I'm wide awake
And now it's clear to me
That everything you see
Ain't always what it seems
I'm wide awake
Yeah, I was dreaming for so long
"Katniss," Peeta whispers against my neck, his hot breath sending shivers down my spine. I smile as I begin to wake up.
"Hey." I say, dazed slightly. Peeta always has this effect on me. But do I mind? Of course not. I love that he does it to me.
His hand travels down the side of my stomach, resting on my hip. I smirk as I lean back into his chest, turning my head to see him better. His lips touch mine softly as I bring myself to say it to him.
"Peeta?" I ask, suddenly hesitant. He smiles at my nervousness.
"What?" He asks, brushing a piece of hair from my face.
"I know it's been a while, but I'm finally ready." I take a deep breath in. "I'm ready for children." I bite my lip as I try to contain my smile, as he understands what I just said.
His eyes widen for a moment before a blinding smile outstretches across his face, an excited laugh coming out of his mouth. He begins to say something, but it sounds like a cry.
I sit up so quickly that I can't even see. I raise a hand to my forehead as I see Prim along my bed.
"Morning, Katniss!" She squeals, giving me a big smile. She's wearing a sundress that I never thought we'd be able to afford, with gemstones sparkling at the trim every time she moves. I feel sick. I still haven't gotten used to the fact that my sister, Prim, is still alive. I don't feel like I'll ever get used to it.
Days go by and well… it's still wrong. All so wrong. The 'real or not real' game still remains to be played frequently in our household, and my parents never get tired of it. It makes me want to cry; how could I think so hatefully about my mother before? How could I have turned her into this vulnerable, helpless mother who left the world when Dad died?
I snap out of my thoughts as Prim talks again. "Dad says to get ready for school! It'll be your first day back—aren't you excited?"
Shit—I forgot. I try to smile to Prim as I thank her for waking me, and once she leaves the room, my body hits the mattress again. I groan as I think about how school will be so different than before; at least I'll get to see Gale and Madge, and Peeta…
I haven't seen Peeta since, well, my major outbreak. Quite frankly, I'm scared of what he'll say to me when we see each other again, if he says anything. I'm mad at myself for the most part. If I hadn't fallen into a coma, I would've never felt this way about him—or would I? Maybe fate would've put us together in this life, anyways.
But there's only one thing that's on my mind—I have to win Peeta's heart this time. I'll finally get to understand how Peeta felt, trying to win me over.
"I don't think I can do this," I murmur, grabbing the fabric of the car's seat again. Dad looks over at me with a sympathetic smile.
"It'll all go well, Katniss; you've just had too much time to think about today. I promise you, you'll do fine. I've talked to Gale's father over the phone and he says that Gale is more than happy to help you out. And I'm sure Madge will be by your side, too." He pats my knee before urging me to get out of the car.
The high school is different from what we had in my mind. In my mind, well, we didn't really have a school. Work was far more important for the young citizens of District Twelve. But I guess since we all have money, we have time for education here.
I remind myself to keep breathing as I see hundreds of kids inside the school. My eyes nearly bug out as I don't remember one face; student or teacher. Girls are wearing brand new dresses and seem to have all this makeup on their faces—like the Capitol women. Boys are wearing khakis and sandals, talking about things like 'golf' and 'football'. What the hell is that?
Am I enrolled in a preppy school? I look down at my plain, navy blue dress. Dad must've dropped me off at the wrong school…
A bell rings, and I jump. I grab onto the counter at the welcome desk, startled by the noise. It sounds just like District Thirteen's alarm system when we were under attack. No one looks afraid, though. Some groan towards their friends and the crowd slowly dissipates. Suddenly I'm alone in the middle of the hallway.
Someone finds me wandering the halls and before I know it, I'm in an office, waiting for a man to appear. The room is silent, but I actually enjoy it. I haven't had much silence since I've woken up.
"Morning, Miss Everdeen," a voice says from the doorway, but I don't turn to look at him. I freeze in the seat I'm in, and whisper the name under my breath.
"Haymitch," I barely say.
"Principal Abernathy, that is." He corrects me, and my eyes are still wide. He takes his seat at the table.
"You're alive?" I ask him, and his eyebrows furrow in confusion. "And you don't have any alcohol with you?"
"Enough!" He strictly commands, and I shut up. I feel shameful as I remember that he's not my mentor. He's not the drunkard that I remember so well, the one that I actually admired in a way. He's just a principal; that's it.
Once he calms down from my rude questions, he clears his throat. "Now, Katniss, I acknowledge that this is your first day back here. I've gotten some letters from your doctor, as well as guardians saying that you had been in a coma." He leans towards me, and I don't smell any alcohol. It's weird to see him looking… smart for once. "A teacher brought you here because you were wandering the halls. I know, this must be confusing for you, but we are going to do our best to try and help you here."
"It's going to take a lot more than help, Hay—" I look at his blue eyes before correcting myself. "Principal Abernathy."
He smiles at me and I fight the urge to scrunch my nose. "A student has volunteered, actually, to help you. Gale Hawthorne, that is. He's a senior this year, so he has several free classes where he can help you around. He'll be helping you find your classes as well as familiarize you with the school grounds."
I want to say more to him, since I haven't seen him in what feels like so long, but I can't get myself to find the courage. He wouldn't understand anything that I'd be saying to him anyway, since all I've thought about for the past two years is the Hunger Games.
Haymitch, as I'd rather call him, tells me that Gale will be waiting for me in the cafeteria during lunch time. He says it's where students each their lunch, but I don't really understand any purpose for it. The cafeteria is noisy like this morning, but there are tables, as well as chairs, spread around the big room. Many kids are sitting down, chirping about their wonderful days. I want to roll my eyes at how unimportant education is here, but that isn't how this District Twelve is maintained. People here get an education.
I hear murmurs from around the cafeteria as I walk deeper into the room. "Katniss made up this life…" "I hear that she's a psycho now…" "The Hunger Games…" "Was in a coma for God knows how long…" Since when did people start finding out about my problems? I fight the urge to close my ears, close my eyes and just forget that I'm here. It hurts more to remember that all that I used to know isn't real. I'm about to walk out of the cafeteria when I see a blonde head not too far from where I'm standing.
Peeta. My heart beats so fast that I think I'll pass out from seeing him here. He goes to this school, too? Hell, there's only one school here—he has to go here! He's sitting at a table with a bunch of other boys who seem to have the same muscle build that he does; they must all be part of a group. Do they lift weights?
He seems to notice me staring as his blue eyes meet mine. I swear that the world stops and the only thing that matters are him and me. I smile slightly, without knowing it, and his eyes seem to widen. Peeta doesn't return the smile back to me, but instead avoids looking back up at me. I'm about to yell out his name but someone beats me to speaking.
"Katniss!" Gale yells from behind me, and as I turn I can see him standing from a table filled with obnoxious looking boys. Then again, everyone here looks obnoxious to me. When I see him, I put on my best smile.
"Gale!" I say, trying to match his mood. He pulls me into a hug, and I remind myself to breathe again.
"It's so great to see you!" He exclaims, looking me over. It feels awkward to be here, in front of him again. Gale was supposed to have killed my sister as well as thousands with his bomb. He isn't supposed to be here; and I know he wouldn't go to a preppy school, either. Gale's wearing black pants and a nicely ironed shirt. He doesn't match the status quo here, but neither do I.
Maybe that's why we were friends in the first place. We're the outsiders of school.
"Can we go somewhere else?" I ask him as the crowd's volume increases. The sound hurts my head.
Gale notices my discomfort and quickly obliges, leading me outside. We walk towards the forest, but stop about twenty feet before it. Once we sit down, he turns to me, smiling widely.
"So, your dad says that you guys play a game to help you, right?" I nod quickly, avoiding his eyes. He must think it's a stupid idea; that I should believe what I want to. But instead, he takes my hands in his and asks gently, "Do you want to try it with me?"
"You're not usually this nice; real or not real?"
He forces out a laugh but I can see that I've hurt him in a way. I open my mouth to take it back, but he already knows that I'm sorry. "Its fine, Katniss." He reassures. "Well, I like to think I'm usually this nice. I don't like hurting other peoples' feelings, you know? I feel bad when I do."
I nod, staring at something in the distance. This feels too awkward. "Tell me," he quietly says, to the point where I think I don't hear him right.
"Tell me," he states, looking into my eyes. His eyes are so… clear. They don't look like the foggy, gray eyes he had before. There's something about them that I have never seen before; maybe that's the reason all the girls liked him in my… mind. I blink twice as he continues. "What was I like when you were in a coma?"
I swallow loudly. "Are you sure you want to know?" I ask, and he looks confusedly at me.
"It can't be that bad," Gale murmurs, running a hand through his hair. I smile slightly as I see that I'm making him nervous with the question, but then I remind myself about what he was like in my mind.
"Well," I begin, and the words kind of choke up in my throat. "You were… very devoted. You were devoted to keeping your siblings alive, as well as Prim when I wasn't there for her. When you had something in mind, you stuck with it—no exceptions. You hated having people control District Twelve, and you hated the Capitol. You, um…"
"I what?" He asks me cautiously, like one part of him wants to hear it and another doesn't. I try looking at something else, while trying to gain the courage I need, but it doesn't help me.
"You created this… bomb, which, um… which k—killed P…Prim." I hang my head low as I look at my lap. How could I make people act so cruelly in my mind? Am I a monster for thinking this way about people? For making them do such inhumane things?
"Oh," is all that Gale says, and I look up to see that he is looking out at the forest. "Were we friends?" he asks, and I'm guessing that he wants to stop thinking about such horrible things. I nod automatically.
"Yeah; before Peeta and I were—"
"Peeta?" He asks suddenly, and my heart starts to pound. The name slipped out of my mouth. I really don't want someone to remind me of my apparently-not lover. I still can't get the fact out of my mind that he isn't mine—but he will be. I'm gonna make sure of that. "Peeta was there?"
"Uh, yeah." I reply, sniffling. I'm not going to cry. I'm not going to show how weak I am to someone who'll just make fun of me—but he won't. He's not like that. "You defy the Capitol." I blurt out, taking my hands from his and holding my face in my hands.
"What? No, Katniss—I don't defy the Capitol. Katniss," I can feel his hands lightly wrap around my wrists as he tries to reassure me. I flinch slightly as I try to lean back, further away from him. "Katniss," he says to me, sounding more pained than before. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"That's what they all say," I spit out, suddenly angry. "One minute I'm in love with someone and the next minute they don't know who I am! And it's going to be okay anyways? They're not gonna hurt me? I'm already hurt—I'm in hell right now!" I throw the tantrum right at Gale, who still doesn't understand more than half of what I've been through these past two years.
I can tell that he's frightened, but it looks like he's more worried than anything else. He keeps the space between us and once I calm down he says, "Tell me everything."
I'm getting tired of telling everyone this story. I mean, this isn't just a story—this is my life. I'd rather be back in a coma, imagining all that stuff rather than being here, where nobody understands what I'm talking about. It's so frustrating, trying to make people remember something that they've never heard of.
"So, basically, you're supposed to be married to Peeta, your dad and sister are supposed to be dead, your mom and I are supposed to be in another district, and Principal Abernathy is your mentor?"
I grimace as I say, "Yep. And now, everything's different."
"That sucks," he replies, picking at the grass. "Why did I leave? Was it because my job called for it?"
"Partly," I honestly reply. "But, you also did have feelings for me. You just kind of left, though, when you saw Peeta and me…"
Gale lets the information sink in, his eyes widening for a second. "Hmm," he replies, running a hand through his hair again.
We stay quiet for a while before we hear the bell ring again. "Does that bell always go off so much?" I groan, picking up my bag.
Gale chuckles as he gives me a hand. "Yeah; you kind of get used to it, though. It's not as bad as you think it is."
As we get closer to the school, I notice that we're still holding hands. Maybe my confession about us being… 'almost-lovers' got to him in a way. I mean, I knew that he saw me in that way, in my mind, but I could only see him as a friend. Peeta had filled that empty part of me. Peeta. Peeta. Peeta.
"Katniss," Gale says, running a hand through his hair again. We stop walking as I turn to face him.
"What's wrong?" I ask him. Maybe he's afraid of me now, too. Why would anyone want to be seen with the psycho of the District?
"I just—I" he looks at me again, for reassurance, but I don't understand what he wants to say. "You don't remember the past, at all?"
"Only people I remember," I respond. "Memories, not really. Only the ones that were replayed when I was… you know. In a coma."
"Well," he hesitates again, and I squeeze his hand. "Before you fell into… a coma… well,"
"Well?" I ask, becoming impatient.
"Well," he takes a deep breath in and closes his eyes. "We were sort of dating."