Gale Hawthorne was miserable.
There was no other way to put it, no need for sugar coating it. He woke up, worked all day, went to sleep. He never did anything for fun, never bothered to smile. Even his work—that had been so fulfilling just after the revolution had ended—felt like just another activity to keep him busy; something to keep his body moving when his mind so desperately wanted to shut down.
Yes, Gale was miserable and numb. And it wasn't getting any better.
With an angry growl, he gave a frustrated tug at his hair. The girl beside him in bed shifted, disturbed by Gale's sudden outburst. Her dark hair fell across her cheek as she flipped onto her side, and Gale could no longer make out her features…he could almost pretend this girl was another, someone who constantly plagued his aching mind.
Gale's joints locked up at this unbidden thought—he had tried to ban himself long ago from thinking about her. Too bad every thought after the sun went down revolved around the one that had slipped through his fingers so completely.
He felt his breathing spike, and forced himself to focus on the stranger in his bed; forced himself to point out the differences.
This girl in his bed, her hair was the wrong texture—it was lank and dull. It only looked similar to a different mane in color; the braid he could conjure in his mind so easily was silky, if forever tangled. Gale's heart unclenched just a tad.
His breath was still bated, though, so he continued on through the routine on autopilot. It was almost a nightly ritual after all.
The skin was wrong. Sure, this girl in his bed had a creamy pallor, but it would never be a ripened, sun-kissed olive.
Her nose had a sharp right angle, her lips weren't as full, she had dull, brown eyes. Every imperfection fell into place—every one another reason why this inoffensive and nondescript girl would be gone by the next morning, easily forgotten. She was just another face in the crowd, another performer in an endless parade.
Gale allowed himself a deep breath. Yes, much better.
He was still plagued by his crippling loss. He was still using girl after girl to cover up his un-mendable heart. The worst part was…Gale couldn't even hate the boy who did have her instead of him. Peeta was far too likeable for his own good, and—while that meant Gale would have picked him as second choice anyway—that just furthered the anger and frustrations he felt.
If there was no room for hatred, Gale had to settle for the dull numbness.
Clenching his teeth and fists in tandem, he tried to repress the urge to throw something. He had reached the point in his nightly grieving where hypotheticals swarmed his mind, emptied out his sanity and nagged at his conscious.
What if he had never helped Beetee develop any of the supplies for the war? What if he wasn't so angry all the time? What if Gale hadn't pushed his ideas on her, hadn't made his hunger for rebellion so painfully obvious when all she had cared about was saving her family? What if he had volunteered to take Peeta's place in the Games? Perhaps then she wouldn't have fallen in love with the boy, even if it took her ages to realize it herself.
But, then again, perhaps one of them would not have still been alive.
Questioning the past…it never did anyone any good. Gale would have been better just moving on.
If only it were that easy. But Gale just wasn't the kind of guy that fell in love easily. In fact, it had taken him quite some time to realize that it had happened the first time around...proving just how alike they were for their own good.
Falling out of love…well that was just unthinkable. Impossible.
With a resigned sigh, Gale reached the exhausted surrender of the night. He let himself be prisoner to the fact that he was just never going to stop pining after Katniss Everdeen.
He sank deep into the covers of his bed, his hand involuntarily reaching for his lips. A sad, broken smile twisted his features as he thought of the few kisses—the few memories—that were his to keep.
If only Katniss could see him then: sad and broken beyond repair.
In as much pain as he was, Gale thought wryly, "I'll never be more desirable to her than I am now."
And with that, he shut his eyes and forced sleep to come; dreaming only of a forest, a cabin and a different time in which Katniss would always be his.