AUTHOR'S NOTE - Italics = a flashback. Thanks for reading!
Her name was Johanna. Quite frankly Gale couldn't care less; she'd given him painkillers and a grilled cheese sandwich and so she was a saint in his eyes. She said she'd felt bad for him after their talk in the afternoon and so brought him back to her place. He was grateful. Johanna's apartment wasn't the most enchanting environment, but it was nice not having to wake up in a bed that still smelled of his ex wife's perfume.
He thought of her a few times over the weeks that followed, as his life moulded back into some form of normalcy. He packed up Katniss things and made sure he was out when she called to retrieve them. His heart didn't hurt as much as he'd thought it would when he saw she'd left her key on the counter as well as her wedding ring. It still made him drink three straight whiskies for dinner though. He started the formal divorce proceedings the next day.
He started looking for a new place to live. What did he need with a three bedroom apartment now there was only him, especially one so close to Mellark's bakery? He'd passed him one morning on his way to the grocer and had nearly stopped dead in his surprise. He hadn't been near the street the bakery was on since everything had happened and so it had somehow slipped his mind. Peeta had fumbled with the box he'd been carrying to the front door of the bakery when he'd spotted Gale, staring at him, willing him to make the next move. He had the decency to look away and continue with what he was doing when Gale walked on by. He briefly contemplated going back and smacking him in the jaw like he deserved; when he'd caught Peeta's eye for that brief instance, he got the feeling that that was what the baker was expecting to happen. He would probably have welcomed it, as some sort of penance. He tried his best not to pass the bakery from then on.
He asked to be reassigned in work. He couldn't bear the trips to Madrid any more and although his boss was disgruntled and agitated at first he agreed. All in all, Gale Hawthorne's mind and heart felt lighter than it had done in the two months since his marriage had fallen apart.
And so, one Friday when he happened to meet Johanna again at a bar where he was having a casual after work drink, he welcomed her offer to buy him another.
"You seem different than the last time I saw you," she mused, big brown eyes glinting in the darkened bar.
"Thank god, I was mess."
They both laughed. He liked the sound of her laugh.
Katniss Everdeen found out that seeing truly was believing. Her 12 week scan had been quite the eye opener and though it had done little to calm her fear and nerves, it made her more settled and focused in her thoughts. She was pregnant. She didn't know just how much she hadn't fully accepted it before until the fuzzy image appeared on the screen. There was a baby growing inside her. It hadn't seemed entirely real before.
It helped to break the weird, awkward tension that had been brewing between her and Peeta since everything had happened. When the nurse had let them see the baby and hear the heartbeat she'd held onto his hand, eyes wide and scared. He'd kissed her hair and laughed in disbelief at it all. She'd looked at him and the smile on his face and couldn't help but let happiness overcome her for a little while too.
He'd taken her home and said he had to go back to work for a few hours but when he'd finished he brought home a bag of Chinese take out that made her mouth water.
"I thought it would be nice to celebrate a little," he'd muttered a little unsure, his cheeks turning a light shade of red. She'd smiled and taken the food from him.
"This is great."
They had take out every Friday from then on. It was Katniss' favourite night of the week. She'd had to so many unpleasant things lately; stuff she had been expecting but nonetheless upsetting. Like collecting her belongings from her old apartment and having to open the divorce paper's from Gale. And so she always looked forward to her Friday evening with Peeta. He didn't have the Saturday morning shift at the bakery and so he usually had a few beers or some wine. The more he had to drink the more he would talk and so the more she wanted to talk in turn. He talked about how he'd told his brother about the baby but hadn't gotten the courage to tell his parents yet. They lived far away, somewhere on the east coast and he wasn't sure how well they were going to take it. She talked about how there was no one she had to worry about telling. He looked at her sympathetically but didn't ask for more information. She would tell him later when she was ready. He told her about how he never went to college because he had to help his dad run the bakery as he'd gotten too old to do it himself. His brother Ryan went though; he completed his degree in business and when he came back, their parents informed them of their decision to move and that the bakery would now belong to his brother. They said he was too young and inexperienced. And so that's where he remained, helping out his brother in the family business he'd dreamed of inheriting.
Katniss paused after he'd finished and something about the sad look in his eyes made her stroke her fingers through his hair, the way her mum did when she was little.
"We can tell your parents together if we need to. Don't worry about it."
It took them two months to get here. Two months and she finally felt like they were a part of each other's lives; not strangers living in the same apartment, not two lonely people fucking away their problems, friends almost. Friends who were having a child together albeit, but it was progress none the less.
He smiled at her and kissed her softly on the mouth. Her stomach fluttered.
"So Gale," she slurred drunkenly, "what kind of name is that? I knew a girl in high school called Gale. You may think you've got the whole dark, broody, sexy thing going on but seriously man, your name." She made a gagging expression as she staggered a little off the pavement but he caught her just in time.
"It's elegant and classic and I don't appreciate you making fun of it. Thank you for calling me sexy thought."
She snorted derisively and continued to hum whatever tune was in her head. He glanced out of the corner of his eye at her and she grinned wickedly at him. He hadn't anticipated having as much fun as he'd had that night. Johanna's friends had left to go on to a club hours ago but she'd stayed with him saying she was much too tired for a late night dancing. And yet here they were at three in the morning attempting to navigate their way back to his apartment after they couldn't get a taxi. It had become apparent five minutes into the walk that Johanna had little capacity for handling her booze. They'd a fair amount of tequila but at least Gale could still walk straight.
"Were nearly here," Gale informed her, grabbing her by the arm and lugging up the stairs. She whistled when they went inside.
"Snazzy apartment male Gale," she spun around in the living area, nearly falling backwards into the TV, "what's with all the boxes though?"
"I'm moving soon," he started filling glasses with water and grabbed the bread from the counter to make her something to eat.
"Cool," she muttered lazily. He glanced over to see she'd already curled up on his sofa. He was going to tell her to sleep in the guest room but his couch was comfy as anything and she already seemed pretty out of it. He left the water next to her on the floor and tucked the blanket in round her.
"Goodnight," he whispered and smiled.
"Night night," she whispered back and giggled before settling down to sleep. He turned out the light.
Katniss had been anticipating this. The leaflets the midwife had given her had informed her that this could happen and the few things she'd read online and yet she didn't realise exactly just how … urgent it would be when it happened. Hormones were a bitch she decided. She felt like she hadn't thought of sex in years before now, not since she'd moved in with Peeta, and yet here she was, feeling like she was ready to hump the daylights out of anything.
Peeta. This was his fault. He'd kissed her again. That was probably the reason for her inexplicable, surging rush of feelings that were keeping her from falling asleep. She'd felt like this a few times since she'd moved in, she was a woman with needs after all, but her own fingers had been enough to satisfy her. This felt like something else entirely. She'd been tossing and turning for hours, a vague pulsating between her legs and a plethora of images rushing through her mind. The last time she and Peeta had sex. The last time she and Gale had sex. That time after they were first married when she and Gale had done it in the bathroom of the hotel restaurant on their honeymoon. Peeta licking her out on his bathroom counter that wasn't too far from this bedroom. She was even thinking about the rare lesbian fantasies she'd had from porn she'd seen on the internet.
She could have sex if she wanted to. Peeta was in the next room. They hadn't done it since just before she and Gale had started trying to repair their marriage; a few weeks before she found out she was pregnant, but she could always try. She felt a brief rush of something like embarrassment when she ran her hand over the curve of her stomach. Would he want her now the way he did before? She wasn't as slender now, most of the weight she'd gained was on her tummy but she could tell she'd put a little on her thighs and her face as well. She had to buy new clothes and her breasts had gotten bigger and ultra sensitive. She wasn't the same person any more and she didn't want to feel the bitter sting of rejection from someone who was no longer attracted to her when she was already feeling self conscious.
She contented herself with her pillow pressed tightly between her legs instead and thought of her and Peeta, and the time she thinks that this had all started, the time they created the life inside of her.
He'd been asking her to do things ever since the night they'd spent at his apartment but she couldn't bring herself to say yes again. He stopped speaking to her for a few days in retaliation. She was angry and that made her even more furious; he was making her act like some sort of jealous girlfriend. She went down to the bakery that night. He was sweeping when she went in, clearly finishing for the day.
"Why haven't you been delivering lately?" He looked at her from under his hair.
"No reason in particular," he kept sweeping, "Why does it bother you?"
She didn't let him finish. She had her mouth against his before he could get out a response and the brush clattered to the floor noisily in the stillness of the bakery.
"Is your brother still here?" she whispered and he nodded urgently but grabbed his coat before yelling that he was leaving. They'd gotten into his car and she just knew he was taking her to his home but she didn't have the will power to argue with him. She was surprised when he took a turn down a secluded road and they ended up in a spot surrounded by trees. When he rolled down the windows she could smell the sea air too and hear the faint whisper of the ocean.
They had sex on the passenger seat of his car. She'd never done it like this before, in the car, and always thought it would make her feel juvenile and like some teenager trying to lose their virginity while not getting caught by their parents. On the contrary it turned her on ridiculously despite the little space they had. His nails dug into her hips as she rid him hard, him thrusting up into her roughly, desperate little noises panting from the back of her throat as she came.
She had noticed later before she went to be that she'd missed a few contraceptive pills but didn't worry too much; it had happened before. The times they'd done it after that she'd asked him to wear a condom, just in case. She hadn't know they were already too late.
She came with a little shout, her face pressed into the bed to muffle her sounds, humping furiously against the pillow as she remembered Peeta's fingers on her nipples and the soft jerking of the car seat.
She still felt a little unsatisfied as she fell asleep but she decided it would have to do.