Chapter 1: The Mellark Legacy
I remember the first time I touched myself. It was in fifth grade, and I only lasted about ten seconds. It was the day that Katniss met my gaze the day after I gave her the bread. I was walking outside of school when I leaned down to pick a dandelion, and as I looked up, her gray eyes met mine. My heart nearly skipped a beat as I thought about approaching her, but she walked away before I could make up my mind. I blew on the dandelion, wishing that she would be mine. I watched the seeds float away as I began to walk home alone. Dandelions were my favorite; they refilled me with hope and a few seconds of joy every time I found a new one to wish upon. And today she had actually caught my eye. It filled me with happiness to know that she would be okay, that she hadn't starved to death, that I had helped her.
It was almost too much for me to take.
As I arrived home, my brothers snickered at my dreamy expression. "Hey Peeta, I heard you learned about sex today," Rye taunted, his blonde eyebrows raised in amusement.
I scowled at him. It was true, and it was also embarrassing. Dad had given me the talk before, but it was nothing compared to the shame my friends and I went through as they showed us the video in class. Thinking about Katniss had almost gotten me through it. Well, almost, but not really, because I soon realized that this was something I would want with her someday, and that thought had made it even worse. My face had never been so crimson; the blood running up my cheeks had never felt so hot away from an oven before.
"Shut up, Rye," I mumbled as I tried to get past him to walk upstairs into my room.
"Ah-ah-ah, not so fast, little bro," Leven said as he blocked my path. "We're going to teach you the real deal," he grinned roguishly, his blue eyes sparkling with mischief.
"But we have to help out at the bakery, and I have to put my books away," I protested, trying to worm my way out of it.
Rye chuckled. "You hear that, Leven? Peeta would rather frost pink cupcakes than learn from our wisdom."
"Rye, you have the wisdom of a bacterium. No, we're teaching him the Mellark men legacy. So you have no choice, Peeta. Dad passed it on to us, and now we're passing it on to you. Be grateful for it," Leven said.
"Dad already talked to me about that," I put out.
"Yes, but he didn't give you the dirty details," Rye winked.
"I don't need them," I insisted as I tried to shove my through.
Leven and Rye surprisingly allowed me to pass, until I realized that they had followed me upstairs, and before I knew it, we were all locked up in my room. It was then that I realized that I was stuck with them, and I sat down at the edge of my bed and sighed, resigned.
"We have something special that we're going to share with you," Leven began.
"You're lucky that we were able to collect enough money to buy it and that we're willing to show it to you," Rye added. It was then that I noticed that he still had his backpack on, and he shoved his hand in it after he slung it down his shoulder and unzipped it, taking out what looked to be a thin paperback book.
"What's that?" I asked, slightly intrigued.
"Capitol porn," Leven replied with a wide grin as Rye tossed it to me.
I caught the long, light book in my hands and instantly dropped it as I saw the cover. "Gah!" I screeched as I noticed the naked woman on the front. She was covered in weird tattoos and her skin was blue, her eyes overly elongated and her hair was bright green. It was the scariest thing I had ever seen in my entire life.
"Is that a mermaid or something?" I asked stupidly.
"No you little fuck, it's one of those naked chicks from the Capitol," Rye rolled his eyes as he picked it up.
"They only publish porn magazines at the Capitol, and the people there are kind of strange, but pussy is pussy and you have to take what you get," Leven explained calmly.
"Where did you guys get this?" I asked, horrified.
"It took us two months' worth of allowance between the two of us to buy it from that old drunk Haymitch," Rye answered, annoyed at my reaction.
"Look, the point is that we wanted to show you what women sort of look like and what to do with them when you finally get the chance," Leven told me as he took the magazine from Rye and began to flip through it.
"A-aren't we kind of young for this?" I stammered. Leven and Rye were only in middle school and they already considered themselves experts on the subject.
"Leven took a girl to the slag heap the other day, didn't you Leven?" Rye prodded him.
Leven nodded coolly. "Yeah, but we just kissed and stuff," he shrugged, as if it were no big deal that he had just gotten his first kiss. "Here, look at this page, Peeta, the people look a little more normal in it," he said as he handed it to me. I gulped, clutching the page as my eyes widened. It was a black-and-white photo of a man standing behind a woman as he sucked on her neck, her head thrown back as one of his hands covered her breast while the other snaked in between her legs.
"Uh…" was all I could say as my cheeks burned red.
"Yeah, it's pretty hot isn't it?" Leven smirked as he took the magazine back and I exhaled in relief.
"So wait, what's the Mellark men legacy?" I piped up, trying to change the subject.
"We're so glad you asked," Rye began cheerfully.
"There are three basic rules that you must follow," Leven turned to me.
"Number one is that you must make them beg for the loaf," Rye continued.
"Otherwise known as the bosco stick; and we're not talking about bread here," Leven grinned with malice. I shifted uncomfortably and looked away.
"Number two is that you must never, and I mean ever let the girl you want escape you, or else you'll end up settling like Dad," Rye said seriously.
"And trust us when we say that you don't want that, but considering the beating you got from Mom last night, you probably already know that," Leven added.
"The third and final rule is…" this time, Rye turned to Leven so that he could finish the sentence.
"Mellark men survive on bread and pussy," Leven finished triumphantly.
My face instantly paled. "W-what do y-you m-mean?" I stuttered.
My brothers instantly burst out laughing. "You heard us." Rye snickered.
"It means that not only do we put our loaves in their ovens, but we eat their sweet muffins out too," Leven elaborated.
My mouth dropped open. "You don't mean…?" I asked.
Leven gave me a toothy grin. "We Mellark men are the best at it, or at least according to Dad."
"How come Dad never mentioned this?" I exclaimed, my voice sounding two octaves higher than usual.
Leven shrugged. "He probably thought you were too young." I was jealous of his new deep voice. He even had some hair growing on his chin now too.
"Not to mention the fact that you act like a little princess," Rye sneered. I glared at him.
"But don't worry, we're going to teach you how to release your desire for that Seam girl," Leven said sympathetically.
"What?" I asked, pretending not to know who he was referring to.
"Don't play stupid, we know you have the hots for Katniss Everdeen, and if you were old enough, you would have a boner every time you saw her," Rye accused. He was really starting to get on my nerves.
"Yeah, why else would you be so willing to take a two-hour beating from Mom by burning the bread? We saw her sitting outside in the rain. You did it so that you could toss her that bread," Leven concluded.
"I had to save her, she was starving," I told them.
"Yeah, and you almost got killed for it," Rye pointed out.
"She was worth it," I growled.
"All right tiger, calm down," Leven interjected. "We already know that you like her, so don't even try to deny it because you practically just admitted it," he reasoned as he placed his hand on my shoulder.
I sighed. "Fine, but so what, it's not like she's ever going to notice me," I grumbled.
"Not with that attitude, she's not," Rye shot back.
"No one likes you either!" I yelled at him.
"Why, you little…" he nearly launched himself at me, but Leven stopped him as he stood up and held him back, and he was much bigger than Rye.
"Stop it, you two! We're trying to have a good conversation here," he coaxed as calmly as he could.
"He started it!" I hollered.
"I'm trying to help you, you ungrateful little twerp," Rye seethed.
"Rye, try to be nicer to our little brother," Leven suggested firmly.
"Why, because he's Daddy's favorite?" Rye said mockingly.
"Dad doesn't pick favorites, you know that," Leven tried to reason with him.
"I'll be damned if he doesn't," Rye spat.
"You're just jealous," I called out.
"Exactly, and if you can't talk without fighting, then you can go back down to the bakery and I'll finish talking to Peeta on my own," Leven warned him.
Rye clenched his jaw, but decided to remain with us as he settled back down. I half-suspected that it was so that he could continue to ridicule me. I wasn't wrong.
"Okay, so where were we?" Leven asked.
"Charming the pants off of Peeta's Seam slut," Rye replied.
This time, both Leven and I glowered at him, and I clenched my fists tightly. "Don't call her that," I hissed.
"Rye…" Leven warned.
"Fine, I'll behave. We were talking about what Peeta could do about his sappy crush for Miss Everdeen," he said sarcastically. "Better?"
Leven ignored his last question and turned to me, "Right, so you're hitting puberty soon, Peeta. Have you ever had any sexual thoughts about her?" he asked in his mature grown-up voice.
"No!" I shouted, appalled. "Okay, maybe I've had a few dreams," I admitted after a second.
"Have you ever rubbed one out?" Rye asked, amused.
"Of course not…" I said uncomfortably. My face turned hot; I knew that they would bring this up eventually.
"Well, maybe you should," Leven suggested. "It might help you feel better."
"But how do I get her to like me?" I asked.
"You talk to her, what else?" Rye said it as if it were obvious.
"But I'm scared that she'll turn me down," I whined.
"You're such a pansy," Rye scoffed.
"Just say hi to her or something, it's simple. Try to be nice to her; you're good at making friends. Have some faith in you," Leven smiled at me.
"What is this, some soap opera? Just tell him to stroke it until he gets tired of it and grows a pair and asks her out," Rye snorted as he stood up and left the room, muttering about how lame we were.
"Don't listen to him; do what feels good for you. Do you want to keep looking through the magazine?" Leven offered.
"His balls haven't even dropped yet!" Rye yelled from across the hall.
I frowned. "No, that's fine, you guys keep it. Those women kind of scare me, anyway," I shuddered. I would probably have nightmares tonight.
Leven chuckled. "All right, then. Let's go back to the bakery before Mom catches us," he said as he went back to his room and hid the magazine under a loose floorboard. "Don't tell anyone about it," he whispered.
I nodded. I would never betray him. I knew that Leven would do anything for me. At least that's what I used to believe back then.
That night, I lay back in my bed, thinking about Katniss and the things that my brothers had taught me, along with the things that I had learned at school today. There were mornings in which I would wake up with the sheets soaked with semen, and my mother would pull on my hair and tell me to wash them. Those were the nights in which I would dream about kissing Katniss and stroking her soft braid, but not much else. I couldn't help it if these things happened to me. But maybe Leven and Rye were right, and I needed to take matters into my own hands. I thought about what it would be like to touch her, to kiss her, to hold her….but it was all too overwhelming, and before I knew it, I came and soiled my sheets again. I groaned against my pillow. Maybe masturbating in bed wasn't such a great idea after all.
The years passed and my fantasies only became more intense. I would watch her from afar and fill my heart with longing, but then she would bite her lip and my cock would twitch. Before I knew it, I would walk around school with an ever-present boner, like Rye had predicted, and I had taken the habit of masturbating in the bathroom. I would sit in class with her only a row in front of mine, and I would stare at her endlessly, memorizing every aspect of her face and body: the curve of her waist, the mole on her neck, the swelling of her breast. But it was it her mysterious gray eyes that fascinated me the most, so deep in thought as they stared out through the window, like a caged bird yearning to spread its wings and escape into the forest.
"Hey, Peeta," a girl's voice purred into my ear, her hot breath on my neck. I turned to see that it was Gem Niche, one of the most sought-after girls in school.
"Um, hey," I said nervously.
She batted her long blonde eyelashes and twirled curly her hair as she looked down at my pants. I gulped. "Is that a loaf in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" she teased.
I blushed as I pulled my seat in further under the desk so that my waist was hidden from my view. She pouted. "Oh, come on, I could take care of that for you," her fingers lingered on my shoulder, and I pulled away quickly.
"No, thanks," I said evenly, turning back to see that Katniss was staring at me, but as soon as she had met my gaze, she had turned away. I sighed, exasperated. Great, now she probably thought I was with Gem.
"So I heard you could draw," Gem continued, smacking on her gum.
"Sort of, I mean, I mostly just decorate cakes at the bakery," I said.
"That's not all I heard," she giggled.
My eyes widened as I realized what she was implying. How had she found out about my drawings? My friend Nert met my gaze from across me, and he mouthed, "Sorry." I glared at him.
Gem must have noticed that I was upset, for she instantly retracted, "Oh, don't worry, I won't tell on you, Peeta. I was just hoping that you could do a drawing of me…nude," she intoned the last part, and I trembled.
My friend Blathe saw this and starting mouthing at me to say yes. I scowled at him too. It seemed that no one could keep a secret nowadays. Just because I had decided to draw out some of my fantasies and show those to my friends did not mean that I was a professional porn artist. The Capitol magazines that my older brothers had collected throughout the years just didn't do it for me. Of course, I also had some other, private sketches of Katniss, but those were ones that I kept to myself.
"What do you say, Peeta?" Gem asked as she stroked my shoulder once more. "I'll pay you," she added.
I looked at her in surprise. "Really?" I asked. No, no, what was I doing? But I really needed the money, I was running out of materials, and paints were expensive. Painting was my biggest passion; I enjoyed it much more than sketching or decorating cakes.
She grinned, flashing me her perfect white teeth. "Of course, you're an artist, Peeta. My father owns the painting shop, did you know that?" I had figured that she was a wealthy merchant, but not much else.
I shook my head dumbly. She smiled again. "Well, I could get you some new materials too. Here's my phone number. I'll come by your house at seven, call me if there's any change of plans," she said as the bell rang, not even allowing me to respond.
What had I just gotten myself into?
"Bitches love Peeta's loaf," Nert said as he approached me while I picked up my books.
"We can make a good business out of your art!" Blathe exclaimed.
"You two are in so much trouble," I growled.
To be continued…