Relive or Regret
by Spirit of Eowyn
Katniss/Peeta Beetee OCs
(10 pages) ( Chapter Warning: there is brief reference to sex in this chapter. Not enough to change the rating though.)
The next morning, I walked our six year old daughter Andeli to school while Peeta took care of Bannick and started writing down what to say to his family, in the past that would work, since I still wasn't that good with words and Peeta was the best at making plans. If anyone could convince people to do something weird to save their lives without telling them, Peeta could.
Andeli looks like me a lot, which is a blessing because I don't know what I would have done if she had Peeta's blonde hair along with his blue eyes. She would have been too much Prim's double, and my nightmares of harm coming to our children would have that doomed to burn feeling.
Andeli hasn't noticed yet, the stares that the older generation give me, the nods. Nor has she noticed that Everdeen Village is named after my family. But sometime soon the schools will tell her, if not of the War then the reason why Twelve had to be rebuilt. Because mommy shot an arrow, because mommy didn't realize she loved daddy until it was too late. And so over 8,000 people, the vast super-majority of Twelve burned to death because of the Girl on Fire.
I give her a big hug before I let her run off to her friends on the playground.
I arrive home to find Beetee and Binara and even my husband wearing dark glasses and wandering around our living room. Peeta wandered towards the kitchen.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
"Just making sure there aren't any new listening devices since last time. You're too popular for us not to check." Binara responded.
" I suggested just using a localized EMP for devices without a hard wired power source, but someone," Beetee glanced at Binara pointedly "thought that was a bad idea."
"Hmph. Well, we're done." Binara said. "Just this little one thats probably been here a few years." She held up a metal square the size of her thumbnail. "Just audio, no visual. I'd put it on the side of your washing machine once we restart it."
I scowled. "Or just get rid of it."
"I understand the sentiment but it's the kind reporters use, not government level. It's better to attach it somewhere where vibrations and background noise will drown it out, than have to always wonder where the new one will be-"
"There won't be another- " I fumed.
" Sorry, but these types are relentless, any time you leave your home they could try to break in. Even if we set up a Prime Level Security system you'd then have to deal with reporters around your home all the time."
I scowled but conceded.
Peeta came back with little Nick in tow, gnawing on some tiny carrots in his chubby hands. He waddled towards me. "Mommy!"
I lifted him up into my arms. He glanced at the strangers and then hid in my chest. "It's okay. Want to go play with your pans again?" I kissed his cheek.
Nick nodded. Off he toddled to the kitchen to play with Peeta's old pans. Soon we could hear the metallic clangs of pans being used as drums.
"So, down to business." Beetee replied as he sat back onto his place on the sofa.
"Is there any danger to the time traveler?" Peeta asked.
"Oh, well, there could be. However we haven't noticed many side effects besides a headache when you return. Both of us have tried it." Beetee's forehead creased.
"So you've both changed the past?" I asked.
"Well, yes, little things comparatively." Binana said.
'And we used a control group each time, and told each other things in the past that we couldn't have known otherwise, as in who would be reaped that year."
"To confirm it wasn't just a realistic dream." Binara looked distracted.
"Yes." Beetee said.
"We wouldn't recommend making a long habit of it, as you are stealing days away from your past. Excessive use could lead to psychological distress and illness." Binara added.
"You have something that sends you into the past- how do you get back? I assume the machine isn't in the past..."
"No, basically your mind gets reset- any REM sleep will reverse it."
"And that is the other thing- it's not yet, an exact science. I can't send you back to a specific day, just one that is linked to the place where you fall asleep. So you must fall asleep in the same place in the past." Beetee explained.
That eliminated any time before the Games. The house in the Seam that I grew up in was long since gone and I couldn't tell you precisely in that area my bed had been.
"Doesn't that mean that I can travel back safely if I were to sleep in my old house." Peeta asked.
"It's not an exact science. We're basing this on what we've experienced."
"In 40% of the temporal displacements we remember the future, that is, this body doesn't sleep the whole day, and we've observed the other walk around and have no memory of current events. And their knowledge matches the destination reached. But is often forgotten as an odd dream the first few times."
"Or in normal terms- We've noticed that often we switch consciousnesses. When our minds go to the past and effect things, that mind with nowhere to go switches places too. However usually thought on awakening to be a vivid dream, and a lost day."
"Yes." Beetee said as if he couldn't believe we thought he was joking.
I wondered whatever younger self would make of my dim burn scars, the fact I probably would look ancient to my younger eyes, and the children calling "Mommy!" I almost laughed. What stopped me was what my younger self might think of Peeta. Sickly Peeta. Peeta who I wouldn't blame for having another flashback with a Katniss who was and wasn't his wife. Who might be scared of the children and not claim them as her own, and otherwise react badly.
"It's a chance we should take." I answered despite myself.
Our visitors from 3 nodded seriously. I turned to Peeta. He had on one of his thoughtful looks that said to me 'I'm worried but resigned.'
I took his hand and squeezed.
We were doing this.
It was like a collective sigh had been released.
"We can start as soon as tonight..." Beetee said.
"Yes, the sooner the better." I said. While Peeta is still with me.
We arranged a time in the evening for them to return.
"We'll need to setup, a few hours beforehand, and we could watch your children for a few hours beforehand if you need the time." Binara offered.
"Time for what?" Beetee asked his assistant who shook her head and helped him out the door.
"Yes, thank you." I nodded and lead them out.
I was both excited and terrified to have a time set. I couldn't wait to start this, for Peeta to get much sicker.
We spent the afternoon cuddled up on the couch by the fire. Peeta took down notes while I held our son in my arms as he took his nap. Our little family. Then I bounced Nick on my calfs as he giggled. "Who's mama's favorite boy?"
"Me!" He squealed.
We gave Nick a big roll with cheese and meat for lunch. Peeta handed me the syringe with his medicine. It came pre measured in the individualized needle with no bubbles. He pulled his pants down slightly and I washed the area before injecting him. He was up to 3 times a day, along with pills. He tried to act like he didn't need it, but by medicine time he looked exhausted and I could tell his chest hurt.
We had dinner with the kids when Andeli came home and tried to keep to their normal routine.
When we tucked them in that night, and had finished singing and reading to them, Peeta said.
"Mommy might act a bit weird tomorrow, she's going to take some medicine that might make her ask some silly questions. But don't worry it's just for a day."
"Like you take medicine, daddy?" Andeli asked.
"Similar." I answered because I had no excuse to be taking medicine.
Andeli looked frightened. Oh. no. My little girl was starting to connect Peeta's medicine with how very very sick he was. I wanted to but couldn't say I'm taking medicine so dad won't have to. Otherwise I could see my little ones start trying to take daddy's medicine for him, with disastrous results.
As soon as we closed their door, Peeta started quizzing me on what I could and couldn't change and how to handle his family.
As we came down the stairs I heard the knock on the door. We show the scientists to our room to set up. Beetee gets right to it, Binara nods at us and says "See you in a few."
We wander around Everdeen Square, hand in hand, until we reach a favored grassy hill and gaze up at the stars.
"I'm scared," I start, and he turns to me with concern. " that I'm going to do something trying to save everyone and end up convincing you I'm not worth the bother."
"I'm serious." I say.
He cups my cheek. " That would be a trick. I tried a few times to stop loving you., accept that you'd never love me back. But even when I thought you might still be a mutt, I still wanted you. It would have been pathetic if we hadn't-" He held up our entwined hands.
"I still don't get it. I was abrasive, stubborn, closed off and didn't ever let my hormones get a say. How could you still have wanted me? What was there in me to want? I wasn't a Glimmer... Did you just get stuck with me at the age of five?"
"Someone is fishing for compliments..." He teases. "We've been married long enough, and I've told you enough times..."
"Still think I won out on the deal."
"Even now?" He asks, and I know he's not teasing anymore.
"Always." I reply."Besides, I plan on cheating and keeping you, Mr Mellark."
He kisses my forehead, but tonight I need more comfort. I cling to him, nuzzle into his neck and breathe deep. This more than anything is what I need to survive. I used to think that that meant I was weak, to need anything. I could continue living without him but to keep from withering on the inside I needed him. Together we were so much stronger than we were without. Alone we had just been two teenagers trying to survive, together we had inspired a nation. It was only when we were apart that I couldn't handle it.
"Want to head back to my place?" I ask.
I swear his ears perk up. " to start a fire of our own?"
I grin and nod.
He leads us back, play dragging me with him. "Come on. Come on. Someone might see us." He waggled his eyebrows at me.
We decided long ago that my old victor's house had too many ghosts to raise a family in, and besides Peeta's had the better kitchen. So my old home became his art studio and guest house for visitors. When no one was in town, we had come up with our own little euphemism for sex. I had at first felt really weird about having sex at our house with the kids around, and afraid they'd hear us, as I was rather loud, So we'd take an hour after the kids went to bed to go over a few houses over to my old house to be the old lovebirds, naked around the house, because we could.
I have never made love to anyone but Peeta, so I can't say whether Peeta is the best lover ever. But I think he is the best lover of me. Finnick had told me what it was like to be someone's latest conquest, and I can't imagine it for myself. Peeta knows me and what I like and over the years we've gone from fumbling and nervous to comfortable and precise. On other nights, he takes the time to research new and improved methods of loving me. His ego loves it when he succeeds. And we talk. Peeta far more than I do. This time I do more of the work, more of the adoring so his heart doesn't have to work as hard. Last thing I need is him dying here, now, like this. I want him to know how much I love him.
Afterwards he wraps himself around me, and it's like a confirmation of what we are to each other. There is nothing that separates us. Not anymore. For about an hour, I don't think about what could happen tomorrow, or Peeta's declining health. It's blissful.
"Love you." We say to each other.
It can't stay like this, but Peeta calms me down, strengthens me for what I need to do.
I turn in his arms. "Just think, day after tomorrow, no more you won't have anymore flashbacks, no more pain... You won't even be able to remember that you'd ever been hurt."
He frowns. "That would be weird. Good but weird. It's been with me for so long."
"But not anymore." I grin.
"I'm sure I'll still have pain, but..." A slow smile appears on his face.
"All I ask, is that when I come back you're in my bed." I say graciously.
"Our bed." He teases.
When we get back, Binara is on our porch looking at the stars and taking notes. She nods at us.
Peeta goes to help Beetee leaving me with Binara, and her charred skin. In her place I would have changed my injuries instead of whatever else she chose instead. So I'm curious.
"What did you change, Binara?" I asked.
She glances down, folding her arms in front of her and leans against the railing. "I stopped a school friend from killing her daughter because she couldn't stand the idea of her being picked for the games. And for her own selfish reasons. I remember seeing an article on it, a child in my 11 year olds class was found murdered, but the mom was in the Capitol by then and nothing was done. She'd never claimed her as her own. No husband to complain. It had always haunted me. I'd always wanted children but my games made me infertile. That a friend of mine had hurt her own, I always regretted that I hadn't been able to change that. My 'special talent' had been in education and counseling, helping children prepare for the possibility of being drawn for the games. Give those from 3 a chance. "
She'd spent her time helping kids while I was bemoaning my fate. I hoped she never saw 'my' Cinna designed outfits.
"Going back I was able to change her mind to a less fatal choice."
What must it be like to see me with children, which I had not grown up wanting, when she couldn't have her own? If I had been forced to have children with Peeta before the rebellion, when I was so against it, what would I have done when my children reached Reaping age. Would I have gone mad? It's a possibility I'm glad I've never had to face.
"Did you feel better?" I ask.
"Much. I know one life might not seem like much, with all the death we've seen and handed out, but for her it did."
I nodded. But how many could I save?
"Did she survive?" I know I'm probably asking rude questions but I can't help it.
"Not the first time..." Binara's eyes become distant.
Her words sent chills down my spine.
How many times would I have to go back to fix things?
She touched my arm. "Don't get to thinking that you can or must save everyone. With this traveling, you become isolated. Only you remember how it was before, whether it was better or worse. At some point you're going to have to decide what your limit is. What you can stay sane with and what will have to be considered good enough. Decide before you go."
What could she not live without? What stakes were too high? Peeta. Peeta had to live. Peeta had to still love her. She would do most anything to save Prim, and keep Coin from becoming President. Then Peeta's family. She hoped she could save more but that was her goal.
"If you find yourself in trouble in the past, you can call on Beetee or I. We will remember time travel by the time you're around. Just mention your daughter's name Dandelion, and I'll know you're temporally displaced you." She said as she opened our front door. She was so sickly that she was hard to look at but Binara was kind and motherly too.
I take a deep breath and say. "Yeah, I will."
In the living room I ask. " What was your limit?"
"I had to come to grips with what I couldn't change. I couldn't get myself out of the games I was in,. Wiress was the only tribute I managed to save in all my years of mentoring.. All the rest died. She became like my sister. And I failed her. I gave her advice for the Quell but she just smiled and shook her head. I couldn't give away what I knew, and neither can you. My limit was what was out of my control. You can't force someone to choose differently."
"Couldn't you just have volunteered for her?" I ask. It's not like it looked like she could possibly be enjoying life.
"I wouldn't have lasted a few days, with my constant need for medicine, and we thought that there was a good possibility that both of them could survive if they stuck with..."
Beetee or I or even Peeta could have saved Wiress if we'd known. But I could see the danger in that. During the Quell I discovered that I couldn't live without Peeta, how important he was to me. If past me wasn't there to learn that, I didn't want to consider what would happen.
I made it up the stairs.
Soon I was in bed and following their instructions. Peeta held my hand and I mouthed
" Love you." at him. He returned the gesture. Then the instructions on how to breathe, what to think about and focus on, and then I began to feel increasingly disconnected from my body. I made sure the last image I saw was of my loving husband. Peeta was why this was worth the risk.
And I was gone.
A/N: After this the plot starts really getting fun! :D
This is the first fic I've written that contained sex in the plot at all. Bit weird but I don't think the rating needs to be changed because that wasn't graphic at all, right? I also agonized over their daughters name. It had to be good but not silly and as soon as I give her a name, a bunch of you will probably think, "thats not right! It should be..." So you know, Her full name is Dandelion Mellark (because all other names for the flower involve it's diuretic qualities (:Piss a bed" for one, and other unflattering names not to give a child.) Andeli didn't sound bad and Andel means "angel" or "messenger" and deli- for delly the nicest person Katniss and Peeta knew from 12. (besides Peeta) Bannick is a kind of bread. The male name is ofGaelic origin, meaning "unleavened oatbread". I thought at one point of adding P to his name instead of B to be more Peeta,but sound that word out:" Pannick." Not what you name your child after having panic attacks and living in terror. Nick for short.