A/N: This is basically the same thing as my fifty sentences, but longer and more in depth. Each chapter is different from the last and is prompted by a random word from a list of fifty. This will alternate randomly between Katniss and Peeta POV and will be at random places or times during their lives. As for updates I don't have any particular schedule to it but I plan on one every so often. Thank you to everyone who reads it. I hope you enjoy. Sorry for typos. Reviews are love. -Taryn(:
There is silence. Around himself, he can hear the rain against the rock walls of the cave and he wonders what it would be like if they weren't in the arena. Would there be silence then? Part of him has the intense urge to take Katniss by the hand and pull her out in the rain so that he can just see her like that; wet hair dripping against her cheeks and neck, sticking to her lips, swollen from kissing, as her grey eyes gleam up at him, equal parts steely, and warm.
He thinks of before the arena, and how he would not of had the courage to do that then. Or that she would not have looked at him at all, let alone warmly. That fact makes him ache in his heart. Regret tastes bitter on his tongue as he lays there, pressed against her warmth. He can smell her hair, and it has this earthy scent to it, like dirt and a glade of damp grass, swaying in the breeze. To think that he might never smell that again, that he will have to let go of this piece of heaven, makes his hands itch to touch her, to allow his fingers to run through those sloppy, silky strands of black hair.
Without saying a word, Peeta shifts, so that the arm he has laying underneath Katniss' head as a pillow pivots a little, as to allow his fingertips to just barely touch her forehead. Against his chest, he feels her back muscles stiffen, and he pulls in a tight breath. He hesitates, his fingers going still, just barely skimming the hot skin of her forehead.
"It's okay," Katniss murmurs against the sleeping bag. She just gave him permission, but still Peeta feels some unknowable ache in his chest. Katniss accepts his touch. She willing will lay in his arms, and come back for him within the Hunger Games. So why does he feel like this is all a dream? Inside his head, he'll wake up soon, and he will be let down. But how could he be let down? All he had ever wanted was Katniss.
First, Peeta tries to remind himself that he'll have memories. He should savor this while he still can, without taking advantage. That's what he kept telling himself, when he knew he would go into this arena and die for her by joining the Careers.. but now, it seems different. Now, Katniss is saying that she has feelings, too.. or at least he thinks so. Also, they've been promised two slots for victory. It seems that after he saved her from Cato and she saved him from blood poisoning their affections are obvious. It's supposed to be them, it feels like. It was meant to be this way. And Peeta worries he's going to ruin it.
He feels like a little boy, when he draws only his thumb across the smooth skin of her forehead, until it reaches to the place where Clove cut her. He feels Katniss shudder. All he wants to do is take away her pain. Is that too much to ask for? Can't he just bear it instead? Peeta would do that for her; he would take the pain, the bad memories, the hunger she once felt, the loss of her father, any other pain or slight she might feel or hold onto. He doesn't know her enough to know what haunts her dreams, but he knows that if they ever get out of here, they'll soon share nightmares.
Or will they? Peeta finds himself questioning the future. In this little cave, inside their haven from other tributes and the sheets of gray precipitation blocking out the sight of the trees, it's easy to believe they'll be okay. The thought that they might make it, that it's just the two of them, all by themselves, is heavy in the humid air around them. Peeta can feel her every move within this musty, cold cave. So he feels safe. Everything is wrapped in a sense of untouchable contentment, quickly deterring his negative thoughts.
Carefully, his thumb traces underneath the cut on her forehead and runs downward, passed an eyebrow and along her temple. He wonders if she knows that even this simple acts makes his heart race. Just to feel her skin, to know that she's letting him touch her, it's enough. It is more than he ever thought to have.
"I always wanted to know why you wouldn't wear your hair out of a braid," he says, simply because there is silence to fill. He wants to feel her form relax against his and he hopes that he can use his words to calm her, or to let her know that he only means to savor this.. he only ever wants her to be comfortable. "Now I know why." Peeta turns his face a little, his lips and cheeks and closed eyelids brushing the hair at the back of Katniss' head, their ticklish strands dragging against his skin.
Katniss is stiff and unresponsive, at least, in body. In her words, Peeta tries to understand the emotion he detects there. "Habit, mostly," she answers him, as if he hadn't said he already knew. Her voice is weak, meek, not sharp. Peeta wonders if it is because she doesn't care for the topic, or because of the thumb he has pressed into the side of her cheek, or because she is tired and he is rudely keeping her awake. "I don't get to wash it much, so it helps keep it clean. Plus, it gets in the way if it's not tied back in some way."
That would make it easier to hunt, no doubt. Peeta recalls his earliest memory of Katniss, not for the first time in these Hunger Games; she is wearing her hair is two braids. Always, throughout the school years she'd worn it in a braid, and he had always wondered what it would look like without it, if she allowed herself to loosen up a bit, too. If Katniss knew what it was like to let her hair down and to let her guard down, he wondered if she would go out in the rain and dance in it with him.
However, not only the thought of being with her at her most vulnerable, her most pure, her most open, is appealing. What also plays into thought is an image of her that Peeta likes to hold onto. He tries to imagine her, not only open, but free and wild. There is something undeniably organic and exotic about Katniss, especially in her looks; her skin kissed deeply by the sun, but that is hard and thick, like tree bark, with hair as black as the shining wings of a bad tempered raven, her angular face and body, the curve of her lower lip, that makes Peeta long to trace it. And yet, while she is beautiful in her closed off way, with a scowl and steely eyes, Peeta pictures another side of her. A wild side, where she would dance in the rain with him, her cheeks flushed, lips parted to draw in exhilarated breaths, as she smiled at him, the silky, sloppy strands of black hair clinging to the angular sides of her face with rainwater.
That image of her drives him wild with lust and adoration. He knows he shouldn't, because maybe he's wrong. He does idolize her, and he knows it might not be all that good for his head or heart to love her just so much, from every angle, but he can't help it.
"You should wear it down more," Peeta finally whispers back to her, to her neck, to her hair and he has a sudden urge to look her in the eyes. Could he somehow turn her toward him with the thumb he has against her cheek? Would that only disturb her rest more? He decides against it, because looking into her face makes him nervous and he knows that he'll just start to ramble underneath the pressure.
This conversation is full of long pauses, but they aren't awkward silences. Peeta wonders if she feels awkward. He feels comfortable, at his most relaxed, actually, yet at the same time the other pieces of him are cold in the night cave and his breath is forcibly calm, because the girl he has loved since he was five is laying right next to him. She has her freezing toes pressed determinedly into his calves, so that makes it hard to concentrate on the pain in his thigh. Does his thumb on her face hold the same effect? Is Katniss distracted from the pain of her cut by the finger he presses into her cheek? Peeta can only hope.
"Maybe," Katniss breathes, some minutes after Peeta's suggestion, as if she had to mull it over first.
Maybe is good. Maybe could mean a yes. "Okay."
"You can.." Katniss breaks off slightly, as if she lost her nerve. Peeta's heart does a slight flip when she takes a long, deep breath and her back fits more tightly against his chest. Her warmth seeps straight through his shirt and makes him feel weak in all nerves. "You can take it out, now, if you want," she finishes.
"Really?" he slips out before he can hold it back. He knows by now that Katniss usually always means what she says before she says it. The question is more derived from the shock at the thought of being allowed to do that. Years he spent imagining what that would be like, so being told he could do so.. so simply, makes him feel excited, and queasy.
Katniss voice is slightly humored, but still demure. "Really."
Peeta's other hand not on her face is hanging limply off his own hip, and carefully, hesitantly, he moves it upward beneath the sleeping bag. He tries not to touch her, to respect her personal space, but as his hand nears the end of her braid, tucked against the hollow of her throat, his fingers brush the hot skin of her collarbone and shoulder. He feels her upper body tighten, and he carefully tugs the end of the braid until it is loose enough to shift his fingers through the twists of the plait. Slowly, delicately, as not to pull at her hair, Peeta untangles the braid, making his way up toward the base of her skull.
He feels his heart in his throat, each pulse painful and warm, as his unintentionally deep exhales fan against the back of her neck. The thick, crimped length of Katniss' tresses fall away from each other to blanket his hand, thread between his fingers, and to fall heavily against the bicep Peeta has laid underneath her head. A strong, earthy smell floods his nose, intermixed with natural oils and the lingering acrid taste of smoke from the mines she used to blow up the Careers' supplies. Though she had washed herself and her hair in the stream not long ago, one or two pine needles are knotted into her dark locks, and a chip of a dead leaf. Carefully, Peeta brushes those stray pieces aside, and he feels Katniss shudder for the second time that night.
"Better already," Peeta mutters mutably, inhaling deeply, to draw in as much of the warm, human scent as he can. Sleeping like this is so much better than sleeping alone in the mud. Yet, he isn't quite sure he can sleep like this.. not with Katniss so close. It's different this night, because he feels the most awake he has in a long time, and his pain isn't enough to exhaust him. She, too, seems to be her best since she showed up in her own puddle of blood. They are both wide awake, and he knows he can't sleep because she's there and he wants to savor this, because who knows what tomorrow will bring. And what of her? Why can't she sleep?
Peeta runs his fingers through her hair to the very tips and that brings his hand down to her middle back. Katniss seems to arch away from his touch there. He tries to not let it upset him. To cover his sudden fears and insecurities, he speaks. "I keep thinking this won't last. Any moment Cato is going to come crashing into here and take you from me..." and maybe that's true. He can see it happening, but he knows he won't let it happen. He'll die before that happens. What is more realistic, he find himself realizing, is that someone else would take her away from him, and by someone else, he means the Capitol.
He wants to believe in the chance for two victors so much his head aches from his efforts of optimism. Everything inside of him wants to trust in the change of rules blindly, just as blindly as he would love to trust everyone, but he knows better. He knows what the Capitol is really like. Why would the odds give him the love of his life, now? What had he ever done to deserve it? Not to say he'd done anything bad before, but whatever he did do must have been extremely good, because it's managed to overthrow the Capitol's laws.
Memories won't be much if he's dead, so he finds himself thinking that he should savor everything in the present. He will savor his memory of her now, not later. He'll lay here and enjoy her closeness to his heart's content, while at the same time, replaying the last few days in his head until the memories threaten to drive him mad with loss.
"Peeta," Katniss says, haltingly. He likes it when she says his name. It reminds him that this is real. With the thumb he has against her cheek, he feels her facial muscles tightening, or twisting, he can't decipher just what. All he knows is that Katniss closes her eyes and her eyelashes whisk past his knuckles, causing him to shudder. "I'm not going anywhere."
No, he thinks, I won't let you go anywhere. I'll be the one who leaves, and I'm sorry. He wonders if Katniss believes his feeble tries to make her believe in the rule change. Does she think she'll sacrifice herself in the event the rules do change back? If she does, Peeta hates that he'll disappoint her, because it's him who plans on sacrificing his place in this world for her.
Peeta feels the ache in his chest again. To have her with him, so close, is a torturous pleasure. He knows he can't keep her there, eerily. He knows that the last thing he'll think about before he dies for her victory, is her smell, and the feel of her toes on his leg, and the smoothness of her complexion underneath his fingers. And that image of her, too, will come to mind; wild, free, unguarded.
That's when he realizes he aches because he'll miss out. He won't get to see that picture of her, ever. The image will only ever be an image. It will be a piece of his imagination. It is something about Katniss that he will never see, or get to bring out of her. Maybe no one will ever try, and he'll be the only one who thought she could be like that. And he is saddened even more, because even Katniss deserves to feel errant for one moment. Overall, he just wants her to be happy. His throat tightens, as his eyes tingle sharply, and he just wants Katniss to realize he really does love her. He's not trying to hurt her by dying. Part of him wishes she never recuperated the feelings, so that he could die with the knowledge she isn't pained by it. The other half is extremely grateful for the fact that he got to tell her, and that he got these few moments.
He wants to tell her all this, but he doesn't want to scare her away, or for her to somehow stop him from sacrificing himself. So the cave is silent, as they lay there, wide awake, but not speaking. One of Peeta's hand is buried in her hair and the other still pressing a thumb into her cheek, stroking it every so often, just to feel the way her toes grip his calf in response, twisting slightly.
For a long time the stillness drags on, and Peeta's eyelids start to grow heavy. He wonders if Katniss is still awake, because he has not felt her move in such a long time. He doesn't want to wake her, if she's managing to capture rest, but still, he can't stop himself, as he whispers, "Katniss?"
Two heartbeats later, she whispers back, equally soft, "Peeta?"
There is silence, as both can't say the thoughts they are thinking, for both of them plot sacrifice, and neither is willing to relent, for though she can not admit it and he can not deny it, sometimes love makes you do crazy things.
Coming up next is 02: Kiss