The bed issue didn't turn out to be much of a problem. Peeta immediately conceded the bed to Katniss and she accepted with surprisingly little fight. Both were thinking back to the incident in the hotel room and felt safer going their separate ways, though Katniss did feel slightly guilty when she heard him toss and turn in the middle of the night. And that is how they remained until a week before classes started: Katniss curled into a ball on the mattress and Peeta extended on the much too small sofa, knees hooked over one arm of the couch.
The whole "living together" thing was easy as well, although they had a lot of practice from all those nights Peeta would bunk out in Katniss's apartment. To put it simply, Peeta was in charge of the cooking while Katniss did all the cleaning, both appreciative for their roommate's skill in the respective areas. Katniss would rave over Peeta's chocolate peanut-butter cupcakes while Peeta sheepishly admitted he never cleaned a toilet before in his life.
In the few weeks that passed, Katniss and Peeta had returned to their old status quo, their friendship falling smoothly back into place. Everything was so easy again, so normal, that Peeta started to question his crush on Katniss, choosing to believe it was a spur of the moment feeling that had evaporated as quickly as it came on. However, he still wasn't confident enough to request a spot on the bed. Overall, it was just nice to laugh with each other again, to forget all the nuisance and danger and just have a little bit of fun.
They were brave enough to leave their apartment and had spent their free time scoping out the neighboring area, writing down the location of things that they might need later, such as the grocery store and the locally owned deli. Today, they were on their way to the campus bookstore. Haymitch had informed them that the FBI had enrolled them in classes, but that they were responsible for buying their textbooks. Luckily, the bookstore had an off-campus location that was only a five-minute walk from their apartment (the FBI took the car back claiming that it was an unnecessary high risk).
"I hate buying textbooks," Katniss complained, as she walked through the door Peeta was holding open for her. "They are so damn expensive."
"Agreed," Peeta said, trotting along behind her while glancing around the store. It was a fairly simple layout. The store consisted of two floors, the top containing clothing with the university's logo and various school supplies such as pencils and calculators while the bottom floor was dedicated solely to books. "You know which books you need?"
"Yup," Katniss said, waving her list in front of his face. They turned a corner and were faced with rows upon rows of heavy textbooks. "But damn, they're going to be hard to find. It's like a library in here and I was never good at the Dewey Decimal System."
Peeta chuckled and handed her a basket in which she could carry her books. "Then lets split up. I'll get my books and meet you at the cash register."
Katniss wasn't listening, barely nodding her head while staring at her list and wondering off down one of the rows. After a couple of turns, she quickly wished she were taller. The bookcases towered over her, making her feel slightly claustrophobic. The store had tried to set up some sort of alphabetical organization, but it snaked along with the rows, confusing Katniss's sense of direction. And the room seemed endless, stretching out for eternity at every turn. Katniss looked at her list once more before huffing in frustration.
She heard a small chortle off to her right and spun quickly in that direction, coming face to face with a tall, well-built, bronze haired guy in dark wash jeans and a polo shirt. Katniss had to do a double take. The boy was perfectly coiffed and looked like he came straight from an Abercrombie catalogue. "Do you think my frustration is funny?" she demanded.
"No," the boy said, smiling to reveal a set of perfectly straight and white teeth, a dimple just appearing above the corner of his mouth. "I'm sorry. Do you need any help?"
"I'm fine, thanks," Katniss said, blushing slightly and looking away. "I don't need you to feel bad for me."
"No," the boy laughed again, taking a step closer. "I work here so helping you is kind of my job."
He pointed toward his shirt where Katniss just noticed the small logo that was plastered on the outside awning stitched along his left breast. Katniss felt her cheeks flooding with warmth again. "Sorry," she muttered. "It's just this place is like a freaking maze."
"It's okay," the boy said. "I surprisingly get that a lot. I'm Finnick, by the way. Finnick Odair." He stuck out his hand.
"Katniss Mellark," Katniss said, fully aware that this was the first time she was introducing herself as such. She grabbed Finnick's hand gently, unable to break eye contact with his sea green eyes. Finnick smirked when he noticed this.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Katniss. How about I take a look at your list?"
Meanwhile, Peeta was having no issues finding his textbooks for his classes. Luckily for him, each book was located in the same row, so he didn't need to travel anywhere. After placing his final book in his basket, he decided to search for Katniss and see if she needed any help. That's what any good husband would do, right? So Peeta hurried off down the aisle he saw Katniss had turned earlier.
It didn't take long to find her. Peeta barely had to look around the edge of the bookshelf to spot her by the biology textbooks. But she wasn't alone. Peeta froze as he took in the sight of his wife laughing at something some puffed up pretty boy had said, tossing her braid over her shoulder as she did so. And judging by that all too charming smile on the guy's face, he was clearly enjoying what he saw. Peeta's jaw clenched as he stood there glaring at the pair, unsure of what was happening and what to do. All he knew was that he had to get that boy away from Katniss as quickly as possible. Katniss was his and he wasn't willing to share, especially with some slicked back frat boy who thought he was the shit. He watched as the boy's eyes dipped to the low cut shirt Katniss wore and Peeta swore her pants had gotten tighter since the morning. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Peeta recognized that the wall he had rebuilt to hide his feelings for Katniss had shattered to pieces once again, but he honestly couldn't care less. The longer he stood there staring, the more his blood boiled, his vision blurring slightly at the edges. When Katniss touched the stranger's arm with a playful shove, Peeta's body took action, marching over to the pair that was, in his opinion, standing much too close to one another.
"Hey, babe," Peeta said, blurting out the first thing he thought of when he reached Katniss's side, interrupting whatever the jackass was saying. Katniss's eyes widened at his voice, her head swinging quickly in his direction, looking somewhat startled. That was not the right response to get this guy to back off, so Peeta decided to take it one step farther. Before he could second-guess himself, Peeta grabbed the back of Katniss's head with his free hand, bringing his face towards hers and crashing their lips together. Katniss gasped and Peeta took the opportunity to slide his tongue into her mouth, tilting his head further to deepen the kiss. It was the same feeling he got from their first kiss. All heat and desire and electricity bubbling out from the center of his chest. But Peeta was all too aware of the guy standing behind him so he broke away long before he wanted to, turning to face the nameless boy while sliding his arm around Katniss's waist.
To Peeta's chagrin, the boy was still grinning, as though Peeta was just some insignificant speck that he just needed to flick away before he had Katniss all too himself. "Well, Miss Mellark," the boy started and Peeta tried to suppress the smile he got from learning that Katniss had used his name, "you didn't mention you had a boyfriend."
"Husband, actually," Peeta smirked, flashing his ring. "So that's Mrs. Mellark to you."
That finally wiped the grin off the guy's face and Peeta watched with pleasure as the guy's eyes flitted down to Katniss's ring finger, widening when he saw the band. Peeta felt a sense of pride when he saw the ring himself.
"Look at that, Kitty Kat. I didn't know you were house trained."
Katniss still hadn't recovered from the kiss, staring blatantly at Peeta, red in the face, but Peeta growled lowly at the statement. "Don't talk to my wife like that."
The boy put his hands up in defense, taking a small step back. "I'll leave you two to it then," he said, flashing one more smile. "Just don't get too frisky. Remember, you're still in a public place. But please," he looked once more at Katniss, "call me if you need anything more, Kitty Kat."
Peeta glared until the boy's back disappeared behind one of the shelves, finally relaxing when his heel disappeared from sight. He let his shoulders fall as he turned to look at Katniss, who seemed anything but pleased. Her patented scowl was on her face, cheeks flushed, and eyes narrowed. She tore herself out of Peeta's grip and sped off toward the cash registers. Peeta sighed heavily and followed behind in her wake.
They didn't say anything to each other as they paid for their books and headed outside. Once there, however, Katniss yanked Peeta into a nearby ally, pulling him deep within the shadows between the two buildings.
"Ow! Katniss!" Peeta said, massaging his wrist after Katniss released him.
"Are you crazy?" Katniss asked, spinning on her heels to face him.
"Just stop with the whole caveman act," Katniss said. She still couldn't believe what Peeta did in there. It was so immature and out of line. She didn't know what came over him to be so territorial about her. She had never seen him do anything like that, not even with his past girlfriends. "Are you trying to draw attention to us?"
"You got to be kidding me right now," Peeta said, his mouth open in disbelief. "You're mad at me? That guy was all over you!"
"Finnick was just being nice."
Peeta snorted. "He called you Kitty Kat."
"Besides," Katniss stressed, "even if he was, I can take care of myself. I don't need you to stand there measuring your dick just to prove a point. We're trying to blend in, Peeta."
"Blend in?" Peeta was incredulous. "It would have been stranger if I had done nothing! I'm your husband. I'm supposed to be protective."
"Well, you didn't have to kiss me."
Peeta took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. Katniss's last statement burned, but Peeta was determined to get through to her. "I don't think you understand what's going on here, Katniss. If anyone brought unwanted attention to us, it was you."
Katniss opened her mouth to argue, but Peeta held his hand up and continued on forcibly.
"Your safety, hell, my safety is dependent upon us being in love. If you were in love with me, Kat, you wouldn't stare, mouth hanging wide open, when I call you something as simple as babe. And you especially wouldn't avoid a kiss as though my tongue was laced with cyanide."
"Peeta – "
"I don't want to hear it. You know, I didn't appreciate you flirting in there and don't say you weren't. I'm not stupid. I know what flirting looks like. I'd just like to think that after all the shit we've been through to get here, you'd put a little more effort into keeping up our cover. I'm here because of you, Kat. It's a goddamn mess, but I don't regret it. Not for one second. You know I'd give up anything for you."
"Peeta – "
"So don't yell at me for doing what any red-blooded male would do when he sees his wife talking to another guy like that, especially when the guy looks like how that guy looked. I'm not sorry I kissed you. And you better get used to it because it won't be the last time I do so, either." Peeta finished his rant with heavy breath. He hadn't realized exactly how much Katniss's behavior bothered him until he was practically screaming at her. He felt slightly guilty for doing so, especially when half of his anger originated from feelings she had no idea he had, but he also had to make her understand what exactly she agreed to when she said yes to his proposal all those weeks ago.
Katniss watched as Peeta exploded, releasing his anger that was properly aimed at her. She didn't know why exactly she acted the way she had in the bookstore. The past few weeks she had been feeling funny, with all this pent up sexual energy, and she thought Finnick would be a perfect place to let it all out. She suddenly found it hard to meet Peeta's eye. "Peeta, you're right."
"I'm what?" Peeta's eyes snapped directly to Katniss's face. She could feel his penetrating gaze.
Katniss cleared her throat once. "I said you're right. I wasn't thinking about all of that and I should've been. I'm just not as good at this acting thing as you are."
Peeta swallowed, cringing slightly on the word acting.
"I'll do better. I promise," Katniss continued. "Just…maybe give me a warning next time you're about to kiss me?"
Katniss looked up at Peeta pleadingly, her eyes bright. Peeta smiled slightly, cursing himself for not being able to stay angry with her.
Katniss relaxed, the corners of her mouth pulling slightly. "Coming?" Katniss reached out a hand toward Peeta.
Peeta stared at the hand for a solid thirty seconds, surprised at the offering, before taking it in his, enveloping her small palm in his warmth. They walked off together out of the ally, their fingers intertwining.
Later that night, when they were getting ready to go to sleep, Katniss surprised Peeta once again. "You can sleep in the bed if you want."
Peeta froze, halfway between sitting and standing over the sofa. "What?"
"Sleep in the bed…if you want."
"I'm not letting you take the couch, Katniss," Peeta said. He knew this conversation would come up at some point.
"No," Katniss said, tucking her chin to her chest and blushing profusely. "I meant share the bed…with me."
"Oh." Peeta was speechless and he wondered if the question was a trap. Even if it wasn't, sharing a bed with Katniss could end up being a very bad idea. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah. I mean…we don't know how long we'll be stuck here and I can't let you sleep on that couch the whole time."
When Peeta didn't move, Katniss sighed, sliding under the covers and patting the spot next to her. "It's not a big deal, Peeta. Just…stay on your side."
"If you're sure," Peeta mumbled, walking over to the open side of the bed. His side. He realized something had changed that day in the ally and he wasn't sure if it was a good change yet. He glanced once more at Katniss, who was already lying down with her eyes closed, before lifting the covers and settling down beside her.
Author's Notes: I actually had this chapter finished several days ago, but my internet was down and a man had to come to my house to replace the router. So I apologize for the wait, but hopefully it wasn't too long. Let me know what you think. Anything you write is extremely helpful.