A/N - Uhm... Hello? *hides* I'm sorry! I really am. I know it's been what, 3 months? *hits head against wall* I don't want to bombard you all with excuses for the god damn ridiculous delay, but I have been getting E's in my coursework and some exams. o.O Yeah, so I've had to get my backside in gear and sort myself out, which as you may have noticed, caused a little bit, oh scratch that a HUGE delay. But I'm back. And with a bang, I might add - I think some of you will like this chapter. ;)

If any of you are still interested in this of course. :S I wouldn't be surprised if you weren't, I've rewritten this chapter numerous time and have been half tempted to just scratch this story in itself and rewrite it from the start. What do you guys think? Please leave some suggestions!

An absolutely HUGE thank you to all my lovely amazing reviewers! Including Echohellfire, yodell, WholeWheatWaffles, RunninOut, TylerStories, That One Person, LoneWolfie, Julia, FallenTribute, ClovesThrowingKnives, THGRock and N! Nice name by the way :p Now that was a mouthful. You guys are the reason I'm still continuing with this. Thank you so much! :)

Enough rambling from me, I'm sure you came here for the chapter, no? It is fairly short, but I would say is pretty... Interesting. Mwahah :)

Enjoy guys! Hope it makes up for the wait.

Chapter 6 - Denial, Denial

"Gale, for the last goddamn time, I wasn't there long enough to get any information out of him."

Gale sighs in annoyance as he hears me recite the same words that I had done before - I was getting sick of hearing my own voice. Heck, I was beginning to sound like a broken record. Every time he asked me the same question it was as if he kept expecting me to say something of interest, yet, he just consistently let himself in for disappointment. It was not like it was a hard enough concept to grasp; me and Cato argued and bickered - not like first-meeting pleasantries was of any importance, I kept provoking him to the point were he would unintentionally let slip what he was capable of, but ever so conveniently, a police officer turned up, and I couldn't go through with it considering Cato froze up and did a runner as soon as he realised. Though how the officer didn't hear the commotion beforehand, was beyond me. That was my abbreviated version of what happened, anyway - deciding it would be best not to inform Gale of the... predicament, I put myself in. Not like I really wanted to dwell on it, either. Really.

"But he must have said something that'll be useful,' Gale insists painstakingly. "Anything at all he give away? Anything?"

Now that I thought about it, did he give anything else away? Aside from his blatant disdain at Katniss' expense, which undoubtedly I felt inclined to go off the deep end about, but there must've been something. He did maintain his composure at first, but what did he blow his top over afterwards? Before he pinned me up against a wall, blocked my escape with his body, and whispered so hotly in my ear that nearly had me...

"Peeta, you alright mate?" Now that snapped me out of my reverie. Fuck, what was I thinking? "You look a bit flustered," Gale continues, concerned and oblivious. "Are you ill? Shall I get you something?'

Snap out of it, Peeta.

"Yeah, yeah I'm fine. Course I am, why wouldn't I be?" I really needed to stop thinking about Cato in, that way. Not only was it dangerous territory, but it was clearly distracting me from my impartial judgement - which genuinely was a necessity at the moment. Why the hell would I even think about him in that light in the first place? It's not like I've ever found guys attractive, so why this sudden interest in Cato, of all people?

No. You're not interested in Cato. You're not. You just haven't had a girlfriend in months, that's all. You just miss the contact, and it just so happend to be Cato who was the first person to cross those boundaries you involuntarily set in place. That's all, nothing else.

Of course, that's all it was. I just missed the contact, then. So, shouldn't I get a girlfriend? Sure, no one had caught my eye yet, but I hadn't really been paying attention, what with everything else my mnd was already preoccupied with. What harm could it do anyway? Maybe then I wouldn't have to deal with, whatever this is.

"There was, something. It's not much but, it's all I've got." I begin wearily. Truth be told, I didn't even know if it meant anything - I could've been reading too much into an instictive reaction.

"Anything is better than nothing." Gale replies, his eyes lighting up at his persistance finally paying off. Oh screw it, what harm could it genuinely do?

"Peeta you absolute fuckwit!"

Oh. Great.

It was inevitable she would find out, but so soon? Did Gale tell her? I doubted it, unless she had interrogated him to the point of no return. I had no time to dwell on it either, more so prepare myself for the barrage and onslaught of insults that were bound to follow.

"What the hell were you thinking? Oh that's right, you weren't thinking! Confronting Cato? You're hardly Mike fucking Tyson!"

I should've learnt by now that aggravating an already seething Katniss was just verifying my own castration. From the look in her eyes, that possibility was becoming more plausible by the second.

"Calm down, honestly. You don't have to make such a scene about jt - and if you haven't noticed, I'm still in one piece!" I retort, rolling my eyes at her unnecessary animosity. Yes, going behind her back to face her antagonistic drug dealer was not the smartest of moves, but it's not like I didn't intend to undertake any strategies me and Gale had previously enforced - I wasn't just going to hand myself over to Cato on a plate, where he could have simply knocked the living daylights out of me, like Katniss was attempting to insinuate.

"One Piece - for now, asshole," She spits, vehemence oozing from her every pore. "Do you have any idea what Cato could have done to you? The bastard's the reason some people are sitting in intensive care right now!"

"I have a faint idea..." I mutter furtively whilst avoiding making eye contact with her. It was quite comical, really. Here she was, lecturing and condemning me like I would Reece after he stuck his fingers in a plug-socket, hanging my head in shame and sulking, moreover trying to hide into myself in vain at the actions I had committed beforehand. Blatantly, the circumstances being incredibly divergent.

Strenuously, Katniss forces a strained breath out of her lips, that were directly poised in a straight line in a pointed attempt to refrain herself from spouting blasphemy at me, in the heat of the moment.

"Peeta..." She begins, struggling to find the words that would suitably convey the idiocy of what I so willingly walked into. "Cato, Cato's not just an aggressive short-tempered thug. He's, he's different. More, capable. You may not have realised it, but he's got, links, contacts with certain people. The last thing I want is for you to be drag-"

"Links? What links?" I interrupt abruptly, my curiosity ignited at that one word that may have huge indications about the brute who seemed nothing short of obscure.

Aghast, Katniss intentionally averts her eyes from mine - biting her lip in what I could only presume was a display of her inwardly cursing her own negligence, carelessly disregarding any sense of discretion.

"I-I I didn't mean anything by that. I just..." She stutters, at an utter loss at how to dissemble the truth after half of it having been inadvertently revealed.

"You what?" Unexpectedly sensing a sudden shift in power in the room, I press her for more information, feeling like I had the upper hand, for once. "What links Katniss?"

"None! Besides, stop straying from the real reason we're in this mess in the first place! You thinking you could take on someone twice the size of you when you're what, 5"7? Seriously Peeta, I know you like to think with your initiative, but this little stunt of yours could have ended up with your stupid ass sitting in a hospital waiting room as we fucking speak!"

I roll my eyes at her exasperation and ability to divert the conversation from a matter she's hesitant and out-of-place with; she sticks to what she knows and is adamant enough to remain that way, regardless if the rest of us are out the loop. Figures.

"...And it's not like you even bother to tell me that you're going to frolick ever so fucking daintily to your deathbed, oh no, I bloody find out fro-"

"Katniss, Katniss!" I interrupt her mid-tyrant as she glares at me both accusatingly and bewildered, her eyes huge at my audacity to stop her from finishing her tirade. To be fair, it made her look considerably ridiculous in contrast to how flushed she was, a primary result from continuously screeching at me for the past half an hour.

"Yes, Cato could have damn near killed me, but no he didn't. Yes, I could have been in hospital right now but no I'm not - why? Because I didn't aimlessly walk into Cato's territory just hoping sheer dumb luck would save me, nor did I rely on spontaneity as a way to get one over Cato." The words were spilling out of their own accord now as Katniss finally stops and actually listens to what I had to say.

"Me And Gale had a plan which obviously, backfired," I continue slowly, letting her digest my words. "...But it doesn't matter. I'm fine, he's fine. We're all right as rain and goddamn dandy, so please, put a sock in it and hug me you overbearing temperamental idiot."

Before she could splutter out any nonsensical protests, I strode over to her and wrapped my arms around her astonished and befuddled frame, completely taken aback and rendered speechless at my actions as she though disoriented, responds in kind.

"Don't you ever try anything like that again, asshole." She mutters disgruntled in the crook of my shoulder, but contradicts the harsh nature of her own words as she reciprocates my embrace and clings onto me just as tightly.

I bury my face in the top of her head in the hope she doesn't hear my muffled chuckles at her expense - the kick in the groin says otherwise.

Darkness. Everywhere. It engulfed the alleyway in a blanket of consternation, whispering sickly sweet nothings into the ears of unfortunate passerby's lurking around at this ungodly hour. Hovering in the night, the one sole source of light: the moon, somewhat penetrated the obscurity that resided in which nightfall brought with it, illuminating meager beams of light as the sun submits to slumber - however, it's efforts being proven futile as nothing seemed to rupture the walls that manifested in this unsuspecting alley. Street-lamps were all but dead and defective; resigned after fighting a losing battle with the oppressive tenebrosity, seeing no worth in this continuous battle.

A lone figure - tall, defiant and unyielding, stood in the far end of this all but abandoned passageway. Leaning self-assuredly against the wall, implying the significance of the conviction this individual possessed. He stood adamant, waiting patiently, secure enough in his own psyche that whatever he was waiting for was going to come to him. As it should. The vulture anticipating his prey, eyes lit at the mere prospect.

As anticipated, footsteps of two pierced the calm as it made its arrival known - slightly weary, unsure, out-of-place in their surroundings which was nothing short of predatory. The figure awaiting said person's arrival smirked voraciously, eyeing up the newcomer up and down and devouring every inch with his promiscuous eyes.

"I knew you would come." The more confident of the two boldly stated in his prime. He did. He always did.

Uncertainly, the newcomer's vibrant eyes were downcast, forthwith questioning his own reasonings to being here, half-heartedly tempted to run in the opposite direction and evade his own demise whilst the opportunity still presented itself. He knew he wouldn't though. He never could. Something deep within him prevented him from implementing the rational.

"Come here." The taller individual commanded authoritatively, oozing superiority over his inferior who obliged obediently to what the other had demanded. He had fought before, but his efforts were fruitful. In vain. It was inconsequential, fighting back at what they both knew he would inevitably give in too. He was no saint nor an innocent, he was fully aware of what he let himself in for in each of their clandestine affairs, concealed from prying eyes. He just couldn't bring himself to walk away, which the other knew and took full advantage off. Within reason, he resigned.

One step two, brought him closer to the python that was just waiting to strike, eyeing his subordinate with indiscrete desire, his fervor for the younger boy reaching a new peak as the primal need buried deep within him growled its complaint, craving it's omnipresent hunger to be fulfilled and not prolonged.

Before the boy had come within touching distance of the other, he found himself pinned and trapped between his predator and and the back wall of the alleyway, the air rushing out of him abruptly before he even had a chance to blink. Panting heavily, the younger's eyes, despite glazed over, peered up at the man who haunted his every waking hour lingered in his subconscious at night. Vibrant endearing blue eyes met his own in a frenzy of desire, pupils dilated in his hunger of devouring the younger boy who was so, so, close to being his claim. A smug, arrogant and lopsided smirk settled on the older of the two's face, tracing his alluring lips with his tongue, ensuring he had captured the attention of his inferior, before thrusting the proof of his arousal against the other - the feeling, however reluctant, mutual.

"Let's see if you do justice to your name, Loverboy."

Thrashing wildy and gasping desperately for breath that seemed to have escaped me, I awake with a start - sweating profusely, heartbeat thudding painfully loud in my eardrums, and most ludicrous of all, insanely aroused after dreaming about the man I loathe without question.

Cato. He fucking dreamt about Cato. He lusted after Cato.

How- What? Why?!

I would have laughed at the absurdity of the situation had it not been so hauntingly real. In one way, I suppose I have been 'in denial' for some time, knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light. Now though, could I deny it any longer? Even with the proof that my subconscious has betrayed any sense of rational thought?

Resolute, I knew what I'd have to do. I was going to have to see Cato again, regardless of the consequences.

A/N - Uhm, there you go? :s I apologise again for the delay, hope some of you guys are still somewhat interested in this and will hopefully leave a review, it'd mean the world to me. I actually didn't plan to do the dream bit in this, but Echohellfire, you planted the seed in my head and I just couldn't resist! :p Hope you all don't hate me too much. Again, I ask, please review! If you do, Cato will come visit you in a dark alley one night and pin you up against walls. *wink wink*

I will try to get the next chapter soon - honest! See you guys soon! :D Much love to you all! Oh, and Merry Christmas. :3