Author's Note: This is a one-shot, submitted to PromptsInPanem's Everlark Week on Tumblr. The prompt reads:
The Wrestling Championship
"He can wrestle. He came in second in our school competition last year, only after his brother."
Any second now, I am surely going to turn around and punch Fiona Bertram square in her perfect little face.
The whole school already knows how sculpted you think that his shoulders are, you stupid twat.
It's embarrassing, really. The way that she follows him down the hallways in between classes and always tries her hardest to get to lunch early enough to guarantee a spot at his table. She's never made her adoration of him a secret; even going so far as throwing herself at him in history class last week by pretending to trip over a nonexistent bump in the room's carpeting. Her chest ended up shoved in his face and she'd had the audacity to use his lap as leverage when pushing herself back to her feet.
I'd almost bitten through my damn tongue.
Later, with his head in my lap and my fingers threaded through his hair as we let the evening breeze cool our bodies, I'd asked why he didn't just tell her to screw off. He laughed and said that it had a little to do with how he's a nice guy and would never tell a girl to 'screw off', no matter what. Then, with a crooked smile on his face, he confessed that it's mostly because of how much he enjoys the way that I feel the need to claim my territory after witnessing her antics.
If he hadn't turned to start placing wet, open-mouthed kisses all along the inside of my thigh, I probably would have smacked him.
Peeta Mellark is smart, though. He knows how to handle me. He knows me, and that very idea is still something that I sometimes have trouble with.
There aren't many people who know about us. It's better this way, really. His mother still threatens to call the Peacekeepers each time that she catches Peeta and I talking for just a moment too long when I do my morning trades at the bakery's backdoor. I shudder to think what would happen if she ever finds out just how little talking we do out in the meadow after the sun's gone down.
I notice the way that my thighs are squeezing together involuntarily and try to distract myself.
"He can pin me to that mat anytime."
Yep, that'll do it. Fiona's need for a black eye today must be overwhelming.
Beside me on the hard, wooden bleachers in the school gymnasium, Madge Undersee rolls her eyes. I nudge her knee with my own and we share a smirk. When she had asked me to accompany her today, I'd acted put out and uninterested. On the inside, though, I'd leapt for joy at a legitimate reason to come and (silently) cheer Peeta on at this year's wrestling tournament.
When his name is announced for the first bout, he lifts himself from the bottom row. The royal blue singlet he's wearing is the exact same as everyone else on the team, but it's plain to see that he fills it out much better than most. The contrast between it and his pale skin is striking and, while I can't see them from here, I can picture the light spray of freckles that cover his chest and shoulders. Though I've seen him in much less, I have to say that it's a good look on him.
Fiona Bertram, along with her group of cronies, bursts into a loud round of applause and screaming behind me. Peeta's head jerks upward, toward the noise, but I feel a tightness in my stomach as he gets distracted by my face in the crowd. He ducks his head and winks and my face gets hot just watching the way that his blond curls fall over his forehead. Pushing them back, I know what he's thinking. He hates those curls. He says that they get in the way and thinks that they're stupid, but doesn't cut them because of me. I love those stupid curls.
The feeling of Fiona's feet thundering against the bleachers behind me in a childish display of glee makes me tear my eyes away. Of course she thinks that he was winking at her. I listen as her friends confirm that they saw it too, and yes, she's so lucky.
He makes short work of his first opponent and I applaud along with everyone else. It's not until he's victorious in his second match that I allow myself to get caught up in the crowd's cheering and rise to my feet in celebration. Madge gives me a curious look from the corner of her eye, but I try to play my actions off with a shrug. If she suspects anything, she doesn't mention it.
When he makes it to the final two, I can see from where I'm sitting that he's tired. The light sheen of sweat causes his skin to glisten and his hair to stick to the back of his neck. He's up against his brother, and when I note the way that the middle Mellark is trying desperately to catch the eye of Darcy Herring, I know that Peeta won't be winning this tournament. While he's not nearly as tall, he's much stockier, more sturdy, and has been able to pin his older brother for some time now. Not that he will today. Chord has been talking nonstop about Darcy for weeks on end and, thus far, has made little to no headway.
Peeta will do anything for his brother; even if it means throwing this last match to make him look good to a girl that he'll probably be over in the next month anyway.
"That wrestling get up really doesn't leave a lot to the imagination, does it, girls?"
I scoff, trying to cover the noise with my hand.
With the firsthand knowledge that I happen to have, I'd have to disagree. It hides plenty, but she doesn't need to know that.
Apparently, my hand isn't enough to muffle the sounds of my reaction and I feel the toe of Fiona's practically new shoe dig into the small of my back. I turn so quickly that my braid almost whacks me in the face.
"Don't even try to hide the fact that you like him, Katniss. I've seen the way that you look at him," she says, giving her friends what she probably thinks is a sly smirk. I think it makes her look more stupid than anything else. "You and I both know that he'd never go for a piece of Seam trash like you. Might as well nip your little crush in the bud."
I'm so angry and trying so hard not to throw myself on top of her that I miss Peeta losing to his brother on the mat down below.
After the crowd starts to disperse, I remain seated. I watch as Darcy approaches Chord to offer her congratulations and smile to myself at how Peeta's plan has worked out. There are several other girls crowding around the school's new champion, but at the moment, he only has eyes for her.
When I look over to see that Fiona is quickly closing the gap between herself and Peeta, I stand up and take the bleachers, two rows at a time, downward without giving it a second thought. She's less than a foot away from him and I can see the way that her eyes are raking up and down the length of his body. His eyes flicker over to me and I can see the look of panic in them as her hand reaches out.
"You know, it's too bad that you had to go into that last match as tired as you were. I'm sure you could have pinned him otherwise."
Maybe it's because he's half-naked. Maybe it's because I hate her. Maybe it's because I love him so much that it hurts sometimes, but there is no way that I'm going to let that pig touch him right now.
There's a split second where Peeta's face is overcome with shock as I step between them. It's replaced with a look that I can only identify as 'wanting' when I trail one hand up his forearm, over his bicep, and then around his shoulder. My fingers slides through the damp curls at the base of his neck and I press my body flush against his as I bring his mouth down to meet my own. His response is instant and, somewhere in the back of my mind, I hear the displeased gasps that escape whatshername's mouth. I can't think straight right now, though. I can never think straight when he holds me like this.
My mind clears slowly as we pull away. He rests his forehead against mine and looks down at me with a smile that's so wide I'm afraid that his face might split in two. I rock up onto my tiptoes and place a kiss on the end of his nose before I whisper into his ear.
"Don't worry, Peeta. You can pin me later if you want."