Soli Deo gloria
DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own The Hunger Games. This takes place when Finnick, Gale, Peeta and Katniss are with Squad 451 outside the Capitol when the Real or Not Real game came about. THIS IS NOT SLASH. :)
"All right," Gale sighed. "What do you want to know?" He was in tent he shared with Peeta, and had just been practically shoved in by Leeg 2 and Finnick, both saying that he couldn't be the night watch all the time and had to help with Peeta. Gale had naturally protested, seeing as he did not exactly have the best relationship with Peeta at all. This information didn't seem to faze any of the rest of the squad, who all practically shoved him in so that they could either do their job of catching some shut eye or watching for Capitol people.
Gale set up a pot of tea to boil before he sighed and grabbing a pillow, shoved it under his chest as he settled down on his stomach. He looked up at Peeta, who was sitting in a corner. He looked confused but he kept looking at Gale, not even bothering to look at his hands. Finnick had given Peeta a bit of rope to help him, and the baker's boy had been tying knots as well as he could.
"I don't know," Peeta shrugged before looking down at his hands. His fingers fumbled around and he said, "I mean, I have barely any recollection of things back in Twelve." He looked back to Gale and whispered, "What am I supposed to want to know about?"
Gale let out a breath and said, "Well, do you remember anything about the bakery?" That was the only straw he could think of to grasp. It was one of the few things he could connect with Peeta. Another one of those things were the Games and Katniss, and frankly the Seam teen would rather not bring up painful subjects.
Peeta looked confused at his fingers for a moment before he said, "I frosted cakes at the bakery. Real or not real?"
"Real," Gale said after a second of thinking. "You did frost cakes at the bakery; you were pretty good at it too, considering the wedding cake."
Peeta smiled at his fingers. "Probably not my best work. Real or not real?"
"Not real. I've seen the stuff at that bakery and this was your best," Gale said.
"How do you know?" Peeta wanted to know, looking up from his hands.
Gale shrugged. "Just my opinion."
Peeta looked at him, confused by his answer, before looking back to his rope.
"I had two parents and three brothers, real or not real?"
"Not real. You had a mom and a dad and two brothers. Your mom was a bit of a . . ."—Gale was a little respectful for the dead, even if it was Peeta's mom (of all people, it had to be Peeta's mom, for the love of everything good and decent)—" . . . hard worker. Your dad liked squirrels, he used to buy mine." He quickly shut up about the squirrels. Peeta didn't need to know about everything about him. "Your brothers wrestled at school and worked at the bakery."
"The bakery burned down, real or not real?" Peeta said quickly, not missing a beat.
"Real. The Capitol"—Peeta winced—"bombed it."
"District 12 is gone, real or not real?"
"Real. The Capitol bombed it all except for Victor's Village."
"Okay," Peeta said, taking a deep breath. Gale looked up at him and said, "You alright?"
"No," Peeta said heavily. "Haven't you noticed? I'm homicidal," and he let out a very sarcastic, rueful laugh.
Gale sighed. He knew that, and so that was why he had a gun in his pocket at all times. Even though he knew that Peeta was not after him, he knew that any memory that the Capitol tapped with might come up in the teen's brain about him that might send him on a frenzy. There was a big possibility that the Capitol mixed with memories not only about Katniss but himself as well. Wasn't he recognized as a rebel threat? The Capitol knew about him and Katniss and Peeta and would probably use Peeta against him as well.
"Anything else?" Gale wanted to know, his voice a little harsh.
"I noticed Katniss on the first day of school when we were five. Real or not real?" Peeta said. He looked up from his fingers and looked directly toward Gale.
Gale gulped. Peeta did say that, didn't he? In the cave in the Games. That was real.
"Real," Gale said quietly. "You told everyone in the cave in the . . . Games."
"The cave . . . " Peeta whispered to himself. "Katniss took me to the cave. Real or not real?"
"Real. She did it to save your life from the Careers," Gale said quickly before Peeta got any ideas.
"There was only four Careers by then, real or not real?" Peeta wanted to know.
"Not real. There was three left, two from Two, one from One," Gale said.
"What happened to the others? There's six of them," Peeta pointed out.
"True, there was. But one got killed up front and then two other got killed by tracker jackers," Gale explained. The tea that he had set up in the tent opposite him whistled, and he sat up and poured himself a cup.
"Tracker jackers?" Peeta said quickly. His voice sounded excited and pained. The rope dropped from his hands as his hands went up to his scalp. His hands began to dig into his hair as his body began to move back and forth.
Gale looked from his tea to Peeta and cursed under his breath. Putting down the tea, he hurriedly stood and went over to Peeta,
"Oh, geez, oh sweet . . . ." Gale said, not knowing what to do. Peeta was having one of his episodes, he knew, and he triggered it with the words "tracker jackers." Damn it.
Gale hurriedly tried to think of what to do. He had to have something that he knew would calm down Peeta. Katniss, no, stupid idea. Finnick, no, he himself was on the verge of an emotional breakdown at any time, especially with Annie gone; No Leegs. Jackson, sure, she'd work if he wanted to scare the hell out of Peeta, making things worse. Boggs was busy; Castor and Pollux were not going to be able to help.
Peeta continued with his breakdown, whimpering on occasion, and Gale had no idea what to do. He let a breath as he scanned the room, trying to find something. Wait. Tea. Didn't he have tea sometimes when they were both at the Everdeens?
There was no sugar at the moment. Hopefully the baker's boy liked tea without sugar.
Gale crossed the tent and grabbed the handle to the white, professional mug. He quickly brought it over and bending over, held it out and said loudly, "Peeta, stop. Peeta, it's not real. NOT REAL FOR THE LOVE OF MERCY NOT REAL."
Peeta continued to stammer as suddenly his body became stiff for a minute before he completely lost control of his muscles and nearly fell off of his chair. Gale used his one free arm to make a grab for him and prop him up against the back of the chair.
"Peeta, Peeta, stop it, not real, c'mon," Gale said as he let go of him. Peeta, breathing heavily, was red in the face and trembling head to toe. "Here," Gale said, thrusting the tea toward him, "drink this. It doesn't have sugar, though."
Peeta looked confused as he leaned forward and grab the cup. Still breathing heavily, he looked into the cup and said, "Do I like sugar in my tea? Real or nor real?"
Gale couldn't remember so he just blurted out, "Not real. You like it unsweetened."
"Oh. All right," Peeta said, and he shakily held the cup.
Gale put his hand at the back of his head and let out a breath. "Okay. Okay, let's calm down." He so didn't want to do this anymore. Why couldn't he just grab a gun and patrol and make sure that they didn't get attacked by the Capitol instead of playing a psychological game with Peeta?
"Okay," said Peeta quietly.
Gale let out a breath and went to get himself a cup of tea. He no longer felt like drinking it, but it occupied him and served to be something to do besides standing in awkward silence.
"Yeah, all right," he said softly as he sank onto the pillow he had on the floor. He let out a breath and ran a hand through his hair. The steam rising from the tea reminded him of the both of them: both just waiting to explode and over boil and get excited and yell.
Frankly, Gale was not in the mood to yell and fight with a psycho Peeta who he didn't really like in the first place at eleven o'clock at night.
"Do I do that often?" Peeta said after a minute, staring down at his cup.
"What?" Gale asked, confused. Didn't the guy realize what he did? "Don't you know when you freak out or not?"
"I do, but I don't know how many times I've done it. Sometimes I wonder if I've done it three times in one day or four days. I don't know," Peeta said, staring hard at his tea cup as if it was the reason for his many problems.
Gale licked his lips after a moment and said, "You don't do it a lot. You've done it five, maybe six times since you got here." He sighed and added, "You usually get them when you play with Katniss."
"We talk about a lot of stuff," Peeta said softly. "You know, mostly stuff in the Games and stuff . . . about us."
"Have fun doing that?" Gale couldn't help but spit bitterly, one painful, jealous moment passing over him of Katniss and Peeta talking together.
"No, I don't," Peeta spat just as harshly. "You know, just because I once enjoyed being with Katniss doesn't mean that I like doing it now." He sighed and said harshly, "You don't know what she looks like to me. Every minute with her, I—I feel like at anytime she'll attack me and kill me, and that's not fun."
Gale looked at him, setting down his cup.
Peeta sighed and said, "We—we play this game, and sometimes it helps, but often it just brings back painful memories, either real ones or made up ones from the Capitol. I see them and I can't tell if they're real or not. I don't know what to believe anymore."
They sat there for a few minutes. Gale didn't know what to say to that. He wondered himself now what it must be like to not be able to know what memories are real or not. What if he didn't know that the memories hunting with Katniss or playing with his brothers or working with his mom were real? He looked on to the baker boy, feeling he now officially had no clue what to do.
After a minute, Peeta said, "I just don't know what to do."
Gale sighed. None of them did. About everything with the squad and with Peeta. He was their main problem at their little camp beside the Capitol.
"You can drink your tea," Gale said.
"True," Peeta said, and took a sip. He made a face and said, "I like tea cold. Real or not real?"
"Not real," Gale said, not because he knew that, but because he knew that no one liked tea like that.
"I like tea hot, real or not real?"
"Real. It's the only way anyone drinks it," Gale said.
"I like tea, real or not real?"
Gale shrugged and said, "Real. You liked it well enough when Mrs. Everdeen made it."
"I used to visit the Everdeens, real or not real?"
"Real. You often brought bread and stuff when you came over."
"I baked bread. Real or not real?"
"Real. You were the baker's son; it's what you did."
"Katniss likes bread, real or not real?"
"Real," Gale said, draining his cup. He shrugged as he set his mug down and said, "Her favorite is cheese buns, though."
"I made the cheese buns. Real or not real?" Peeta asked, setting his cup down.
"Real. You brought them over a lot."
"Katniss loved my bread, real or not real?"
"Not real," Gale said softly. Peeta raised his head to look at Gale at this response. "She loves your bread, not loved." With that thought-provoking talk, Gale opened the tent flaps and turning to Finnick, said gruffly, "Your turn. I'm done."
THIS IS A ONE-SHOT, FYI. Their relationship is complex, I gotta tell ya. Anyway, I hope you liked it, and thank you for reading!