Peeta's grip doesn't loosen on my wrist as we run from the Capitol made mutts. I certainly hadn't expected to find Peeta this way, and despite the mutts chasing after us I was relieved to have found him. Well, I guess he found me. I take a quick glance behind me to find that the mutts are a good foot behind us.
"Peeta, climb a tree!" I yell at him. He gives a slight nod as he runs forward a bit more. "You'll have to let go of me, we can't climb the same tree," I point out and I feel his grip on my wrist release reluctantly.
"Do it fast, Kat!" he yells to me just as I grab a branch of a tree. He does the same with the tree next to mine. I pull myself up just in time for the mutts to approach us. The mutt barley misses me by an inch. Quickly I look to my right to see Peeta safely in the tree, though he was sitting with his right leg awkwardly.
"I've got a bow, I can take them out," I say pulling an arrow out of the quiver. Just as I load the arrow into place the four careers come into the clearing laughing. That is until they see the mutts. I hold a finger to my lips as I look over at Peeta praying the careers are too distracted by the mutts to see us. The mutts dive for them almost instantly. Three manage to turn and run the way they came with the rest of the mutts on their trial. While, the blonde girl from District one isn't so lucky and the mutt caught her. The air is filled with the screams from the girl below, and the sickening sound of flesh being torn.
"Kat, are you okay?" Peeta calls and I turn to look at him once again. I give a light nod, feeling sick. I keep my heard turned away from the scene on the ground.
"How about you?" I couldn't resist look at his right leg positioned hanging off the branch. He wasn't daring to move it.
"Before the mutts showed up I had a run in with the careers and Cato's sword got my leg. It's pretty bad. I'm surprised I managed to out run the mutts on it. Must've been the adrenaline," he explains. I look closer at this leg to find a cut on the inside of his thigh. Finally a cannon sounds and the last mutt runs off after the others.
"We need to find some sheltered area so you can let it heal," I say although I was sure if it's as bad as he says waiting it out wasn't going to do much good. It would need medicine. He gives a nod and climbs out of the tree. Now that he wasn't pumped on adrenaline and trying to save his life I could see him wincing as he moved it. I sigh and climb out of my tree quickly. "How'd you run into the careers?" I reach up placing one hand on his back and the other on his side trying to help him.
"I was just getting some water and they found me," he says as his feet touch the ground. He nearly falls over as he puts weight on his leg.
"It's amazing you were able to run on that leg," I say looping my arm around him to help support him.
"Well, sitting in a tree without any weight on it doesn't help anything. I was mostly use to the pain at the point I found you. I found this cave by a stream yesterday, we could go there," he says looking at me with his bright blue eyes.
"Isn't that where you ran into the careers?" I arch an eyebrow not sure it's a good idea to stay where the careers know we'll be.
"No. I went to look for you and I stumbled upon a lake. Apparently that was the career's water source." The talk of water reminded me of the burning in my throat and the sand paper feeling of my tongue.
"Well, I haven't found any water since we got here so to the cave it it," I say hoping it wasn't all that far. I wasn't sure I could half carry Peeta all the way there. Although I didn't have much of a choice. We start walking with Peeta telling me where to go since he can't lead.
"What do you think those mutts even were?" I ask trying to keep his mind off the pain in his leg.
"I'm not...sure. They looked like...scrawny coyotes, but...they sure can...do a lot of...damage," he says with a shrug. At this point he was panting the walk wearing on him. To be honest I was pretty tired too, with having gone 24 hours without water. I was weak, but not as weak as Peeta. Some pair we made.
"Are we close?" I ask desperately needing water. I wouldn't be doing Peeta any good if I died of dehydration.
"Just a...little bit..further," he says pointing for me to go straight.
"So, the mutts came after you and not the careers?" I felt bad making him talk, but he didn't need to be thinking about the pain I'm sure he's in.
"I ran, they...ducked behind...a tree," he explains. I glance at him, his face bright red, his blonde locks stuck to his forehead with sweat. Just then another cannon goes off, followed by another. Peeta and I exchange a look.
"Think the mutts caught up to them?"
"Doubt it...they probably...found a...team," he says. They were out to get the teams. Fifteen dead already. That means there was only nine of us left. Amazing how fast our numbers dwindled. After about another thirty minutes of walking we reach the cave Peeta was talking about. I stop looking between the stream and the cave.
"Let's get to the stream first," I say leading him to a rock right next to the stream. Carefully I help lower into a sitting position.
"I thought...I'd have been killed before...I found you," he says letting his eyes close.
"Don't say that," I say just the thought twisting my stomach. I set my bow and arrow down next to the backpack I hadn't even realized Peeta had. "How'd you get this?" I ask looking up at his staring eyes.
"The girl from one dropped it when her and the careers hid. So I grabbed it," he explains able to speak fully now that he's caught his breath. "There's a water bottle in there," he says as I reach for the bag. I quickly grab the water bottle and a water purifier. I quickly fill the water bottle and add the purifier before turning to Peeta.
"I need to look at your cut," I say. He nods wincing as he turns his right leg to the side, exposing the cut more. I grab the knife from his bag and cut a bigger tear in his pants. My stomach twists when I see it. It was cut straight to the bone.
"How bad is it?" I avoid his eyes.
"It'll be fine," I say not totally sure myself. It was swollen around the sides. I was sure Cato's sword had been used to kill plenty other people and wasn't very well clean. Just the thought makes me sick to my stomach.
"You're a terrible liar, Kat. Always have been." I look up at him with a scowl, though he wasn't wrong.
"We'll just have to get some medicine," I say though I'm sure medicine like that would cost a lot of money. Probably more than Haymitch could get. Peeta looks at me with a mask of doubt that I ignore. I grab the bottle of water and quickly drink the whole thing, the soreness of my throat quickly evaporating. I could feel Peeta's blue eyes looking at me intently.
"Really think that'll happen, Kat?" I take a last drink of water looking back to him. I reach over brushing my hand over his forehead pushing his blonde locks out of his eyes.
"You never know," I say although I wasn't sure I believed it. I leaned into him my hand finding his. It hadn't been long since I last saw him, but I had missed him during that time period. His lips press to my temple and I could almost forget that are in the games.
"Try this for the swelling." A quiet, female voice speaks up from behind us. I pull away from Peeta quickly my hand reaching for my bow, just as I see who it is. I freeze as her brown eyes look at me innocently and she holds leaves out to us.
"Rue?" What on earth was she doing here, and why did she want to help Peeta?
"Here, take these. Just chew them and put them on the cut. It'll work." Peeta takes the leaves and we exchange a confused glance.
"Thank y-" Peeta starts but as we turn back we find she has run off. I can't help but wonder how she knew about Peeta's injury and why she wanted to help him get better. "That was stranger, but nice," Peeta says his blue eyes trained on my face once again.
"Let me see the leaves," I say. He hands me the leaves looking down at his leg. The sight made my stomach churn. Sure, my mother was healer, and my sister was learning, but that just wasn't my thing. I usually went to Peeta's when they had a sick or dying patient in the house. Peeta was concerned the first few times, but after that he couldn't help but laugh at me.
"You look like you're going to be sick." I could hear the grin in his voice, along with the light teasing.
"Shut up and drink some water," I shoved the water bottle at him that was only about a forth of the way full. I look at the leaves suspiciously for a moment. I doubt Rue could be tricking me just to kill me, but this was the games so you never know. After a moments hesitation I decide to trust Rue and stick the leaves in my mouth. I spit them into my hand looking between the leaves and Peeta's leg.
"What are you waiting for, Kat?"
"I don't know what I'm doing," I admit and stick the leaves on Peeta's leg. As I do almost immediately puss starts draining from it. I have to look away from the cut before I get sick. "Peeta are sure you only had this cut for a day?" I arch an eyebrow looking up at his face.
"Yes. I wasn't running from those mutts for over a day." He gives me a teasing grin and nudges my shoulder. "Look, I'm sure it was because I was running on it. That's all." I stare at him surprised by his total calmness.
"Are you sure you weren't hit in the head too? How are you not more concerned about this?"
"Because I have you to take care of me," he says softly all teasing erased from his face. I can't help but smile, even just a little. I lean into him and brush my lips against his. His arm winds around my waist pulling me in closer to him. Our lips press together with more urgency. We stay like this until he winces.
"Sorry." I look down to see my hand still holding the leaves to his leg.
"It's fine." He flashes me a small smile and closes his eyes. "I'm tired," he says slowly losing energy.
"Alright, I think the infection is all drained anyways. Let's get you into the cave." I help him stand up, but when he does the color drains from his face. "Sitting for a while, and then standing probably doesn't make anything easier. Let's just get to the cave and I promise you won't have to move again." He nods and I keep a firm grip on him helping into the cave, only a few feet away. "You're sure the careers don't know about this spot?"
"Yes, Kat." I help lower him onto the ground. "There's a sleeping bag in that backpack." I reach into the backpack pulling it out. I help him slide into the sleeping bag maneuvering it carefully over his cut. "Thanks, Kat."
"Taking care of me," he says brushing a loose strand of hair behind my ear.
"You don't have to thank me," I whisper. I was very aware of the camera's filming us right now, making me want to draw a curtain and have this private moment with Peeta.
"Why not?" His beautiful blue eyes study my face.
"Because, I'm doing it because I love you. Not because I want a thank you."
"Come here." He holds the sleeping bag open and I dive in next to him. His strong, steady arms wrap around me offering me a sense of safety - even if we were being hunted right now. "I love you, Katniss." He kisses the top of my head.
"I love you too, Peeta. Get some sleep. I'll keep watch." He kisses my lips softly, and I notice his lips heating up. He drifts to sleep quickly and I watch his face, the warmth of his lips worrying me. I wouldn't lose Peeta - couldn't lose Peeta. Either we were both coming out of the arena, or I wasn't. That was it. I just had to hope Haymitch could get enough sponsors to get medicine to save him.