A/N: Hello all, my writers block has been intense but somehow I managed to conjure up this chapter and I'm not really sure what to make of it, but I hope you all like it. More info at the end of this chapter.
Wrapping my legs around his torso I pull him close to my body. I like when I'm sitting on the bench because I'm just that tiny bit taller than him, for once I feel superior. It's foolish really, seeing as he knows me inside and out, but we're on an equal ground now, we know that we need each other in the cruellest, sickest way possible. It's unhealthy, the way that we affect each other, that one heated look can turn into my lips wrapped around his cock and his fingers gripping in my hair in mere seconds.
Its mid morning, and now that winters drawing to a close his house feels warmer and warmer each day. Sun is shining down on District 12 today, melting the snow in patches, dissolving it to sleet. But despite the sun, we never open the blinds until both of us are fully clothed. Which, in hindsight, is rare.
Clothes seem not to matter for us; there are no barriers as long as he can't see the tops my legs where the scars by my own hand always cluster. His loathing for my self-harm poisoned our companionship on more than one occasion, I sometimes wonder if he's forgotten the time when it nearly destroyed us.
The silence that fills the space between us is comforting; on many levels its familiar but there's a new layer of acceptance. We both know that we need to be like this, and I think now we've both come to terms with it. Of course it's never spoken of outside the walls of his house, but it's just a mutual acceptance.
I can't make myself stay away, the longest time I spent away from him was two weeks, and we ended up fucking in an alleyway – so I've long abandoned the concept of trying to deny myself what I know I need. I can hardly go through a few hours before I start to crave his touch, feeling the ghost of his presence across my skin, like haunting memory that propels me to do anything as long as I can get back to Haymitch.
Then again, it might have something to do with the fact that foreboding is lurking in my mind constantly, it's slick voice warning me that my world cannot go on like this.
That feeling, I know, has drawn me back to the dark side; to the drugs and the alcohol somehow stopping my rampaging mind for a few beautiful hours. Haymitch has been drawn back with me of course; the magnetism between works like a black hole that pulls both of us deeper and deeper into the turmoil.
It's a mutual understanding that if one of us goes down, the other goes down with them.
And now it's one of those mornings when we both have no hangover, and I attribute that to the morphling seems to cancel out the worst of the effects. I don't exactly remember the night before; we'd been so strung out on the drug that I'd smuggled for both of us. I vaguely remember the feel of Haymitch pinning me down with my hands, hips snapping forward, burying himself inside me as we both ride the high of inebriation and sexual climax.
This morning, we had woken up as if nothing happened. Like we always do. Sometimes I wonder if we're just poisoning each other with our self-destructive behavior, or are we just trying to find a companion to walk the darkness with.
I'm eating more now, and I pretend it's because Peeta is worried about my health. It's not, though, I simply need to eat more to accommodate the copious amounts of sex Haymitch and I now have. It's strange, that I'd do this simply to satiate my sexual desire, not for my actual health. I'd have been perfectly content with wasting away to nothing, if it had not been for Haymitch's silent demand for me to eat something more.
I'm still skeletal, though. I still look like I had when I was a starving girl in the Seam.
For a long time my weakness and frail form has passed easily, mainly because no one in the District dares to question anything the Victors do. Especially not me. I've come to realize that since my breakdown on the anniversary of Prim's death and my outbursts during the rebellion that I am the most feared of us three.
Part of it sickens me, but mostly I'm just happy that people will leave me alone. In actual fact, I don't mind this at all. The further people stay away from me, the easier it is for me to pass between Peeta and Haymitch unnoticed. It's a selfish thought deep down, but I make myself believe it's okay by telling myself that as long as Peeta doesn't know; it's alright.
As for the other two, well, they see Haymitch as a drunken shut in, completely harmless in his own right but still useless and pathetic. And, of course, they see Peeta as an angel; a symbol of survival. He's the village's hopes and dreams come to life, the realization of a dream actually.
After Haymitch the shut in and Peeta the angel comes me, and in the villagers eyes I'm something else entirely. I am Katniss the broken, Katniss the unbalanced. Katniss the dangerous and the deranged, and that I should be avoided at all costs.
It's not the scars on the outside that bothers the men and women who run around this District, it's the scars on the inside that scare them. It's the internal scarring from a life fraught with chaos and trauma, the fact that what I have seen and done can never be erased, that what I did to survive, the person I became in the arena, is the person I am now. And they are terrified that one day I will snap and launch my arrows into their hearts and claim victory over them.
Sometimes I think I will too.
Haymitch has taken to rolling up his sleeves again, baring his burned, scarred, damaged forearms to anyone who cares to look, not that many people do. He's unashamed, and I admire him for that, because it's something I could never do. Some scars, some physical scars, are things that people don't need to know.
Haymitch is the only one who sees me even semi-naked in the light; in fact, I hardly wear pants anymore around him or in his house. I only wear the shirt he knows I love. It's my shirt now, and I know he saves it for me. I know that no other woman is allowed to wear it, and since the night I caught him with Megan or Meagan or Sue, I know that no girl has been in his bed. He'd never tell me that, of course, but I know, we both do.
I sometimes wonder if it bothers him that Peeta shares my bed, then I realize that I don't want to know because that would make it all too real. My reaction to the brunette has so far gone unspoken of, and I highly doubt that will change. I will never say that I'm ashamed of it, but I know that my response betrayed how fragile I am.
Now his hands are toying with the buttons on the shirt, and I feel a tremor of worry in my stomach. The shirt is huge on me, but I like the fact that it hangs low enough to cover most of the horrid scars on my legs.
As I sit on his kitchen counter I slide my hand up his forearm. It's still hard with muscle from the past, the physical memory still as blaringly obvious as the mental, with the horrible scars to match. They're bumpy and white, puckering slightly but old and faded.
I am all the little fractured pieces of a fractured human, combining to make someone that I don't think I can even begin to contemplate, I'm someone I don't know – like a stranger is inhabiting my body. I am no one and everyone all at once. My legs have him firmly in my grasp and seeing as I've long since given up on pretending that I don't need him, I don't care.
Again I catch him staring at my legs, at the cuts and burns that litter the otherwise creamy skin of the tops of my thighs. I can see the end of the most recent ones peaking out from the base of the fabric. A shudder goes through me as I feel his eyes tracing every groove and bump I've ever imprinted in my skin.
We don't talk about it, what I've done to myself; it's an unspoken rule, among many. Haymitch knows I hate myself for it; for everything, for what I've done and for what I'm doing, but he also knows that if I'm triggered I'll do it again. So he says nothing. That is something I know scares him. That fills me with a sick pleasure, to know that I can hold that over him.
I know he fears it more than he hates it, what I've done and what I do to myself. He hasn't fully beheld it all, but his hands have slid over the marks too many times to not notice them; all the jagged scars that almost blend seamlessly with the rest of my injuries. I could probably pass it off if I was ever asked about it, all of them except for this one. The newest ones, the ones that are fresh, pink and red, scabbing against my skin. Standing out as a beacon to my weakness.
I swallow unsteadily and toss the apple core into the nearby bin, I cup his stubbly chin and force his eyes away from my legs before I speak; "something wrong?" it comes out more as an accusation, almost biting in tone but he doesn't even flinch.
His mouth opens, my eyes narrow and so does his as he pulls his face from my hand and his hands grip at my waist a little harder; "everything."
I roll my eyes, still unsteady at his piercing inspection of only the tops of my legs. I wonder for a moment if he's as repulsed by my appearance I look like as I am. If he is, I marvel at the fact that he still wants to touch me at all. I wonder if it's really the curvy, smooth skinned women that used to parade around his house that he really craves, that maybe I'm a substitute.
I feel sick and force back a roll of nausea.
I remember the girl I dragged off him, the one that was a flawless version of me that I couldn't bare to see touching him, I want to scream again.
There's the barest hint of a snarl on his lips as his thumbs yank the fabric up suddenly, a dark shadow passing his face and deepening the creases age has given him. "You did it again." It's not a question, or an accusation; it's a statement. His words are coated with distaste and acid, but I don't recoil as I used to; "evidently."
"Why?" the question burns and sits heavily in my ears. I wonder how to answer this, because it's actually a complex question. It's an intrusion on our unspoken rules, it's an invasion of my mental privacy and Haymitch should know better than anyone that I cannot abide it. My hands flatten on his chest and I push him away, sliding off the bench and stepping passed him, my silence says more than words ever could.
His hand grabs my forearm roughly, stopping my path, "I asked you a question, Katniss."
My entire body stills under his hard grip, ice filling my veins at being manhandled like this, even slightly and adrenalin begins pumping through my being. My eyes flit wildly, searching for something to defend myself, because I am in danger – I don't like being grabbed like this.
I grit my teeth, jaw locking and I yank my arm away from him. Trembling slightly, I refuse to meet his gaze, instead I stare straight ahead and force the words from between my clenched teeth. "Don't try to impose on me, Haymitch. You're not my mentor anymore so don't try to act like it." I make to walk away again, my heart racing as I try to pull my mind from the battle realm inside my head, to draw myself back into reality.
His hand claps onto my shoulder this time, harder, fingers digging into the flesh and I hiss, my voice a low rumble as I clench my fists. A combination of fear and irrational hatred coating my insides; "let go of me."
"Tell me why," he repeats, voice low, biting and his fingers contracting around my shoulder, my muscles flexing underneath his grip, "you promised me that you'd stop all this bullshit."
My hand runs across the bench top, fingertips brush across the hilt of a knife, the cold metal jarring me and sending a macabre sense of security through my body. It's not my bow, but it is a weapon of sorts, it's safety and stability and everything that I am used to, everything that I have missed. My heart rate slows slightly, calmness seeping into my veins. An eerie stillness comes over me and I can't even feel the bruising pressure of his hand on my shoulder.
"Let go of me, Haymitch." My voice is soft, as if I am speaking from the end of a long tunnel, lost and airy, cold.
"Answer me – oof," I don't recall when I rounded on him, or when I lifted the knife to his jugular, but as his back hits the wall and the air rushes from his lungs, I can see his eyes clearly. There's a flash of fear, of age-old pain and of hurt as the ragged edge of the blade pushes into his flesh, a little harder and the metal would puncture his skin. A little harder after that and he'd bleed out.
"Don't touch me," I snarl, my eyes wide and dilated as I try to stop myself from thrusting the blade into his neck. Everything in my being screams threat as the memory of his grip on my shoulder intensifies, polluting my entire body with a white-hot panic that drives me to kill.
Haymitch's hand curls around the wrist that holds the knife, his fingers and palms rough against the fragile bones under my skin and he could snap them in a second. The initial fear fades from his murky eyes, and there's a fondness that creeps into his gaze that only intensifies my hyperawareness.
"Sweetheart," my hand trembles and I press the blade harder against his neck. I can see his pulse throbbing behind the vulnerable skin, a trickle of red runs down.
"Do not touch me," the voice that speaks isn't my own, it's a worn down voice that emanates a wild fear, I'm so used to being feared and avoided that the way he looks at me, like he thinks I'm not to be feared. I am. He should be afraid of me. "Don't condescend to me, don't look at me like I'm just a frightened little girl. I am not. I could kill you right now."
There is a long pause; all I can here is the steady pound of my heartbeat in my throat and the heave of his breathing as he looks at me with eyes that know too much.
"But you won't. You couldn't."
The words thunder through me like a stampede, my whole body shakes as my gaze wavers. The simple phrase feel like a knife to my stomach, ripping through me mercilessly because he knows, he knows. I jolt forward and he flinches, the blade digging into his flesh and more of his blood spills. It's staining his collar now.
My heart thrums loudly in my ears, breathing hard and my eyes wide, who is he that he claims to know what I would do, "Don't presume to know me, Haymitch Abernathy. You know nothing."
His eyes harden, but his grip doesn't tighten on my hand. "I know everything." There is such pity in his gaze, such knowing in his words that what I says isn't true, and it makes me ache, bloodlust churns in my gut and all I want is to tear and rip and destroy everything that lays in my path.
I draw the knife back, a fraction of an inch, ready to push it through his throat, deep, puncture his larynx, drown him in his own life's blood, to stop him from looking at me with a gaze that rips me inside out, just to stop him from knowing – "sweetheart."
I'm shattering. There's a dull thunk as the dull blade lodges itself in the wood of the wall beside Haymitch's head, the force of which I slammed the dull knife into the varnished wood sending a hard vibrations down my arm, jarring my muscles. I stare at him through angry, watering eyes, my lips try to find words, but I can't.
In the pace of a few seconds, my world spins and crashes around me and I can't handle it. My teeth clench, jaw locking and I convulse slightly, wanting nothing more than to make him bleed. I can't. I won't do that. I don't want to think why. My body trembles because I can't control anything anymore. So I run.
I know he's not following me, but that's not why I move so quickly – I pull my socks and shoes on by the door, I grasp my pants in my hands because I need to be out of this house. If I run fast enough, I can outrun my thoughts, I can outrun my anger, my bloodlust – my fear.
I almost fall out the front door, staggering down the steps and mercifully, no one is around to see me crash into the half-melted sleet. When I rise, I can see little red marks in the white snow but I can feel nothing, not the cold or the pain or the slide of the fabric over my bloodied knees as I pull my pants over my legs.
The door slams against the wall, but I don't stop to close it for him, I just take off. Boots crunching on the ground and the still, frigid wind biting at my face, I don't know why I reacted like I did, I don't know why I wanted to hurt him – but I still want to. Maybe that's why I keep running.
My face is numb, my body is numb and I feel nothing as I find myself running towards Peeta's house – warmth and kindness and the freedom of him not knowing anything, not like Haymitch does, that calls to me. I stumble slightly, but I don't fall, my whole body is trembling and my throat aches, but I won't cry. I can't. Tears won't come and I don't want them.
As easily as I crashed out of Haymitch's door, I crash into Peeta's house. He's painting by the window and the sound of the door flying open jars him, a dark streak of brown gliding across the pale surface of whatever he'd been painting, I don't want to look at it. Beauty in a world of pain is all but a lie to me these days, and Peeta is always creating beauty.
"Katniss, what – " his eyes inhale me, and they're suddenly so open and vulnerable and sweet that I want to melt into them, steal his warmth and absorb it into my cold soul, "love, are you okay? What happened?"
I close the door behind me, leaning heavy against the wood and I am panting slightly, my lungs burning from sucking down the frigid air outside, I shake my head once. I'm not okay.
He steps forward slowly, his fingers twitching and I know he wants to run to me and pull me into his arms, try his best to heal me again only to watch me fall apart. Peeta's made that mistake before, and there is a line of thin, white scratches on his shoulder as a testament to where I attacked him after he came at me too close.
I watch his face, so kind, good – he is good. He is beautiful. He stops ten paces from my body, warning distance and his eyes fall all over my body, a frown sliding across his face. But his eyes, such eyes, flayed open and I can see every inch of him. I want to fall into him, delve into all the goodness that fills his core, immerse myself, take it all and turn myself kind and sweet and beautiful. I want everything too much.
I crook one finger, barely a movement. Yes.
A/N Continued: It was actually supposed to be longer, but I've cut a bit off so I can work on, yes, wait for it, Everlark sex. Everyone party hard now, because there's a good chance that it will end up being angsty and soul crushing. It's also a great feeling to know that I finally figured out how I want this to end, seeing as it was supposed to be a one-shot (like 6 chapters ago, oops.)
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