A/N: Hi! I'm not a huge fan of Author's Notes so I'll make this quick. :) Just wanted to explain that when I said "Very AU", I wasn't joking. Although there are subtle links to the Canon world, the majority of this story follows two very out-of-character protagonists in a modern world. Hopefully, you'll still enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing. Thanks!
Hunger Games is owned by Suzanne Collins. All rights to the characters and their world are also hers.
Morning? Already? Get fucked.
Peeta squinted against the sunlight streaming through his window. It took all of a second to realize the fun he'd had last night would not transition so smoothly. Groaning, he slowly sat up and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. Cato and Finnick would be waiting for him in the lobby, no doubt; probably had more than one missed call on his phone too.
But that would have to wait. First – shower.
The additional onslaught of light in the bathroom made Peeta wince – he almost didn't notice the message written in bright red lipstick on the mirror. Almost:
555-345-443 – Call me! Glimmer xxx
The side of his mouth pulled up in a slight grin as he stepped under the hot streaming water.
So that was her name…I'll have to remember that when I tell the boys…
Twenty minutes and 3 asprins later, Peeta walked into the lobby. Dark shades covered half of his face - a scowl making up the difference. Seeing him enter, Finnick left his seat, meeting him half way.
"Finally! You know Mellark, if preventing the apocalypse relied on your punctuality, we'd all be zombies by now." He paused, looking Peeta up and down, "Or maybe vampires - judging from the Shaft impersonation you've got going on."
"It was a rough night."
"Didn't Glimmer promise you it would be?" Finnick countered, winking.
"Oh fucked if I know the specifics." Peeta grumbled, "And how the hell do you remember these girls' names all the fucking time? I can barely remember my own."
"And that's why your Mum still sews it into your undies, right?"
"Yeah. Spot on Finn. Got it in one." Peeta rolled his eyes behind his glasses. "Now can we please get some breakfast? Or lunch? Or whatever fucking food is acceptable at whatever time of day it is?"
Now it was Finnick's turn to roll his eyes. "Once again, your aversion to being where you say you'll be, when you say you'll be there, has left us late and stranded." He turned and started for the lobby doors, motioning for Peeta to follow him, "The meeting? With Enobaria Records?"
"Ohhhh fuck." Peeta picked up his pace to match Finnick's, "I suppose that's where Cato is?"
"Obviously." Finnick paused, and shot him a sideways glance, "And I suppose you are intending on feigning some sort of jet lag and secretly sleeping through the whole thing?"
Peeta grinned, and then winced, clutching the side of his head, "Mr Odair, you just know me too well."
"Not half obvious it's your shout tonight."
What a fucking piece of shit that 3 hours was.
"…don't you think, Mr Mellark?"
Peeta smiled uneasily.
Shit. Fuck. Shit.
"Of course he does!" Cato chimed in, slapping Peeta on the back. Hard. "…that's why he's so quiet today – he can't help but think about music."
"…I mean, it's in his blood, ya know? Forget food. Forget sleep. Forget girls. Peeta is just 100% music, 100% of the time."
Ok…let's not get crazy over here…
"I mean, even in that meeting – I guarantee Peeta was caught up in his head, planning out the next melody for our album." Cato grinned purposefully at Peeta, "I doubt he even heard a word you said, he would've been that out of it."
Annnd…too far. Cheers, asshole.
The executive in front of them stared at Peeta, then at Cato, and then at Peeta again – unsure whether the shorter, leaner of the pair was being sarcastic. Peeta took the opportunity to turn it around.
"Ha ha…yeah, Cato wishes! Then maybe he wouldn't have to pull his own weight in the studio!" he forced a laugh and slapped Cato on the back. Hard.
The man laughed, and put a strong hand on Peeta's shoulder. "You guys…you're really something else."
He turned to walk away, motioning for his assistant – a young pretty red head who had not gone unnoticed by Peeta during their marathon stint in the office – to catch up with him.
"I'll get Faux to draw up the papers. Welcome to your Capitol representation, boys."
Peeta and Cato kept their pose until their new boss had rounded the corner. Just.
"What the fuck, Cato? That had better have been some District 2 side-effect that had you throwing me under the bus there."
Cato grabbed his jacket off of a nearby chair and slung it over his shoulder. "Yeah because the fact that you spent half of the meeting sleeping, and the other half gawking at the girl in the corner-"
"I believe her name is Faux." Finnick closed the office door behind him and moved forward, "And it wasn't her he was staring at – is was the missing button on her blouse – isn't that right, Peeta?"
"Finnick, this isn't always something you can make a joke out of. Peeta's antics were funny when we were teenagers and didn't give a fuck. Now it's just a pain in the ass, and-"
"Right here, Cato. Right the fuck here."
Cato looked pointedly at Peeta, "…and quite frankly, Peeta, I'm sick of having to cover for you."
The two men stared each other down, neither one having much to say, but sensing that walking away first would be a loss. It was Finnick that broke the silence.
"Right. Ok. Bullshit aside…" He hesitated, shifting from one foot to the other, "…Cato maybe has a point."
É tu, Finnick?
"…But." He continued, "I really don't think this is the time or the place."
Cato sighed, and eased his stance. "Valid point."
But Peeta was still mad, "This is fucked. How about I just see you guys tomorrow." It was a statement, not a question.
"Sure, Peeta. Whatever." Finnick shrugged, "See you later."
He'd only been in the district for just over 24 hours – the only place he knew was the club they'd been to last night; the place he'd met Glimmer. And he sure as hell didn't want a repeat. So Peeta didn't quite know where he was heading when he flung the front doors open and marched down the stairs of Enobaria Records. It was dusk by now – too late to be a tourist, and too early to be a trouble-maker.
Alcohol it is.
Not fussy, he walked about half a block and stopped outside of a brick-fronted pub – The Hob. Noting there was a good amount of people, and a decent choice of music, he walked inside. Immediately his eyes scanned the room, looking for a potential friend for the evening.
No. No. Eh…maybe. Ugh. HA! …Bingo.
Katniss sat at the bar, sipping her third vodka and raspberry. Looking at the crowd gradually forming around her, she considering getting up to leave. Half of the pub's patrons seemed to be on a mission to have an emission, and the other half were couples thoroughly intent on turning her into an unwilling voyeuristic participant. Neither of these were appealing prospects.
She downed the rest of her drink in one go, and slung her bag over her shoulder.
"Hi, I'm Peeta…can I get you another one?"
What do we have here?
Katniss looked at the man beside her inquisitively: short blonde hair, big blue eyes, fairly tall frame and a genuinely cute accent. He flashed a smile, which only added another tick to his list.
Not altogether unimpressive.
She paused, intrigued. Perhaps another drink was in order.
A pretty blonde two seats down held out her hand, "Satin. And yes you may. Bicardi and coke, please."
Katniss suppressed a grin, and kept her gaze forward.
"So…that accent – where are you from?"
"Just a few districts over. I'm here with some friends." Peeta sat down and got himself a beer. "And what's a pretty thing like you doing all alone in a place like this?"
Katniss stifled a laugh, making a slightly-too-loud cough instead. Peeta turned quickly to glance in her direction before turning his back again.
Satin quietly sipped her drink, unwilling to do much other than smile coyly.
What a pro!
She turned just in time to see the large, steroid-infused man return from the bathroom.
"What the fuck is this shit?!" Steroid-Man glared at Peeta, putting his arm around the petite blonde.
Peeta turned his head, looking from one to the other. Katniss imagined a look of disbelief; of rejection – perhaps even a tad bit of envy? Instead, he swung around on his stool, looked down at the counter and just shook his head.
"Dude, I really cannot be fucked right now."
"Was this dick buying you drinks, babe?! Who the fuck does he think he is?!"
Steroid-Man looked as though he was about to unleash his anabolic super-powers, and the bartenders seemed to be at the ready in case anything happened. But Peeta just looked…tired.
Can't say I'm not intrigued…
Eventually his counterpart's unwillingness to react seemed to bore the man, and he and Satin left. To an upstairs room with a bed and two hours paid in advance, presumably.
After their departure, Katniss and Peeta sat in silence for a while. She contemplated saying something, but didn't want to be intrusive, or worse – boring – and was about to resume the act of going home early when he suddenly looked up.
"You knew about him, didn't you?"
She smiled slightly, and cocked her head to one side. "If you're referring to Robo-Roid, then…it's possible I'd seen them on the brink of public indecency a few minutes prior to your arrival."
Peeta returned the smile, and shook his head again, "Cheers for the head's up."
"You seemed like a man on a mission…besides, who was I to interrupt such poetic gold?"
"I'll have you know I am an absolute charmer." He'd turned to face her properly now, and she'd be lying if she said his good looks weren't startling.
"…And what's a pretty thing like you doing all alone in a place like this?" Katniss mimicked, batting her eyelashes, "Really? Really?"
He laughed, and ordered another beer.
"Oh! And light beer! Watching the calories now too, are we?" She gestured towards the long-neck in Peeta's hand.
"I'll have you know Beer Bloatage is a real problem amongst the male drinking population!"
"It's the silent mood-killer, I'm sure."
"Well, what are you drinking that's so much more appropriate?"
"Ohhh no, buddy. You're not buying me a drink – I already know the lines to follow are unimpressive"
Peeta faked an indignant look, and took a swig of his beer. "And what would you suggest I do to better my game?"
Katniss paused, playing with the straw in her now-empty glass. "Oh I don't know if you could pull it off…I'm sure you've realized already that my sheer prowess is overwhelming."
Peeta grinned and lent in, "I'll give it my best shot, then."
"Ok. If you're sure. Ready?"
"The first one is very simple…you walk up to a girl, and tap her on the shoulder. Nothing fancy. And then you lean in." She moved closer to Peeta, "And you whisper, real sweet – I'm not Fred Flinstone, but I'll make your Bedrock."
Peeta's head swung back and he laughed. "Oh yeah, I don't know how I could ever pull that one off." He grinned.
"You're probably right – don't want to set the bar too high too soon." Katniss thought for a moment. "Maybe this one – same concept, but a little more likely."
She lent in again, a small smile playing on her features. "So, uh, if you'll regret this in the morning – we can sleep 'till the afternoon."
They both laughed this time, and Katniss pushed her glass towards the bartender.
"As if that shit would ever actually work on anyone." Peeta commented, his laughter having subsided, "Unless your end goal is a well-rounded slap."
"Oh I don't know…" Katniss started, "I think it has honest potential."
"So a guy comes up to you, and says either of those lines…your response is to throw yourself at him?"
Katniss scoffed, "My reaction is neverto throw myself at someone." She grinned, "But – depending on the level of sleaze adopted during its delivery…I'd most likely introduce myself…"
Peeta stared at her, unconvinced.
"It's a good icebreaker!" Katniss insisted, "Provided you don't give off pervert vibes!"
"Is that why I still don't know your name? Pervert vibes?"
Ooh. Well played.
"Ha. What you send out is more akin to having Desperado by The Eagles playing as your theme song."
"Ouch!" Peeta feigned hurt, holding his hand over his heart, "That one cut me deep!"
"You going to need a band aid?" she smiled, extending her arm, "I'm Katniss."
The clock above his head caught her attention, and she groaned. "And that, dear Peeta, is my cue to get out of here."
"What?" he turned around, checking the time, "It's only 6:30! Where could you possibly have to go?"
Katniss stood up, flashing him a grin.
"Unsolved mystery." She turned to leave, hesitating ever so slightly.
"Could I get your number or something?"
Katniss paused, "How about…I'll be here with my best friend on Friday night – around 7. If you want to catch up, I'll see you then."
"7pm, Friday night. Here." Peeta repeated.
She nodded, smiling again, "Have a good one, Peeta."
Katniss swung the door open, and was hit with a big gust of cool night air. She fought the urge to look back, instead making her way to the nearest empty cab.