Hello there! So while I've been trying to write the next chapter of Landers, I got this idea from watching my favorite TV show, How I Met Your Mother. Ever since I saw a post on Tumblr joking about Peeta telling his kids how he met their mother, I've been wanting to read a fic along those lines, but could never find one. So I decided to write one instead! It's not 100% like the show because I found it difficult to incorporate the past/present/future thing, but I did add similar elements to it that if you're a fan of the show I hope you spot!
I had a blast writing this light piece, and I hope you all enjoy and please tell me what you think!
"So how'd the date go?" Johanna asks when I walk through the door to our apartment.
I grimace, already trying to forget Crazy Sarah whom I've already deemed Foxface to erase the horrid memory from my mind, and head for the fridge for a beer. Never again will I let Gale hook me up with someone. Never again.
"That bad, huh?"
I take a long sip before replying, "You have no idea."
She howls from the couch in laughter, skimming through some gun-nut magazine. "Well, hang in there! Maybe the next date will go better, loverboy." I push her feet off the coffee table with my legs and plop down next to her, taking another long sip of my good ol' friend, Miller Lite.
"There isn't going to be a next date, Jo. She's not the one." I turn on the TV and start flipping through the channels, but all I can think about is Foxface. I shudder again at the thought of her. Worst. Date. Ever.
"What exactly happened?"
"She has a lot of cats," I explain.
"And?" Johanna prompts, motioning with her hand to continue. "Cats aren't a bad thing; you love animals."
"She dresses them up, makes movies of them, takes pictures of them, Jo. Then, during dinner, she pulled out a scrapbook of them and began to cry at how much she loves them." I take another sip to drown out the memory. "I should have known Gale would send me the crazy type." Never again.
Her booming laughter lightens my mood a little but not by much. "Is it really too much to ask for one decent girl to go out with?" I ask. "Is there not one single girl out there who doesn't have a weird addiction or fault?"
"Maybe your standards are a little too high," she says, 100% serious this time. "Poor future Mrs. Mellark is busting a hip trying to gain the title."
I have to laugh at that, and I do, because I am thankful for Jo's commentary. It's not exactly what I want to hear, but it helps.
"I just can't help thinking I'm going to be alone forever," I confess, finishing off my beer in less than five sips. New record. The guys will be so proud. "I'm going to be turning twenty-eight soon. Twenty-eight," I stress. "My parents had me when they were twenty-eight, and I'm the baby!"
For once Johanna is sympathetic and tells me to hang in there. "She's coming, Peet. She's coming."
I hate being whiny, especially since I know Johanna is going through her own relationship issues with Gale, but I just can't help it. It's hard being the only single guy in the group, and it's hard going on these blind dates in hopes of finding "the one" only to be left with scarring memories instead. "What if She's not, Jo? What if the future Mrs. Mellark doesn't exist, that I'm meant to live my pathetic life alone?"
Johanna takes my hand and gives it a gentle squeeze, making me believe she's going to say something deep and meaningful to make me feel better about my so called love life, but instead: "Do you want to have sex to take the edge off?"
To know she's every bit as serious as the look she's giving makes me laugh until I'm crying. I wipe a tear from my eye and get up to get another beer, again so grateful Johanna is my roommate. "It's been awhile, hasn't it?"
"It's been so long," she says, tossing her magazine on the table, "that I think I'm getting blue vagina."
"Stick a microwave in there to warm it up," I joke, handing her a beer.
"There's only one thing I want stuck up there and it ain't no microwave." We make cheers to that and end up watching reruns of Friends for the rest of the night.
"She's really sweet, and smart, and pretty," Annie continues, listing off the reasons I should go out with her co-worker. "And she loves to cook! Peeta, she's the perfect girl for you."
Taking a handful of nuts from the basket on our table, I consider her offering. "I don't know, Annie," I start, planning on declining her generous offer. "It's only been a month since I broke up with Madge."
Madge Undersee, the girl I thought was the perfect woman for me. Not only did we have the same interests in books, but she was a baker, just like me, and didn't mind the cheesy baking jokes I'd make despite the gang rolling their eyes at how bad they were. She was pretty, a blonde, with the sweetest smile. Her laughter made everything okay, and I was planning on marrying her since the moment we met. Well, that is, until the ex came back and they eloped, leaving me behind with a pathetic sticky note saying how sorry she was.
"It's too soon. I'm not ready"
Her soft hand finds its way through mine and she gives it a gentle squeeze. "Everyone needs that special push. Just look at Finnick." We both look toward the bar at my best friend, getting the pitcher of beer for us, and she has a point. Finnick used to be a total ladies man before we met Annie our senior year in college. She had somehow tricked him into having one date with her and before either knew it, they were married.
I sigh, turning back in my seat. "I suppose." I bite my thumbnail for a moment in thought. "I'm just tired of waiting."
"We all have to wait," Annie teases, scooting over for Finnick to sit next to her.
"Wait for what?" the bronzed haired man asks, setting down the pitcher and glasses, sitting next to his wife. "The beer?" he jokes. "You two need to learn to be more patient or get it yourself!"
Shaking my head at his horrible attempt to be funny, I pour myself a glass. Maybe Annie has a point. Maybe I do need that push in order to find Her. I watch two of my best friends giggling, holding each other's hand like school children in love, and I want that. I want to do something silly and lovey-dovey with someone. I want to make a fool out of myself in front of my friends.
I take a small sip of the cool Miller Lite, my only love at the moment. If only She would come sooner. Who knows, I think, this Delly chick may be the right one. Annie did say how much we had in common, and it wouldn't hurt to go on one date now would it?
"You know what, Annie?" I decide, interrupting their couple moment. "Sign me up. Tell this girl I'd love to go on a date with her."
Annie's 100 watt smile shines. "You're going to love Delly. I swear on Finnick's dead green suede suit."
Finnick is insulted. "Hon, I'm still mourning over that."
"You don't need to get married, Peeta," Gale tells me after a few shots knocked back at our usual bar. "People shouldn't even get married. It goes against everything I believe in."
I smile, feeling the few jello-shots I had start to sink in. "I didn't know they allowed you in church, Gale."
We laugh, loud and proud at how beautiful single life is, and take another shot.
I drunkenly regret going out with him. Tomorrow's hangover's going to be the worst, but when in doubt about life issues, Gale always seems to be the person to go to. I toss back another shot and shout out, "Mmm! Fruity!"
We roar with laughter now, not even sure why the hell we're laughing to begin with, before stumbling out of our seats to get more to drink. Sure, I'll regret it, but man, am I having a great time. Who needs girls, anyway? Gale sure doesn't and he's doing just fine.
"Girls," Gale slurs, putting his hand on my shoulder for one of his life lessons, "are just a distraction from the real fight." He sure talks a lot when drunk.
"What's the real fight?"
"Surviving," he explains with as much sternness as he can muster under the shots. "The world's a cruel, cruel place, my man, and it eats up the weak, only spitting out the strong." Gale flexes one of his biceps at me and I laugh.
I laugh so hard I fall down on my drunken ass, spilling the beer all over myself. Why am I drinking? Everyone knows I'm a lightweight. Gale helps me up, proving once again how strong he is, and I give him a hug, telling him I love him.
"Whoa whoa whoa, Peeta," he chuckles, sitting me down on a bar stool. "Love is a distraction from the fight. Not just girls."
In my drunken haze I ignore him as I glance around the bar, smiling at how happy everyone seems to be in. Bars are great. They bring people together. They bring pretty girls in here. Speaking of, I spot a very pretty girl at nine o'clock.
"See that girl?" I tell Gale, pointing in her direction. He glances behind him, nodding, and asks what about her? "I'm going to talk to her."
"Remember," he urges, slapping me on the back in encouragement, "no falling in love! Remember the fight!"
I nod in agreement and stumble my way over to her. She's really pretty, with her dark black hair in that braid, and I just want to ask if I can touch it.
"Hey," I smile seductively, lowering my voice to appear more masculine. I lean against the bar, hoping my own biceps will impress her.
She doesn't seem too impressed with that scowl, though. "Can I help you?"
Grinning like the drunk idiot that I am, I motion for Greg, the bartender, to get us two beers. "It's not every day I see a really pretty girl like yourself." I wiggle my eyebrows for the added effect.
The girl's scowl deepens and she gets up with her purse. "I gotta go," she says, trying to move out of my way. I stop her and ask for at least her name.
"I need to know the name of the girl who's breaking my heart."
She hesitates and tells me it's Britney, but everyone calls her Clove. I like Clove. That's a really lucky name.
I convince her to stay a bit longer. Might as well enjoy a free beer, right? And she stays for six more.
I don't remember much the next morning, but I do wonder why the hell there's a loaf of bread sitting next to me in bed.
"We just found a house in the suburbs today," Annie and Finnick announce while the rest of us are drinking our stressful days at work away.
A house. Huh. How domestic of them.
"That's great!" Johanna exclaims, giving Annie a hug. "I'm so happy for you!" Annie is probably the only person Johanna would be so girly toward.
"Congrats," Gale mutters, holding his beer up to show his congratulations.
I don't say anything. I watch my friends, being all happy for one another. I'm happy for them, sure, but I can't help realizing how in time they are with their lives⎯ getting married, buying a house, probably having kids soon⎯ and how behind I am with own my life. What am I even doing? I'm thirty-one, still single, and living with my ex-now-turned best friend. This is not how eighteen year old Peeta Mellark saw his life at all.
What are Finnick and Annie doing right that I'm not? How did they get so lucky as to finding each other that one fateful day on the beach?
I think back on all the countless women I have dated over the years, wondering if any of them could have been "the one."
I thought Madge Undersee was "the one" until she left me for her ex-boyfriend.
I thought Effie Trinket was "the one" until she admitted she had a weird fetish for old men.
I thought Delly Cartwright was "the one" until I realized her sweetness deterred her common sense.
And I used to think Johanna Mason was "the one" until we both realized we were far too different to want the same things in life.
There are so many more I could add to my list, but really, why does it matter? I broke up with all of them for a reason, right?
Maybe Johanna was right all those years ago. Maybe my standards are too high. What if the future Mrs. Mellark has already snuck up under my nose and I never even noticed because she's so different from what I imagined my future wife to be like?
I take another sip of beer and wonder how my life could get more "on track."
But to get "on track" I need Her. I can't have the wife, the children, the house without Her. If only I knew who Her was this would make my small life crisis a lot easier to handle.
"Congratulations," I say, holding my now empty bottle up. "I know you two've been waiting a long time to find the perfect home."
Finnick laughs his bright, boisterous laugh and clinks his bottle with mine. "Cheers, my friend! We've waited years, but now the bank's gonna finally give it to us!"
They've waited for a house.
Johanna's waited for a good group of friends.
Gale's waited for his dream job.
And I continue to wait for Her.
I order another beer, being told I have to wait a few minutes because it's happy hour.
It seems all we do in life is wait.
I never thought I'd live to see the day Johanna Mason and Gale Hawthorne tied the knot, but I guess life needs a little spontaneity somewhere.
The reception is loud, crowded, with music blasting from the DJ's stereos at a level I wonder is even safe for our ears. No one seems to mind, though, especially not the bride and groom who I know are a little high from the weed break we took after their vows.
I spot Annie and Finnick across the room and wave to them. They wave back, laughing and pointing at how absurd everyone is dancing before their attention is pulled back to their two year old son, Adrian. They seem happy and a little drunk on Finnick's part, but that's to be expected at best friends' weddings.
I need to be drunk, I sigh, taking another sip of champagne. I love weddings. They're always this beautiful moment for a couple to show the world how in love they truly are. But after all the weddings I've attended, all the weddings I've catered to, nothing changes the fact that I still haven't had my own wedding to celebrate. I haven't had my own special moment where I see Her walking down the aisle towards me only to have my breath taken away. I haven't had any of the moments my friends have had, and damn it, I want to.
Is that so hard to ask?
I finish my glass and set it down on the nearest table before heading outside for a much needed breath of fresh air. I need to clear my head of all these depressing thoughts. I should be happy for Johanna and Gale. I should. Really.
I pull out a cigarette, a bad habit I had picked up in college when things got too crazy in my life, and light.
It's a cold March night and even in my dress coat I'm shaking, but anything has to be better than going back into that hot room right now. I suck it up, bringing my shaking hand to my mouth, the taste of nicotine already soothing my thoughts.
A crash is heard from behind me as one of Johanna's bridesmaids stumbles out of the door, laughing her ass off at something.
I try to ignore her because I'm really in no mood for handling the drunk tonight, but she spots me and stumbles over, her walk even more strange with wearing only one of her high heeled shoes.
"Hi there," she laughs, putting her hand on my shoulder for some balance.
I straighten my back, trying to remain impassive, but I can't help noticing how pretty she is, how her tiny hand is touching my shoulder. I clear my throat, continuing minding my own business.
"Mind if I bum one?" she asks, reaching already for my cigarette. Putting it in her mouth, she smiles, inhaling all the deliciously bad nicotine and exhaling little puffs of smoke. "Man, I needed that," she blows in content.
"Excuse me." I pull it back from her, not wanting to share with this strange woman. Seriously, not in the mood for this.
"You look familiar," the bridesmaid points out, moving in front of me for a better view. "Do you bake?"
This is getting rather awkward. "I do," I allow. How the hell does this chick know what I do for a living?
"You make those cakes for our office parties, don't you?" she shouts a little too loudly for my taste.
"Maybe we should get you inside," I offer, trying to pull her toward the door again. She slaps my hand away and smiles the prettiest smile I have ever seen. It even puts Annie's 100 watt smile to shame.
"You are! I've been waiting forever to tell you how much I love your cakes," she explains, leaning on me again so she can take off her other shoe. "But you seem to leave every time I leave my office to get some of that damn cake." Her shoe comes off and she points it directly at me. "And those cheese buns!" Her head shakes in disbelief. "I think I gained like 15 pounds eating those damn things."
I try to smile, hide my discomfort this girl is causing me, but I can't help asking how the hell she knows my face to connect it with my food.
"How do you know I'm that guy?"
That seems to stump her for a minute. "I can't remember," she confesses, twirling her heel in her hands. "I guess a girl just knows these sort of things."
"Look, I should really get going..." I start, pointing back inside. "People are waiting, and it's getting really cold out here, and well, I don't want to miss any cake⎯"
She interrupts me, pulling me back toward her with more strength than I originally gave her credit for. "Did you make that cake?"
This girl seems to have what Gale likes to call Crazy Eyes, and I know for a fact that's my time to split.
"I did, and I would love to see my friends cut it and eat it."
Her grip strengthens. "What's your name?"
"Peeta Mellark," I gulp, wondering what this crazy girl's going to do to me.
She lets go of me and beams the biggest smile, a bit of the Crazy Eyes gone thankfully. "It's nice to meet you, Peeta Mellark. I'm Katniss Everdeen." We shake hands and I'm reminded at just how pretty she is when her face lights up like that.
"Nice to meet you," I mutter, shaking her hand awkwardly. "Now, if you'll just excu⎯"
Katniss links her arm through mine, still stumbling in her intoxicated state, and says, "Now hold on there just a minute, Peeta Mellark. I've been waiting a long damn time to meet you, and I expect you to like me so much that you'll make me those cheese buns from now on because I can't bake worth a damn."
And just like that she pulls me back into the party to try some of the cake she's been waiting forever on.