Everdeen exclaimed, running her fingers under the hem of her black tank top and pulling the wet material a couple inches from her skin as she dropped heavily into the seat between Madge Undersee and Delly Cartwright at Finnick Odair's kitchen table. The entire front of her shirt was soaking wet and reeked of Jack Daniels all because she had allowed her friends to talk her into going to a stupid party. Delly giggled as she nursed what must have been her fourth drink of the night and Katniss glowered at her, remembering just why Delly was not her favorite friend. Madge, on the other hand, looked appropriately scandalized as she plucked a few napkins from the dispenser on the table and handed them to Katniss, who sighed and accepted them gratefully.
"Was he a dumb perv trying to start his own wet T-shirt contest?" Madge asked, making an annoyed face and Katniss rolled her eyes as she dabbed at her sopping wet shirt with the bundle of napkins.
"I actually think he was just drunk and had no idea what was going on," said Annie Cresta, their friend and the girlfriend of the host of this fine party, as she leaned against the counter behind Katniss, who glanced at her over her shoulder. "He didn't even try to see the twins. Just slurred out an apology and went back for a refill."
"Yeah, well, maybe he didn't look, but his dumb friends were definitely trying to sneak a peek," Katniss grumbled before groaning and tossing the napkins onto the table and trying to pick off the wet pieces of shredded napkin that were now stuck to the front of her shirt. "Great, now I smell like a liquor store, I'm all sticky and I look like I just rolled in… feathers… or some other white crap."
"Why were you by the drinks anyway?" Delly asked cheerily. "I thought you weren't going to drink tonight."
"I'm not," Katniss scowled and then sighed as she caught Delly's hurt expression. Cheerful, happy, sweet Delly Cartwright couldn't fathom why Katniss was never giddy the way she was and took it especially hard when she found herself on the receiving end of one of Katniss' many glares and scowls. "I wasn't by the drinks. I went to the bathroom and then I ran into Annie and Finnick and the three of us were talking about Trinket's class and then Gale came up to talk to Finnick and I made a break for it and then some idiot plowed right into me!"
"Oh, Gale's here?" Madge asked a little too casually. Katniss arched an eyebrow at her friend, who continued speaking quickly. "What a jerk. He knew you were coming, he should have given you your space."
Katniss rolled her eyes and glanced towards the doorway. She could just barely see the back of Gale's head in the crowded living room where he stood talking to a few of his friends. She and Gale Hawthorne had been best friends ever since she could remember. He was two years older than her, so she had idolized him when they were kids. As they had grown into their teens, Katniss had begun to wonder if she might actually have feelings for him. After a few months of stumbling and stuttering and making a fool of herself in front of him because she couldn't figure out what she was feeling, she had realized that he was just her best friend, practically a brother to her and had stopped being so awkward. Then he had gone away to college and when she had followed him two years later, she'd begun to wonder if maybe he had feelings for her now. He'd asked her out at the beginning of her sophomore year of college and, not wanting to ruin anything, she had accepted.
Their relationship was intense, which she should have anticipated, seeing as she and Gale were so alike; intense, driven, proud, hot-tempered and self-sufficient, but the flames she hadn't thought she would feel with him had died down rather quickly. She had broken up with him shortly before summer break and had missed him terribly as he avoided her all summer. Now they were back at school and, since they shared the same friends, they kept running into each other. Gale didn't seem to feel awkward around her anymore, but Katniss couldn't help but feel an annoying twinge of guilt every time she saw him walk into a room. He seemed to be over the break up, though, Katniss thought, as she watched him blatantly checking out girl who walked past him wearing a skimpy outfit. If Katniss remembered correctly, the girl's name was Simmer, or Glamour or something ridiculous such as that. As she watched Gale, his eyes flicked up towards her and his grey eyes met her identical ones. Katniss looked away quickly, flustered and hating herself for feeling that way as she played with the balled up, sticky napkins on the table.
"It's not a big deal. I don't mind him being here," Katniss finally said, though she wondered if she was trying to convince her friends or herself and sighed yet again. "I just feel kind of awkward around him now. Ever since we broke up… things just haven't been the same between us. But it's been almost five months, I don't need space. What I need is to get used to being in the same room as him and not feel like I'm a horrible person."
"You're not a horrible person, Katniss," Annie said softly. Katniss glanced back at her, hope flickering in her grey eyes. If sensitive, gentle Annie didn't think Katniss had done anything wrong, then maybe she could stop feeling like crap all the time. "You just didn't feel the way he wanted you to feel. There's nothing wrong with that. It sucks, yeah, and I'm sorry it's awkward between you two now, but you shouldn't feel like a bad person."
"She's right," Madge said as Katniss heaved a loud sigh and looked back towards the living room, but Gale had moved out of her sights. "He's not even upset about the break up anymore, you know. He's just upset that things aren't the same as they were before. He's been trying to talk to you, you know. That's why he keeps showing up everywhere you go."
Katniss looked over at Madge suspiciously as Delly smiled softly and drank her drink and Annie took a few steps away from them as Finnick entered the kitchen. "Weren't you the one who just said he was an asshole for coming?" she said to Madge, who turned a light shade of pink and ducked her head. "Madge, is there something going on with you guys?"
"Who's an asshole?" Finnick said loudly as he walked up to them, his arm slung heavy over Annie's small shoulders, pulling her close into his body. He surveyed the three girls sitting at his kitchen table and narrowed his eyes. "And why are you guys sitting in my kitchen? Most of the party is going on in there."
"We're hipsters. The living room is too mainstream for us," Delly deadpanned, staring at Finnick. Katniss surprised herself as she found herself laughing. Who knew Delly could actually say something funny?
"We're having girl talk," Katniss finally said when Finnick's eyebrows just drew up impossibly high, disappearing into his hairline. She thought most people would probably look a little silly wearing the expression that was currently on Finnick's face – his eyebrows still in his hair, his mouth opened in a small 'o' before he grinned excitedly and jumped up on the counter, pulling Annie so she leaned against the counter between his legs – but Finnick Odair only managed to look as attractive as ever.
"Ah, girl talk, I love this part!" he said as his hands ran softly through Annie's hair, something he did so often that Katniss knew he didn't even realize he was doing it half the time. "Come now, tell Finnick. Who is this asshole of whom we speak?"
"There's no asshole, Finn," Katniss told him.
"Aw, come on. You know I'll kick some ass for you if you need," Finnick said with a pout before grinning mischievously and winking at the girls sitting at the table. "Chicks before dicks, y'all."
Katniss laughed and allowed Finnick to bump his fist against hers as Madge smiled and sipped at her drink slowly, watching somewhat enviously as Annie leaned back against Finnick's chest, turning her face towards him and kissing his neck softly. Delly, on the other hand, cackled loudly, causing the four other occupants of the kitchen to look at her curiously. Seeming embarrassed, Delly reached for her drink again and gulped it down. "I thought it was funny," she said quietly when the drink had disappeared.
"No, but really. Who's the asshole?" Finnick said after a moment.
"Finnick, there is no asshole!" Madge said exasperatedly. "It was an offhand comment, okay? Let it go!"
Finnick looked offended at the reaction that he had gotten from the usually soft-spoken Madge and for a moment, Katniss thought he might argue with her, but Annie placed her hand on his thigh and murmured to him, "Finn, just let it go."
"Fine," he mumbled, twining his fingers with her hand that rested on his leg. He glanced at the table again, looking at Delly's empty cup and the one that Madge was currently nursing. "Not drinking tonight, Kitty?"
"Don't call me that," Katniss growled. Finnick just grinned at her and Katniss forced her shoulders to relax as she shrugged. "Didn't feel like nursing a hangover tomorrow."
"You know, if you drank more you might not be such a lightweight," Finnick commented as he sipped a beer. "Build up a tolerance, yeah?"
"So you're kind of like alcohol huh, Finnick?" Katniss said.
"Delicious? Fun? Good at getting people to loosen up?" Finnick offered with an arched brow.
"I was thinking more along the lines of people get sick of you easily and need to learn how to tolerate you," Katniss said without missing a beat. Finnick gasped, pretending to be shocked as he set his beer down next to him and slapped his hand over his heart.
"That hurt, Kit-Kat!" he said as Madge chuckled quietly and Annie shook her head, amused at the exchange. Delly, on the other hand, had her head resting in her hands on the table, Katniss noticed as she chose to ignore the nickname Finnick was testing out now.
"You alright there, Dell?" Finnick asked, thankfully beating Katniss to it. If she had shown concern for Delly, everyone probably would have stared at her like she had grown three heads. Maybe she should start being kinder to Delly.
"Hmm? Oh, yeah, I'm fine," Delly said as she lifted her head. She didn't look fine, though. Her round face was red and she looked vaguely as if she would be violently ill. Madge shifted slightly as Delly stood up, grasping her cup. Katniss thought she was either preparing herself to catch her friend or dive away from her if she got sick. "I'm just gonna go get a refill."
"Maybe you've had enough?" Annie suggested hesitantly, but Delly shook her head.
"No, I'm not sick from drinking. It's…. it's nothing," she said as she quickly disappeared into the crowded living room.
"I wonder what's wrong," Katniss muttered and then turned to Finnick. "And why is the alcohol in the living room? Most people keep that kind of stuff in the kitchen, you know."
"Because I figured most sane people would be in the living room socializing and not sitting at my kitchen table moping for some reason. Why are you moping, by the way?"
"I'm not moping!" Katniss said, tossing the balled up napkins in Finnick's direction and apologizing when she missed and hit Annie instead.
"She's moping because some dude spilled his drink on her," Madge said and Katniss glared at her.
"I'm not moping!" she repeated.
"Catnip's moping at a party again?" a voice said from the door and Katniss' heart sang. That was the one nickname that only one person was allowed to get away with calling her. She glanced up and smiled shyly at Gale, mentally kicking herself for feeling so dumb around him.
"I'm not moping," she grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest before quickly placing her arms on the table. "I'm uncomfortable and sticky and I want to change my shirt."
She watched from the corner of her eye as Gale greeted everyone in the room and then sat next to her as if nothing had ever happened between them. She was especially interested in the smile that he offered Madge. Katniss couldn't shake the feeling that something was going on between her once best friend and her replacement best friend. A strange feeling bubbled up inside of her – she was both excited and enraged at the prospect of Gale starting a relationship with Madge.
On the one hand, Madge was amazing and Katniss had a sneaking suspicion that her calm, soft, self-contained ways would be beneficial to Gale in a way that she had never been. On the other hand, she couldn't help but feel betrayed that two people who meant so much to her must have been sneaking around behind her back. Okay, so maybe sneaking was too accusatory. But they had obviously been keeping something from her. Or at least Madge had, since Gale hadn't spoken to her since Katniss had broken up with him, and she couldn't ever remember those two talking before or during her relationship with him.
Katniss looked around as someone nudged her shoulder gently and found Gale staring at her, his expression a mixture of concern, nerves and fear. She cocked her head at him curiously and Gale offered her a tight-lipped smile. "I asked if I could talk to you for a second," he said, taking in a shaky breath.
She supposed she shouldn't be surprised that Gale seemed to be as uncomfortable as she felt. He had, after all, ignored her for nearly five months after she had broken his heart. For one sickeningly bitter moment, Katniss considered telling him that no, she would not like to go talk to him just because he had suddenly decided that he didn't want to ignore her anymore. She had been hurt deeply when her best friend had cut her out of her life and she briefly felt that it was mighty self-entitled of him to up and decide that it was time for them to hash it out. Then the moment passed and Katniss felt ashamed at the petty thoughts that had entered her mind. Hadn't she been yearning to stop playing this game with him for months? Hadn't she just been waiting for him to stop hating her? And here he was, all but waving a white flag in surrender and she was entertaining petty thoughts of revenge when he had so obviously been hurting as much as, if not more than, she had been.
"Yeah, sure," she finally said, realizing that she had been silent for far too long and everyone was waiting for her to give Gale her answer. She felt a smile creep onto her face as a relieved grin broke through Gale's nerves and he stood and made his way to the door that led to the small balcony outside Finnick's kitchen, gesturing for her to follow him.
Katniss walked past him through the open door and stood at the edge of the balcony, gazing up at the nighttime sky. The stars sure were beautiful and plentiful. But she wasn't out here to look at the stars, she remembered, turning to see Gale standing by the closed door watching her. He looked nervous. She shivered.
"Are you cold? We could go back inside. I just thought… we might like to be private about this," Gale said quietly and Katniss shook her head.
"I'm fine. What did you want to talk about?"
"Us," Gale said. Katniss stiffened. What did he mean by us? Was it possible that she had misread the signals she had seen between Madge and Gale? Was he not interested in Madge after all? Oh, God. If he wanted to give their relationship another go, Katniss might just die with awkwardness. Didn't he know she wasn't interested in him like that? She hadn't even been interested in him like that when they were going out. When she had mistakenly given herself to him. "I'd like for us to be friends, Katniss."
He used her real name. That was the first thing that registered in her mind. What did that mean? It had been so long since he had spoken to her that Katniss found herself struggling to remember all of the cues she had once known that allowed her to figure out exactly what Gale was thinking. What did it mean when he said her real name?
"Friends?" she repeated once she realized what she said. She felt excitement welling up inside of her as Gale shoved his hands in his jean pockets and nodded, watching her closely. She grinned up at him and all but threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his back. "Yes, I really want for us to be friends too!"
Gale's hands came up around her slowly, resting awkwardly on her waist and Katniss pulled away quickly, realizing that perhaps it was too soon for her to act so affectionately.
"Sorry," she murmured, embarrassed. "I've just… I missed you so much, Gale." Oh, great. She could feel hot tears welling up in her eyes, threatening to spill over. She closed her eyes tight and turned away from him, grabbing onto the railing of the balcony tightly. "You were my best friend. I know I hurt you, Gale, but do you know how hard it was for me? Not to be able to talk to you, the one person that knew everything about me? I missed my best friend."
She felt rather than saw him step up to the railing next to her. Gale took in a deep, shaky breath and she realized again that this was just as hard for him.
"I'm so sorry about that," he murmured. "I knew you didn't mean to hurt me, but… you did. And it wasn't your fault, really. I knew from the beginning that you didn't feel that way for me. It was obvious when we were in high school that your attention went elsewhere in the romance department. It was obvious even when I asked you out that you were really uncomfortable saying yes. I just… I thought you would start to see what I saw. That we were so perfect for each other. We're so alike, you and me, Catnip. I figured we understood each other perfectly and that meant we would be amazing together." Katniss started to object to that line of thinking, but Gale beat her to it. "I mean, it became clear fairly early on that that was not the case. We're too alike to be together in that way. You saw it years ago. I've only recently realized.
"And I wanted to talk to you. I really did. All that summer, I saw you around and I wanted to talk to you and tell you that I understood, but I was hurting, but I couldn't do that because I had ruined it all and I knew that things would never be the same."
Katniss remained silent, waiting for him to finish. The familiarity was quickly coming back and she knew that the best way to deal with an emotional and regretful Gale Hawthorne was to let him get it all off his chest and then decide what the best choice of words would be.
"And then some more time passed and I realized that it didn't hurt so much. And I went on a date, Catnip." Katniss was somewhat shocked to think that Gale, who had actually been heartbroken, had started dating again before she had. Not that she had dated much (or at all) before she had gone out with him. "I mean, it was bad and I knew I wasn't ready to move on just yet. But I was starting to get over you. And that was good.
"And we came back to school and I thought maybe I could do it. I could stand to be around you again. But then I was scared that maybe if I started hanging out with you then I would just fall right back to where I was before, in love with you and you not loving me back. So I stayed away. And then I started talking to this girl who made me think, was I over you? The more we talked, this girl and I, the more I started to like her and I found myself wanting to tell someone. Not just someone, though. I wanted to tell you. I wanted to tell my best friend about a stupid little crush I had.
"So I thought, okay, I can do this. And I started going places I knew you would be. Parties, bars, study sessions. And it was bittersweet seeing you. Sweet because the moment our eyes connected I realized that I was truly over what had happened between us. Bitter because before I had the chance to tell you what I knew, you ran. And then it was you avoiding me and I knew that I was too selfish. I had ruined the best friendship I had ever had.
"But then this girl. She told me that if you were really my best friend, if we were really so close, if we really, truly loved each other… platonically… then I just had to give you some time to see that I was willing… no, more than willing to be your friend again.
"Catnip, I need you in my life. All the shit that happened between us, it was awkward and it hurt and it shouldn't have happened and I know it was mostly my fault, but despite all that, you're still my best friend and I need you. Do you think maybe you might need me that way too?"
Katniss stared up at Gale, wide-eyed. She had never heard him talk so much. Ever. It was disconcerting, but also kind of nice. She smiled and rested her head on his arm fondly. "Duh, you idiot," she said playfully. "Of course I need you. How could you possibly misread that? I mean, I did throw myself into your arms when you said you wanted to be my friend."
"Well, I dunno," Gale said after a moment and Katniss sighed happily when she heard the smile in his voice. She could still detect how he felt even when she couldn't see his face; she hadn't completely lost touch with that part of her that was so close to him. "Girls are complicated."
"Madge isn't so complicated." Katniss pulled away from Gale and looked up at him somewhat warily. She wasn't sure if it was too soon for her to tease him like this. Things certainly weren't the same between them and she doubted if they ever would be, but Gale grinned sheepishly down at her nonetheless.
"How did you know?" he asked.
"Because one second she was calling you an asshole for coming and then she was telling me your feelings on our situation, feelings that she couldn't possibly know if she hadn't heard them straight from your mouth. And then she got testy when Finnick wouldn't stop asking who we were talking about." Katniss told him nonchalantly. She was absolutely giddy. She couldn't remember feeling this much excitement since Delly's sixteenth birthday party… but she wasn't willing to think about that night just yet. "And I'm a girl, so I picked up on the way you two greeted each other," she added as an afterthought.
"How did we greet each other?" Gale asked curiously.
"I don't know," Katniss replied honestly. "There was nothing overtly affectionate about it, but you smiled at her a little longer than you smiled at anyone else. And she couldn't stop watching you. Also, she's watching us now."
Gale followed her gaze to see that Delly had rejoined the table and was drinking again. Finnick had disappeared, but Annie was sitting on Madge's other side. Madge wasn't facing the door straight on, but Katniss saw how her eyes kept flicking in their direction every few seconds. Gale grinned next to her and she knew that he picked up on the slight movement too.
"Think she's jealous?" Katniss questioned.
"Nah," Gale answered. "Probably nervous. She wanted me to tell you… I uhh, I asked her out."
"Asked her out on a date? Or to be your girlfriend?" Katniss asked. It didn't really matter to her either way. She was just happy that she could talk to Gale now. But she did want the point clarified.
"Well, I wasn't very specific about it, I guess," Gale admitted. "But we've been talking a lot lately. And I really like her. We get along well, and we're not too alike…" Katniss snorted. Madge was the complete opposite of her and Gale. "Okay, so our personalities are almost polar opposites. But I think we could work together. I think I want her for a girlfriend."
"I think I want her for your girlfriend too," Katniss said quietly, not missing the excited and relieved smile Gale shot her.
"Really, though?" he asked. "Because we've talked about it and we're agreed. We're your best friends. Or, well, at least she is."
"Gale, you said yourself, regardless of what happened between us, we'll always be best friends," Katniss cut in.
"Alright, fine. We're your best friends," he said happily and then got serious again. "We both care what you think. If you're not okay with Madge and me being more than friends, then we won't."
"That's really considerate of both of you," Katniss said, truly touched at the gesture. "But I honestly do think that you guys would be good together. She's usually so calm, she could probably get you to mellow out some. And you're so high strung, you could probably get her out of her shell more. I want you to go out with her."
"Well, that's really good to hear you say," Gale said and Katniss felt another shiver run through her body. "You are cold. Catnip, you never could lie to me. Why are you so cold?"
"Because my shirt's wet. Some idiot dumped his drink on me," she sighed. She was getting tired of having to explain to people what had happened. She caught the murderous glint in Gale's eyes and hurriedly amended her statement. "On accident. He didn't see me and he turned around when I was hurrying to get away from you and we collided."
The rage visibly left Gale and was replaced with an amused smile as he opened the door to let her back inside. "Ever the graceful one, Miss Everdeen. Running down drunks and coming out of it smelling like a liquor store."
Katniss ignored the insult, too happy to have her friend back to truly care, as Delly, Annie and Madge all turned to look at them. Katniss and Gale exchanged an amused smirk at the false innocent looks on all of their faces. Of course all three of them had been watching Gale and Katniss make up; Madge had just been the least sneaky about it.
"Where'd the host disappear to?" Gale asked.
"Getting another beer," Annie told him. "But he left shortly after you guys went outside, so I don't know what he's doing, actually. Doesn't take that long to get a beer."
"He probably got distracted," Madge said, positively beaming as Gale pressed his lips to the top of her head on his way around the table to sit at the only open chair between Delly and Annie.
"Yeah, knowing Finnick, he probably found a mirror," Katniss quipped, making everyone laugh. She was suddenly aware of someone standing right behind her and sighed when she turned around to find Finnick.
"You know, Katniss, if you were half as beautiful as me, you would understand," he replied, running a hand through his hair as he struck a ridiculous pose. Katniss rolled her eyes and gave him a little shove. He laughed at her and went to stand behind Annie.
"Finnick!" Katniss exclaimed suddenly. The bronze head popped up and green eyes looked back at her quizzically. "This is your apartment!"
"Yes, Katniss, very good. Tomorrow we'll learn shapes and colors," Finnick said sarcastically.
"No, I mean you have clothes here!" Katniss clarified. Finnick nodded his head slowly and Katniss sighed. "As in shirts. Which I can borrow. So I don't have to wear this sticky mess anymore."
"Oh," Finnick said softly, nodding his head. "No, you can't have one of my shirts."
"What! Why not? I thought we were friends!" Katniss pouted.
"Sorry, only my fiancée is allowed to wear my clothes," Finnick said casually. Annie blushed beat red as everyone stopped and stared between her and Finnick.
"What?" Madge squeaked.
"Well, besides me. Obviously," Finnick sighed. "Besides me, only my fiancée is allowed to wear my clothes."
"We got that part, you idiot," Gale growled.
"You said fiancée?" Katniss questioned and Finnick shrugged, grinning down at Annie.
"I was just testing it out."
"But… are you guys…?" Madge trailed off as Annie held out her hand, to show them the sapphire engagement ring on her finger.
"I was going to tell you," she said quietly, glaring playfully up at Finnick, "but this one thought it would be nice to wait until tomorrow when we all go out to dinner. He didn't tell me he changed his mind."
"I couldn't help it," Finnick said, bending down to press his lips to Annie's lovingly. "Sorry, baby."
"I guess I can forgive you," Annie said gently as Finnick pressed his lips to hers again.
"Well, congratulations you guys!" Delly exclaimed. "I'm a lesbian!"
Everyone turned to look at her with surprise etched on their faces as Delly's hand shot up to clamp over her mouth beneath wide, mortified eyes.
"Well… Congratulations to you too, Delly," Katniss said after a moment of silence. Delly turned to look at her. "It's really good to know that you trust us enough to be able to be yourself around us. I know how hard it must have been to tell us that and I want you to know that I appreciate your bravery and your honesty."
Madge eyed Katniss in shock. It wasn't often that Katniss said anything kind to Delly in particular, but Katniss figured that Delly was so worried about acceptance right now that she really had no choice but to be supportive. Besides, there was absolutely nothing wrong with being a lesbian.
"Yeah, Dell, that's cool," Gale said, smiling approvingly at Katniss.
"Of course. We love you. Doesn't matter if you like guys or other girls. We love you," Annie said, reaching across the table to touch the back of Delly's hand gently.
"I like lesbians. They're hot," Finnick offered, ever the comedian. When everyone looked at him exasperatedly, he rolled his eyes. "Seriously, it's great."
Madge just smiled at Delly and reached out to hold her oldest friend's other hand. Delly's eyes began to water and she smiled at everyone around the table.
"Thanks, you guys. I didn't mean to just blurt it out, but I had to tell someone and it just came out," Delly said shakily. "I'm sorry. I really am so happy for you, Finnick, Annie."
Sensing that Delly didn't want to talk about her sexuality anymore, even though she obviously appreciated the support she was getting from her friends, Katniss turned her attention back to Finnick, crossing her arms.
"Now, Finnick Odair, I am going to ask you one more time if I can borrow a shirt from you and you better say yes this time."
"No," Finnick said simply, making Katniss bristle, annoyed. Before she could yell at him, Madge grinned at her and pointed to the living room.
"Why don't you ask him?" she suggested. Katniss glanced around to see who she was talking about and just as she spotted the curly blond hair and recognized the blue eyes hidden beneath it, Delly jumped up excitedly.
"Peeta!" she shouted as Katniss glared at Madge.
Peeta Mellark walked into the kitchen, beer in hand, and barely kept his footing as Delly launched herself into his arms. He laughed as he greeted Delly, the sound causing a strange sensation to erupt in Katniss' belly. She shifted uncomfortably and grabbed the drink that Delly had left sitting on the table. She didn't know or care what the hell was in the cup; all Katniss knew was that there was no way she could deal with Peeta Mellark completely sober and she tipped the cup back, allowing all of the liquid to pour down her throat.
Katniss shuddered as she placed the now empty cup on the table and looked up to see that Gale, Finnick and Annie all looked shocked while Madge just tried her hardest to keep from laughing. Katniss sent another glare her way as Delly came back to the table, pulling Peeta behind her. The blonde girl peered curiously into the cup that definitely was not empty when she had jumped up not even a minute ago and glanced around, her eyes alighting on Katniss, who was blushing furiously now. Delly snickered and Katniss decided that yes, she did hate Delly. Madge was on her list now, too.
"Hey, Finnick. I was looking for you," Peeta spoke from where he stood much too close to Katniss, his voice soft and oh so alluring. "Thanks for inviting me."
"No problem," Finnick said, his eyes flicking between Peeta and Katniss in amusement. "You've met Annie, right? We're engaged."
"Yeah, I've met her. Nice to see you again," Peeta said with an easy smile that made Katniss's stomach do flip flops. "Hey, everyone. Katniss."
Katniss' heart stopped as she smiled up at Peeta, not trusting herself to speak to him. She hadn't seen the boy since high school and she had no idea how Finnick even knew him as she hadn't met Finnick until she'd started college and Peeta definitely went to a different college.
"Glad you're here. Katniss wanted to ask you a question," Finnick said, eyeing Katniss wickedly.
Katniss glared at him, her cheeks burning once again as she shook her head, not looking at Peeta. "No I didn't. He's an idiot. And he's drunk. And stupid. Ignore him."
"Okay?" Peeta said. Katniss groaned to herself. She was so damn awkward! Why did she feel so awkward around Peeta anyway? She doubted he even remembered the night that was so permanently etched in her mind anyway.
"No, ignore what she just said," Finnick said. "She wants your shirt."
"My shirt?" Peeta repeated slowly, glancing at Katniss, who was too busy glaring daggers at the worst friend ever in the history of the world to refute Finnick's statement. "What's wrong with… oh. Why is your shirt all wet?"
"She decided to compete in a wet T-shirt contest," Finnick said. "She won, for what it's worth. Of course, she was the only one competing. But still, a win is a win."
What Katniss wouldn't give to have her bow and arrow with her. Finnick wouldn't be so eager to make fun of her discomfort if he had an arrow pointed at his face. Or one sticking through his heart, for that matter. Katniss looked at Gale pleadingly, begging him to step in and stop this foolishness, but Gale was busy having a silent conversation with Madge. When he looked up and caught Katniss' gaze, all he did was smile at her and shrug.
"I'm sure she would have done well even if there were competitors anyway." Peeta's words shocked Katniss so much that she actually looked up and met his teasing gaze, which was a big mistake. Her cheeks felt on fire and her knees went weak as she backed up to lean against the counter for support.
"I had a drink spilled on me," she mumbled, looking away from him. "I don't actually want your shirt. Finn's just being an ass, as usual."
"Who spilled it?" Peeta asked.
Katniss shrugged. "Some guy I don't know," she said, glancing into the living room. To her surprise, she actually saw the guy who had ruined her shirt. She pointed at him. "That guy."
"Marvel?" Peeta asked.
"You know him?" Katniss asked, surprised. She looked up to see Peeta nodding at her. Her stomach turned over and she wondered if the alcohol she had chugged from Delly's cup was going to make her sick.
"Yeah, he's in my Psych class. He's weird, but harmless," Peeta shrugged. He raised his eyebrow when he caught her blank stare. "You didn't know I transferred here, did you, Katniss?"
"Transferred? N-no," Katniss stammered.
"Yeah," Peeta said. "Decided I was too far from my family. Plus, my dad got sick last winter, so I thought I'd come back closer to home so I could help out with the bakery if they needed."
"Oh," Katniss said. She had no idea Mr. Mellark had gotten sick, but then it might not have been anything serious. But, it had to have been at least kind of serious if it provoked Peeta to come back home. "Is he alright?"
"Yeah, he's fine now," Peeta said, taking a long pull from the beer he was holding. "I just figured, better safe than sorry, yeah?"
"How's your mom?" Katniss blurted out. She really didn't care how Mrs. Mellark was. The woman was evil. When Katniss and Peeta had been friends in elementary and middle school, his mother had been a complete witch whenever Katniss had gone to his house. By the time they had gotten to high school, Katniss had stopped going over there and they had eventually stopped being friends for the most part.
"Same as ever," Peeta said with an amused smirk that made Katniss shiver. His eyes narrowed in concern. "Finnick may have just been being an ass," he said, tossing a teasing smile in Finnick's direction before turning back to Katniss, "but seriously, do you want my shirt?"
Katniss started to shake her head, but Delly suddenly chimed in. "Yes, she would totally appreciate that, Peeta!" Katniss glowered at her, but Delly was already standing up and grabbing onto Peeta's arm, pulling him out of the kitchen as Madge latched onto Katniss and started to follow.
"What? No! Guys, what are you doing?" Katniss protested, her heart hammering as she saw Delly throw a door open. She realized what was going on a moment too late, digging her heels into the carpet, but Madge shoved her into the bathroom and Delly did the same with Peeta before the door slammed.
Katniss' cheeks burned as Peeta looked at her and she wondered what he was thinking. Wordlessly, he turned to stare at the shut door in consternation and Katniss couldn't stop the memory that shoved its way to the forefront of her mind. Suddenly, they were no longer twenty-one and standing in Finnick's tiny guest bathroom, but they were back in high school, barely sixteen years old and had just been shoved into Delly's father's small, dark basement office by their annoying and giggling friends.
Katniss was seething. She couldn't believe the nerve of Delly Cartwright and Madge Undersee. What underhanded, sneaky, conniving bitches. What the hell was Delly doing sending her ex-boyfriend in here with her? They had broken up just this morning! Shouldn't Delly still have some sort of feelings for him or something? And Madge knew that Katniss had been crushing on Peeta Mellark for the longest time. Maybe she thought she was being helpful, forcing her into this cramped space with him to play Seven Minutes in Heaven. More like Seven Minutes of Awkward Silence, Katniss thought as she watched Peeta's back. He was still staring at the door that had just been slammed in their faces.
Great, she thought as he reached out to try to turn the doorknob that didn't budge in his shaking hand, he's so disgusted at the thought of being alone with me that he's trying to bolt.
She quickly looked down as he started to turn to face her. It was so dark in here she could barely see anything, but when she looked up she realized that Peeta had taken several steps towards her and was now standing directly in front of her, his impossibly blue eyes reflecting what little light there was in the room.
"We, um," he started awkwardly, quietly. "I mean, we… don't have to do anything. We can just sit in here. If you want. I won't tell."
His voice was so soft and sweet. And he smelled like cinnamon, she realized. She wondered if he was chewing some Big Red gum or something or if he just smelled that way from working in his parents' bakery.
"I said… If you don't want, we don't have to do anything," he repeated. She heard him the first time, but apparently he had been waiting for some response from her.
"Oh. Um. Right. I…" she stammered. He smelled so good and he was positively radiating heat. She wondered if that, too, was from working with the ovens in the bakery.
"But if you want to, we can," he offered. Was that… hopefulness she heard in his voice? And what was that glint in his eyes? No, there was no way Peeta Mellark actually wanted to kiss her. Again, she realized he was waiting for her to say something when he spoke up. "Do you? Want to?"
"No!" she practically shouted and then cringed when she felt him take a quick step back, the glint immediately disappearing from his eyes. "Wait. I mean. I don't know. I… sure... but no. But if you want to… I… It really doesn't matter to me."
Suddenly, he was back, closer to her than he had been before and his lips were warm, sweet and oh so soft on hers as his hands hung limp at his sides. Then he pulled back and she imagined a deep blush creeping onto his face as he took a deep breath and started to say something.
She didn't let him talk, though, as she wrapped her arms around his neck and crashed her lips back onto his. For a moment, she could feel his surprise which mirrored her own. What the hell was she doing? But then his arms wrapped around her waist, warm and strong and he took a few steps forward, driving her backwards until she ran into an object that must have been Mr. Cartwright's desk. She perched herself on the edge and Peeta stepped up between her legs as his lips moved enthusiastically against hers.
Peeta's hands left her waist after a moment and trailed up her arms. With his right hand, he touched her hair, which she was wearing in her signature braid and with his left hand, he touched her face, lightly brushing his callused fingers along her cheeks. His lips left hers after a moment and he briefly touched a kiss under her ear, then proceeded to kiss her neck when she didn't protest, but rather pulled herself closer to him so their chests were touching.
Was that her imagination or was Peeta practically grinning against her neck? His hand left her hair and rested on her thigh. She knew he was just placing his hand for balance or something like that, but she couldn't stop the sound that escaped her throat. Her cheeks immediately flushed as Peeta froze. His hand moved barely a centimeter higher up her thigh, but he stopped himself, making a fist over her leg as his lips immediately returned to hers.
And then his tongue was prying her lips apart gently and she was opening her mouth and his tongue was inside of her and oh, God, she had kissed a couple of boys before, but never like this. She touched her tongue to his and he groaned quietly into her mouth. Katniss grinned and stroked his tongue more confidently with her own.
He pulled away briefly and then he was nibbling on her bottom lip and she was wrapping her leg around his waist without giving it a second thought and she must have been imagining the hardness pressing against her there. There was no way that Peeta Mellark was getting hard from kissing her.
His hands went back to her waist and gripped her tightly, pulling her closer to him and she was starting to think that just maybe she wasn't imagining the erection pressing against her when the door flew open and she and Peeta sprang apart as light flooded the small room. She glanced shyly at Peeta to see that he was blushing deeply. She imagined that her face was a similar shade of red. Then she was aware of a lot of giggling and she scowled at the two blonde girls that were standing wide-eyed in the doorway, obviously shocked at what they had just witnessed. Katniss jumped off of the desk and shoved her way past Delly and Madge, fleeing from the room and the boy who stood there, staring after her with disappointment covering his face.
They hadn't talked much after that night, she and Peeta, but she had caught him looking at her when he was supposed to be studying sometimes and she had found herself staring at him in class. She kind of regretted not talking to him, now. Who knows what would have happened if they hadn't felt so awkward around each other following the events of that night.
She wondered if Peeta remembered that, watching him closely as he turned around slowly, looking at her with a bemused smile on his face. "Seems they're always shoving us in cramped, isolated spaces, huh?" he said after a moment and Katniss dipped her head. She wasn't sure if she should feel embarrassed or relieved that he remembered what they had done.
"You remember that?" she asked shyly, glancing up at him out of the corner of her eye. She watched as he leaned against the door and crossed his arms over his chest.
"Of course I do," he said. After a moment, he added quietly, "That was the first time I'd done anything like that. It took me months before I had even a day where I didn't think about it."
"Really?" Katniss' head popped up as he pushed himself off of the door and walked over to her. She could see the questioning look in his eyes and could practically hear him asking why she doubted him. "I just thought you would have made out with someone before that. I mean, you were going out with Delly."
"Was I?" he asked, pausing for a moment in thought. Katniss' eyebrows drew together. How did she remember his relationship with Delly more clearly than he did? "Oh, right. We broke up that morning, huh? But we were only together for like a week. We barely even kissed."
"Oh," Katniss said quietly. "I thought it was more serious than that."
"Nah," he said. "We were best friends for years before that, remember? I only asked her out because my mom wanted me to. Neither one of us was really interested, so we broke up right away."
"She's a lesbian, you know." Oh God. Why did she have to go blurting that out? She was about to apologize, to take it back, when she saw that Peeta was nodding. "You knew?"
"Yeah," he said simply, looking at her. He must have seen that she wanted more of an explanation because he shrugged. "We were best friends, Katniss. We stayed close even after we went away to college. I was the first person she told. Didn't realize she had already told you."
"She just told us tonight," Katniss admitted. "I don't know why I mentioned it."
"No worries," he shrugged. "Like I said, I already knew. Now, let's do this, yeah?"
Katniss watched with wide eyes as he started unbuttoning his shirt. She glanced up and blushed to see that he was watching her face, amused. When he had his shirt off, he handed it to her. Katniss had conflicting feelings for the second time of the night when she saw that he was wearing an undershirt. Now she didn't have to work so hard not to stare at him, but she also really wanted to see his bare chest. She remembered a swimming party at Madge's their junior year. He'd had a subtle six pack back then and it looked to her as if he had gained some more muscle mass in the past few years. She really wanted to know if his six pack was more impressive now. She was sure it was.
"Turn around," she said quickly, realizing that she was supposed to be putting on his shirt. He raised a questioning eyebrow. She blushed for about the thousandth time that night and admitted quietly, "I'm not wearing a bra."
Peeta's eyes widened and he turned around quickly with a shaky intake of breath. Katniss eyed his back warily as she quickly peeled off her sticky, smelly shirt and pulled his on over her arms. She glanced around for a second and told Peeta to keep his back turned as she found a washcloth and wet it, wiping her chest in the hopes of getting some of the alcohol off of her skin. She started to button his shirt, telling him he could turn around once she had the first few buttoned.
He looked amused when he turned to see her still buttoning the shirt, but she thought there was something else in his expression as well. Was that… desire? She couldn't be sure. "It's so big on you," he said quietly, reaching out and brushing her hands away gently as he finished buttoning the shirt over her stomach.
Katniss' breathing hitched as she looked up and met his intense gaze. His fingers brushed her flat stomach softly. He was still so warm, Katniss thought as he started to lean into her.
"That night? When we were in Mr. Cartwright's office," Peeta started shakily, "I wanted to ask you out. I was going to, after I kissed you that first time, but then…"
"I attacked you," Katniss supplied the phrase for him, embarrassed at her actions. "I'm sorry."
Peeta shook his head; he was so close to her at this point that his hair brushed her forehead. "I enjoyed it."
Katniss smirked. "Yeah, I noticed," she said quietly.
Peeta laughed, unashamed as he shrugged. "I was going to ask you out afterwards, then, but you left in such a hurry. And then at school on Monday I tried to find you, but… you didn't seem to want to talk to me. So I decided against it."
Katniss was filled with such regret. Peeta was going to ask her out? God, if she had just sucked it up and not been so awkward, who knew where they would be right now?
"I had such a huge crush on you," she whispered. "It was difficult for me to look at you when I thought I had crossed some line."
"I had an insane crush on you too," Peeta admitted. "I used to fantasize about what it would be like to be your boyfriend. To kiss you again."
Katniss had just enough time to draw in a breath before Peeta's lips were on hers, his hands gripping her waist beneath his shirt. She draped her arms over his shoulders and stood on the tips of her toes, pressing herself as close to him as possible. Peeta groaned into her mouth as her breasts pressed against his chest, his fingers ghosting further up under her shirt so he was stroking her over her ribs.
She giggled against Peeta's lips and felt him smile in response as his fingers accidentally tickled her skin. Then it was no longer an accident, but full on tickle assault that had Katniss all but shrieking in laughter and trying to back away from him, but Peeta advanced on her until she was pressed up against the sink. He kissed her again, his tongue brushing against her lips, begging for entry.
Before Katniss could open her mouth to admit him, the bathroom door opened and in walked a very drunk man. She and Peeta both froze as the newcomer walked past them, just barely sparing a glance at them. Katniss recognized him as the same guy who had spilled his drink on her, the one Peeta had called Marvel, before he unzipped his pants and started to relieve himself in front of her.
Katniss squealed quietly and practically ran out of the bathroom, dragging a laughing Peeta along behind her as she made a beeline for the kitchen, where she found Annie sitting on Finnick's lap. Madge and Delly had switched seats so that Madge was sitting next to Gale, who had obviously moved his chair closer to hers. They were all laughing at something. Katniss thought there was a chance they were laughing at Delly and Madge's latest 'Operation Peeniss' mission, as Madge used to call her plans to get Katniss and Peeta together when they were all still in high school, but she couldn't bring herself to be annoyed with them.
Madge glanced up as Katniss and Peeta entered and grinned to see them laughing and holding hands. She quirked an eyebrow at Katniss. "Everything go alright?"
"Yeah, perfect," Katniss said sarcastically. "Except that I was bombarded by a penis."
Katniss didn't miss the way Gale's temper visibly flared – his jaw clenched and his eyes narrowed – or the menacing glare that he sent Peeta's way. She knew, though, that he was in something more akin to protective brother mode than jealous ex-boyfriend mode. Peeta obviously didn't miss the glare either, as he rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"Not mine, you guys," he grumbled.
"No, not his," Katniss laughed. "The same dude that spilled his drink on me. Marvel, apparently. He just walked into the bathroom and started peeing, not even paying attention to the fact that we were already in there! I mean, who does that?"
"A guy who gets so drunk he spills his drink all over a very pretty girl instead of hitting on her?" Delly offered helpfully. Katniss couldn't help but laugh along with everyone else as Finnick came up with a game he very cleverly named 'Guys Who Pee While Katniss is in the Bathroom.'
While Katniss was a little disappointed in herself for unwittingly being the reason that Peeta never got the chance to ask her out in high school, she had to admit, at least to herself, that it was probably for the best. In high school, she barely knew anything about herself, let alone boys or how to be in a relationship. Plus, she knew that high school relationships were notorious for not lasting long once high school ended.
And even if she and Peeta had lasted through high school, Gale would have been a complication at some point down the road. She knew that if she and Gale hadn't given romance a try, some small part of her would have always wondered if she should have given him a shot. And, no matter how small that feeling was, she knew it would have gotten in the way of any relationship she may have been in with Peeta. No, she was happy that she and Peeta had waited until after they were through with high school to give this, whatever it was, a shot.
Katniss glanced at the table. There was Gale, her oldest and dearest friend, laughing and flirting with Madge, her current closest friend and then there was Delly, the sometimes annoying girl that Katniss had to admit, at least to herself, that she was at least somewhat fond of. And then there were her newer friends, Annie and Finnick, who were so desperately in love that Katniss was envious and sometimes felt like she was interrupting a private moment when they so much as looked at each other. And then there was Peeta, who stood with his arm around her shoulders, laughing at whatever stupid thing Finnick was saying now, who had liked her all the while she had liked him and she never knew it. Peeta, who was so warm and strong and sweet and attractive all at the same time that she felt weak in the knees just looking up at him now.
"You okay?" Peeta asked quietly, sensing her gaze on him and looking down at her with a smile.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Katniss answered. "Just thinking. I haven't been so happy in a while. I feel like, for the first time in such a long time, everything is just exactly as it should be."
Peeta smiled warmly and dropped a kiss to the top of her head, turning back to join in on the conversation. Katniss caught Gale's gaze and they grinned at each other, both obviously perfectly content with how the night had turned out.
Yes, Katniss thought, everything is just as it should be.
A/N: So, I realize that there wasn't very much Peeta. In fact, he's in waaaay less than half of this little oneshot. But I started writing this and it kinda turned into a Gale/Katniss friendship drama type story at the beginning, as you can tell. When I was planning it, though, it was going to be something very different from what it turned out to be. More of a comedy type thing, set in a bar, with Katniss being challenged to get a guy to give her his shirt. How it got to this point is a complete mystery, but I'm glad it happened. I am kind of in love with the dynamic of Gale as Katniss' best friend. And Finnick Odair…. Just…. *swoons*
But my favorite part to write was probably the flashback. I like Peeniss high school awkward, steamy fluffiness.
And, no, I'm not exactly a Gale/Madge shipper. I tend to prefer him with Johanna, but for the purpose of this storyline, Gadge worked for me.
Also, lesbian Delly! How exciting, right? Lol I have to say, the lesbian!Delly and the Seven Minutes in Heaven bits were inspired by DustWriter's fantabulous oneshot "You're Just You" which you guys should go read, along with, oh everything else she's posted.
I would also like to add that this is the first thing I have written in over a year, ever since I took a Creative Writing class in college (the teacher kind of ruined fiction writing for me) so I may be a little rusty. But I'm trying to get back into it!
So, thank you all for reading this little ditty (even though it's not actually a ditty, just indulge me, huh) for me! And thank you in advance for any reviews/favorites I may receive. Much appreciation.
And don't forget: ilikewatchingyousleep(ledot)tumblr(ledot)com