Disclaimer: I own nothing.
This takes place during the unwritten time between Catching Fire and Mockingjay. It shows my thoughts on Katniss while she's in her closets and Peeta during his torture. Katniss, in this, is in her closet phase so she's bit of an unreliable narrator. I based her scene here around my other fic Irreparable that follows Prim's point of view of her broken sister in the same scene. It might help see what's going on outside of Katniss's head.
Falling In, Falling Out
And you can tell
By the red in my eyes
And the bruises on my thighs
And the knots in my hair
And the bathtub full of flies
That I'm not right now at all
There I go again
Pretending that I'll fall
Don't call the doctors
They've seen it all before
They'll say just
Let her crash and burn, she'll learn
(The attention just encourages her)
- The Dresden Dolls, Girl Anachronism
It's cool, dark and damp. A cave of darkness amongst the stark white. It's a place where I can stay, completely cut off from the world, and contemplate my losses. My stomach aches, telling me to eat, but I can't. I won't. It was never supposed to be me.
The last time my stomach gnawed at me to this extent he saved me. And, what did I do? Did I save him? No. I let him die. I was selfish. I let the claws grab me. And Haymitch, who the hell does he think he is, saving me instead? I had accepted death.
I want to die.
Light pierces me and someone lets out a squeal. I think it's me but the sound is so far away. It can't be me. Maybe it was him, so far away and yet so near. I open my eyes, adjusting to the light, in hopes of seeing my boy with the bread. But it's not him. I want him so badly to be here, to hold me, to comfort me.
To tell me he's still alive.
Someone touches me and I start screaming. No! No! No one can touch me. My skin is reserved for him. He knows my nightmares. He has the same ones. This person, whose hands are so foreign, needs to leave. I open my mouth and clamp down on his hand, breaking the skin. Bitter blood flows into my mouth.
I thrash as I'm brought into the light. There are three of them, these foreign bodies, all staring at me. I can't see the one holding me but I can see him. He's so close, within my grasp. When I reach, my hand flies right through him. Peeta! Peeta!
"Katniss, stop it!"
Haymitch. I let out a growl, trying to find him. I can't. All I can see are tributes. Cato, Clove, Glimmer, and Marvel. They chase him. Brutus, Enobaria, Chaff, and Seeder. Run, Peeta! They run around us, circling, holding him hostage. It smells like roses and blood.
Stay with me!
"We're going to need to sedate her."
Peeta comes toward me. He smiles and kisses my forehead. I don't deserve him but I'm selfish. I need him. When my eyes grow heavy he smiles and follows me into my dreamland. I am always on the beach and he is there to comfort me. On the Victory Tour, I came to realize I can only sleep in his arms.
I love you, Katniss.
He is the only person who loves me and he loves me more than his own being. He risked his life to save me. That's more than I can say for anyone else. In my dreams I can tell him that I love him back. The words do not get caught in my throat as they do in reality. I can love him in my dreams because he can never be taken away from me. It is a world all our own with no one else but us.
He nuzzles my neck. Trust your nurses.
I follow his directions and I trust the ladies in white. They're always nice. They comfort me when he can't. But when they leave, I'm alone.
I need to find him. The tears start pouring down my face because they have him. He's gone! Where are they hiding him? Where has Haymitch put him? I need to find him. I can't do this without him.
My body drops and I press my cheek to the cool tile floors. On the beach, Peeta gave me a pearl. This reminds me of the surface. Smooth and cool. I need to find my pearl. When I find it, I'll find Peeta. He said he would never leave me. I don't trust anyone but him.
So I start my search for the boy that is no doubt searching for me if he isn't locked up somewhere. I bet they have him in chains. I bet they're whipping him. Something tells me he's dead. Oh, Peeta, I'm so sorry. The tears flow again. I've lost him. I don't know what to do.
I'll drown and then I can be with him.
I've tried to go with him before but they always stop me. I found a knife once. Haymitch screamed at me. Told me to never try that again. I think he was upset. But I want to go. I don't want to do this. I want Peeta. The pills they gave my mother didn't work either. I took all of them and fell asleep to find Peeta. He took me to the meadow, the meadow that like Peeta is gone, and we smiled until the sun came up. But then he was gone and replaced with Gale and white walls and reality and I screamed.
I want to go home and I want Peeta to be there. My feet guide me to the shower in my family's compartment and I lay down. The water will drown me and take me away back to Peeta. He sits on the sink smiling at me, waiting for me. My tears flow harder when I realize it's taking too long.
Peeta, help me die.
Why is he not helping me? Doesn't he want me with him?
Prim. Go away. Leave me alone. I need Peeta to help me get to him. He's not helping me. I can't do this on my own.
She undresses me. What is she doing? She starts scrubbing my hair with soap. I look for Peeta, who smiles at me on the sink. He can see me like this. I don't mind. Come help, Prim, I tell him, but he shakes his head. Prim starts talking to someone, but it's not him. I can only talk to him and I don't even have to move my lips. Peeta knows what I'm thinking.
Peeta disappears. What? Where did he go? I'm lifted in the air and I scream but Gale sits on the bed and rocks me.
"It's okay," he says in my ear. He kisses my temple. "It's going to be okay."
He can't kiss me. That's Peeta's skin. I miss Peeta. I want Peeta. I want to go home.
Gale sets me down and Prim puts clothes on me. She sings and it's so off-key and tuneless that it reminds me of when Peeta would hum after my nightmares. I stare at the wall, pretending her voice is Peeta's, but it's so hard. I hope that when I fall asleep he's there.
She lays me down and smiles. Prim is nice but she shouldn't be taking care of me. It should be Peeta. Gale lays beside me and kisses my forehead. I wail at the touch. Is that why Peeta left? Does he think I'm with Gale? I'm not. Peeta, come back! It's not what you think! Gale needs to stop kissing me. I don't need him like that.
He takes my hand and puts something in it. The pearl! I found it! It's even more beautiful than I remember. I think of Peeta giving it to me. I think of the kiss we shared. I want more, just as I did then. I need him to come back and kiss me. I need him.
"Hey, look what we have. It's Peeta's pearl. Remember he gave it to you?"
I look at Gale and now I'm confused. I thought that when I found the pearl I would find Peeta. I look around for him but he's not here. So I look back at Gale, but it's not Gale. It's Peeta! He looks just as he did on the beach, smelling of salt and sweat, smiling his genuinely beautiful smile.
I want to kiss him but he shakes his head.
Peeta takes my hand and makes me rub the surface of the pearl. It's soft and smooth under my touch. "Yeah, the pearl Peeta gave you on the beach," Gale's voice says somewhere in the distance. "He gave it to you because he loves you and as long as you have it you have his love."
I smile. Peeta still loves me. Even though he left me with Prim before and saw Gale kiss me, he still loves me. I want to open my mouth and tell him that I love him too but the words catch in my throat just as they always do. I'm in reality then. Peeta is here. They saved him! So I smile and hope he can read my emotions on my lips.
"There. See? You have nothing to cry about. Everything is going to be okay," Gale's voice echoes again.
Peeta grins at me.
"Stay with me?" I ask my boy with bread.
His mouth opens. "Sure. Anything, Catnip, if it will make you feel better."
The voice that escapes his mouth isn't his. It's Gale's. I let out a scream. What did they do to him? What's going on? Did Gale hide him somewhere? I need Peeta to come back. I can't do this. I need to go. Prim stopped me from drowning. She would never do that. She wants me to be happy. I throw my head in my hands. I need Peeta.
Peeta, will you come to the hanging tree with me?
"Hey, sweetheart, look at me. Look at me," Haymitch says. He sounds worried. I don't care. Peeta has reappeared and is smiling, nodding over his shoulder. Haymitch keeps yelling at me. "Katniss!"
I need to figure out a way to get there. I'm going to the hanging tree. Peeta will meet me there. My eyes droop and my screams stop. Peeta is waiting for and I can't keep him waiting.
When I open my eyes, we're at the tree. He sits down with his back against it, holding out two pieces of bread. I grin and take one. He goes to bite it, but I shake my head. Not this bread. Instead, I set a small fire and watch as his face illuminates with happiness.
"I want to marry you," I tell him. "For real."
He grins and puts his bread in the fire before holding it out to me. I take a bite. I have never seen Peeta so happy. "I love you so much, Katniss," he says.
I toast the bread in my hand and hold it out to him. He bites down and waits. He waits for me to say what I could never say before I lost him.
"I love you so much, Peeta."
He kisses me. He touches me. I have never felt more alive.
The fire erupts into a fierce white light and I am surrounded by white walls, my mother, and Haymitch. Peeta is gone. Where did he go? We were just together. He was alive and beautiful and so happy. I want to go back. I need to go back to him. A man stands over me and flashes light in my eyes.
"It's okay, Miss Everdeen."
I'm not an Everdeen. Not anymore.
My eyes close. My eyes open. My eyes close. And there's Peeta. He's standing at the base of the tree. The fire is out. The bread is eaten. His shirt is still unbuttoned. I run forward into his arms, pressing kisses to his chest. I don't know how long I have this time until someone takes me away. I need to make this count.
"I love you," he says. "I love you. I love –"
I silence him with a kiss and when I step back I look up at him with the biggest smile I've ever worn. "You are my husband."
He grins. "And you are my wife."
I never want to leave. I repeat the words he said to me the night before the Quell. "I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now, and live in it forever," I whisper.
He doesn't say anything else. He kisses my head and lays me down on the ground.
Call all your friends
And tell them I'm never coming back
Cause this is the end
Pretend that you want it
The damage is done
The police are coming too slow now
I would have died
I would have loved you all my life
You're losing your memory now
You're losing your memory now
You're losing your memory now
You're losing your memory…now
- Ryan Star, Losing Your Memory
She screams and I writhe.
"Peeta, it's not her!"
Johanna has no idea if it's her or not. Snow has her. I know he does. He has her in a cell and is making her scream. He's tormenting her. He's probably murdering her. It sure feels like it. My heart aches. My fingers are bleeding from clawing at the cement floor, trying to get through my shackles. I have to get to her before Snow kills her. It's just not an option not to.
"Katniss!" I scream.
I don't know how long it has been since I've been here, but I've cried so many tears for her that I don't have any left. My voice is hoarse from yelling out to her. There is a guard that stands at the edge of my cell and he stares at me as if I'm some sort of wild animal.
"It's not her!" Johanna yells from the cell over from mine.
But it is her. It sounds like her. And she's in pain. I dig my fingernails into the ground and attempt to drag myself across the surface. It doesn't work. It just rips the nail off my pointer finger.
"Katniss!" My voice is hoarse but I hope she can hear me.
Katniss stops screaming and I lay on my stomach. I don't know whether to be excited or terrified. She has stopped screaming but it could be because they've killed her. No. She's not dead. I would know. She's alive. Tortured. Beaten. Terrified.
The door to my cell opens and two guards come toward me. They drag me, taking the shackles off, and bring me out of my cell. I don't know where they're taking me. No, I do know. They're taking me to Katniss. I'm going to have to watch her being tortured.
I struggle, but I'm too weak to do any damage. The guards strap me to a table, my arms and legs in shackles again. My head is attached to the table so I can't move it. I've been tortured before but this is a new room. However, it is too small for Katniss to be in here as well.
Oh no. They're making her watch.
I start to writhe. "Katniss!" I shout. "Katniss, don't watch!"
Roses and blood. I can't turn my head but I know President Snow is behind me even before I hear him laugh. A grunt escapes my mouth and my adrenaline makes my pulse race. I can see a screen to my side that's connected to wires, which are being placed on my chest by a man in a white coat. The screen starts to display my vital signs. Pulse: 120. Blood pressure: 150/95.
"Mr. Mellark, calm down," Snow says. "I can assure you, your precious Miss Everdeen will not be watching."
My breathing is out of whack. I snort. "You think I believe you?" I hiss.
The table begins to move and I am forced into a sitting position in front of a television screen. I frown as the man in the white coat pokes my elbow. He has a tube in my arm that is attached to a bag of clear fluid. I can barely see it in my peripheral vision.
"Start the venom as soon as the tapes stop," the man in the white coat says to a woman with pink hair standing on my other side.
Venom? Are they going to kill me and make Katniss watch? Damn it! I start trying to get out of the restraints even though I know it's useless. I've lost a lot of my muscle mass and I'm not sure if I could even lift a pound of flour. Too tired to go on, I let my eyes fall to my lap.
I'm so sorry, Katniss.
"Start the tapes," Snow says, coming to take a seat beside me. "Mr. Mellark, I'm sure you'll enjoy these quite a bit."
The television screen lights up and I see Katniss and me in the cave. What is this? I knew that Snow was a sadistic man but making me watch us kissing while I know she's on the other side of a one-way screen somewhere about to watch me die is sick. I transport myself back to the cave, this time knowing that Katniss does love me. How could she not after that kiss on the beach? She had told me everything she needed to without saying anything.
I see her feeding me sleep syrup.
The screen goes dead.
I see the clear liquid go in the tube and into my arm.
Katniss is sitting in front of me with a bowl, holding out a spoon. We're in the cave. "Here, Peeta," she says. Her voice is too sweet. That's not what she said. I struggle, my vision blurred.
"Katniss?" I question.
She smirks and holds out the spoon. "Eat it." A voice in the back of my head says it is poison.
What? No. I…what? She's trying to kill me?
I reach for her but my hand doesn't go to her. It goes to the bowl, knocking it out of her hands and onto the floor. She watches it and then turns to me with a glare. I feel heavy, like I'm not in my own body. It's foreign. She stands up and grabs my face in her hands but she's not going to kiss me. She looks so angry.
"Peeta, you idiot!" she shrieks in a voice eerily similar to my mother's. Her eyes are no longer gray but black. "Peeta!"
I open my eyes and I am in my cell. I am in my shackles. My hands are bandaged. Johanna's voice echoes through the bars. But I'm so confused. Where did those memories come from? Katniss has never tried to kill me. Sure, she didn't love me but she never wanted to kill me. She wanted to die for me in the Quell so I could live. It makes no sense.
"Peeta, it's not her," Johanna says.
I blink and I can hear Katniss screaming for me again. But this time it is more distant. It doesn't sound like she's right in my ear.
"Peeta, what did they do to you?"
My eyes close and I think of the Quell. I hope you have the pearl, Katniss, I think. Don't show it to them. They'll take it from you. Keep that as a memory. Don't let them fool you, Katniss. We're both going to be fine.
I know days go by merely because I get dragged out of my cell once a day. Or, so Snow tells me. They show me images, tapes of the Games and the Quell. I'm so confused. Katniss would never hurt me but she did. She tried to feed me poison. She dropped a tracker jacker nest on me. She shot an arrow at me while Cato held me as a target, only missing by a hair. She lead me straight to the force field.
I come back to my cell and tell myself it's a lie.
Katniss, I love you.
I remember the nights on the train where I would wake up with her in my arms. Sometimes I would wake up after her to her soft fingers playing with my hair or drawing designs on my skin. I hold onto these moments to keep me sane, even when I hear Johanna's screams and another woman crying for Finnick. But are these memories real?
"Peeta, she loves you."
It's so hard. She's so evil and so terrifying in the tapes. She destroyed District Twelve. She killed my family. She killed her own family. Prim. It's so unbelievable that she'd volunteer to die for Prim and then kill her with bombs. But then I realize that Prim dying in the Games wasn't gory enough for her. She had to seem like the hero, saving her little sister so the stupid rebels would like her. Haymitch is such a fool believing her.
I was a fool to believe her.
"Peeta!" she screams.
Johanna shakes her shackles. "Peeta, it's not her."
"I don't care," I hiss. "She's a mutt."
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!