Disclaimer: I do not own THE HUNGER GAMES. It all belongs to Suzanne Collins.

Chapter 1

BANG! BANG! BANG!

"What the fuck?" Katniss Everdeen shot straight out of bed, the pounding noise disrupting her slumber. She glared at the angry blocked numbers that shone red through the darkness, which let her know that it was past two o'clock in the morning. Flipping over on the mattress, Katniss buried her head into her pillows, trying to will herself back to sleep, but the beating on her door continued. And now that Katniss was awake, she could hear a faint buzzing sound emanating from her nightstand. Groaning, she leaned over and scooped up her cell phone, the small square screen lit up with seventeen missed calls. "Shit."

Katniss rolled out of bed, yawning as she did so, and made her way out of her bedroom toward the front door of her apartment, her feet stepping on the ends of her overly large sweatpants as she did so. Groaning once more as she heard the knocking again, Katniss swung open the door to reveal the grinning face of her best friend, Peeta Mellark.

"Took you long enough," Peeta said as he let himself into her apartment, brushing by her with a quick squeeze of her shoulders. "I was only waiting out there for twenty minutes. Not to mention, I called you about eight billion times."

"I was asleep, you moron," Katniss retorted. "And my phone was on vibrate. What are you even doing here?"

"Needed a place to crash," Peeta said simply.

"Katniss?"

Katniss spun around quickly at the sound of her name. Behind her stood her roommate, Madge Undersee, blonde hair mused and sleep in her eyes.

"What's going on? What was all that noise?"

"Sorry, Madge. It was nothing. Just Peeta being his annoying self. He's going to stay here tonight. Go back to bed."

"M'kay," Madge mumbled and tottered her way down the hallway back to her room.

Katniss turned back to Peeta and followed him into the depths of her apartment, watching as he unceremoniously dropped onto the couch. She appraised his bloodshot blue eyes and messy blond hair. He was obviously already dressed for bed in sweatpants and a baggy, plain white t-shirt that she knew hid a well toned body.

"I didn't mean to wake Madge up," Peeta said quietly.

"Though clearly you have no problem disrupting my sleep," Katniss replied sarcastically. "You have other friends, you know. You don't need to call me every time your homeless ass needs refuge."

"But none of my other friends are nearly as pleasant as you when woken in the middle of the night."

Katniss rolled her eyes at Peeta's response, but she couldn't lie and say she didn't enjoy their banter. "Why do you need a place to stay this time?"

"Gale came back with a guest and he wished to entertain her."

"So you were sexiled."

Peeta smirked. "You say that like this is the first time."

At that statement, Katniss snorted. She was too aware of the details of the sex lives of both Gale and Peeta. The first because Peeta turned up on her doorstep practically weekly looking for shelter and the latter because Peeta was her best friend; they told each other everything.

"It's fucking Wednesday, Peeta. And it's almost 2:30 in the morning. You couldn't ask him to keep it in his pants?"

Peeta's eyes widened dramatically. "I can't be a cock block! That goes against the male code."

Katniss rolled her eyes again and made toward the closet to get Peeta clean sheets for the pullout couch. "Did he at least know her name this time?"

"Oh yeah." Peeta's mouth lifted slightly at the corners. "He definitely knew her name. It was Delly."

Katniss eyes snapped back to Peeta's in an instant. "Delly? As in Delly Cartwright? As in your ex?"

Peeta laughed as he got up and started throwing the couch cushions into the corner. He used one hand to glide the bed gently from its concealed position. "Yup. And you can take that shocked and disgusted look off your face. I'm perfectly fine if he wants a go at my sloppy seconds."

"Peeta!" Katniss scolded as she aimed a couple pillows at his head. Peeta just laughed harder and ducked out of the way before grabbing at the cushions on the floor in retaliation. Soon, it became a full-fledged pillow fight, each attacking the other with vigor and attempting to keep their shrieks at low volume. Ten minutes later, they fell exhaustedly onto the bed, Katniss head resting on Peeta's shoulders while his arms wrapped around her waist.

They both breathed heavily and remained in silence until Peeta spoke. "If you really don't want me to bother you every time I need a place to stay, I won't."

"No, Peeta," Katniss said, shaking her head against his body. "It's not that. I like when you stay here. It's just…sometimes I think it's a little insensitive to Madge."

"Shit," Peeta groaned. "I didn't even think about that. Do you think she knows why I come here?"

Katniss shrugged. "We've never really talked about it. But she must have some idea. Don't you think?"

"Unless she thinks I'm just your booty call."

"Ha ha, Peeta. Very funny," Katniss deadpanned.

"Yeah, that's not very believable is it?" Peeta questioned, looking down at his best friend lying in his arms. He loved Katniss, just not in that way. It wasn't that he didn't find her attractive; it was just that thinking about her in that way made him uncomfortable. Being best friends with someone since kindergarten doesn't tend to help in the romance department. But he wouldn't trade Katniss for anything and he knew that she felt the same way about him.

"Would she say anything if it was bothering her?"

Katniss thought for a moment, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth. "Probably not. She's trying to pretend that the breakup doesn't bother her anymore, but I know that it does. She's trying to hide it from me because she doesn't want it to affect my friendship with Gale."

"Great," Peeta sighed sardonically. "Madge is holding everything in and Gale is trying to take his mind off of it by fucking everything in a skirt."

"We have great friends, don't we?"

"Some things are just tough to move on from," Peeta's voice dropped to a whisper. "How are you doing, by the way?"

Katniss exhaled, her exhaustion suddenly feeling overwhelming. She closed her eyes against the automatic threat of tears. She knew Peeta didn't mean to upset her. This was just her innate reaction to that question these days because it made her think about things she'd rather never think about.

"As well as I can be doing, I suppose," she replied. "I still have to fight tears on a daily basis because I miss him so much. But at least I'm able to drag my ass out of bed every morning."

"I'm proud of you, Kat," Peeta whispered into her ear, tightening his grip on her waist and bringing her closer. "Your dad would be proud of you too."

A tear escaped Katniss's grip and rolled daintily down her cheek. "Thanks, Peeta."

Peeta carefully wiped away the few traitorous tears, his heart breaking knowing how much pain she was in. "Lets talk about something else. Prim's coming this weekend. You must be excited to see her."

"Of course. But I haven't really seen her since a couple days after Dad's funeral. I'm scared we're going to end up spending the weekend locked in my room bawling our eyes out."

"I won't allow it," Peeta stated, shaking his head. "I also haven't seen Prim since then so I will provide enough entertainment to keep you both sufficiently distracted."

Katniss yawned, her entire mouth stretched wide open. "You're the best," she told Peeta with a lazy drawl. "Now I need to go to bed because it's past three and you've already taken enough time away from my beauty sleep."

Katniss climbed out of his bed, looking as if the movement took great effort. "Night, Peeta," she called over her shoulder as she shuffled her feet back to her bedroom, looking forward to finally getting the rest she so desired. Once there, she fell face first onto the mattress and passed out before she had the opportunity to summon the strength to pull the comforter over her body.

She was awoken by Peeta several hours later, his hands gripping her shoulders tightly and his pale face swimming in her vision. Katniss gasped for air and lay immobile, still paralyzed by fear from her nightmare.

"Thank god, Katniss," Peeta said. "You scared the shit out of me. You were screaming and shaking and you wouldn't wake up."

At the sound of Peeta's voice, Katniss's paralysis broke and she burst into tears, tremendous sobs wracking her body. Peeta gathered her in his arms and brought her into his chest, rocking her back and forth as though she was a small child.

"You're still having nightmares?" Peeta asked. "Why was this one so bad?"

"It – it was the s-same one I always h-have," Katniss cried into Peeta's shirt. "With the e-e-elevator. But this time P-Prim was inside! It's never been Prim! It's al-always m-my d-dad or me. I watched the elevator d-drop and I h-heard her screams, but I couldn't do anything t-to s-save her!"

"Shh, Katniss," Peeta whispered reassuringly. "It's okay."

"Why Prim, Peeta?" Katniss shouted into the early morning. "Why did I have to see Prim like that? Why did I have to watch her die?"

"It was just a dream, Katniss," Peeta told her. "Just a dream. Prim's fine. You're fine. And I'm here. I'm here for you. Always."