Chapter VIII

After a few dances, Peeta and I break away from the crowds inside and move to one of the quieter rooms. The drinks have definitely been flowing freely and a good majority of the partygoers are very intoxicated. Gale and Johanna have officially lost enough inhibition and are currently occupying each others mouths on the back porch. My best friend making out…there's an image I could definitely live without. Annie and the tall blonde from the bonfire are dancing closely, Jason, I learned his name is. Over the course of the night I've seen Finnick casting angry glares their way before downing another glass of anything with a high alcohol content. Now Finnick is completely trashed, barely able to stand on his own.

He stumbles over to where Peeta and I are situated. I'm sitting on the kitchen counter and Peeta leans against the wall across from me. He crashes into Peeta and holds him tight. "I just love you man." Apparently Finnick is an emotional drunk. Peeta pats him on the shoulder. "No seriously Peet. You're my best friend and I just love you." Peeta chuckles but responds as seriously as possible, "Love you too man."

Finnick lets out a broken chuckle, broken by drunken hiccups. "I just realized…Katniss is dressed like a cat…" more laughter, "and Peeta is dressed like a fish…" his laughter has changed to gasping, "it's funny because cats eat fish…and our little kitty Kat here well she seems like the kind of girl who could eat you alive..." he brings up his hands to form claws, "she vicious." He growls and roars a few times before laughing again. "Hah…cats eat fish…" his tone suddenly changes from light and happy to deep and sensual, "although in this little situation it really should be the other way around." He waggles his eyebrows suggestively and sends a wink in my direction. My cheeks flush crimson and a side glance in Peeta's direction shows that his are doing the same. "Just some food for thought." Finnick chuckles, a deep throaty sound, before stumbling off into another room.

Awkward silence fills the room and a few minutes pass before either one of us is able to break it. "I'm sorry about Finnick." Peeta starts. "Not only does he get all emotional when he's drunk but he also gets even more inappropriate. Really I'm sorry, he shouldn't have implied that…I'm sorry." He stumbles through his apology obviously avoiding Finnick's earlier implication. "It's alright Peeta—"

A loud crash followed by shouting interrupts our conversation. Concern takes over Peeta's features. We move swiftly from the kitchen and into the living room. The crowd has circled and are shouting loudly, chanting 'fight'. Peeta pushes into the crowd and I follow him. Once through I see Finnick and the blonde man Jason in a brawl on the floor. Fists are flying, bodies are tangled, and grunts abound. Annie stands at the edge of the circle, her mouth is moving but I can't hear her words over the noise of the crowd. Free flowing alcohol and the excitement of a fight are not a good combination. Peeta pushes into the fight trying to pull the boys apart. He struggles, managing to only separate them for a few seconds at a time before they get their hands on each other again. I see Gale's brown hair bobs through the crowd and he jumps quickly to Peeta's aid. A few minutes later Gale has a firm grip on Jason and Peeta on Finnick.

"Finnick calm the hell down!" Peeta bellows over the quieting crowd. His muscles ripple as he struggles to keep Finnick still. Now is not the time but it sure is distracting.

"He was kissing her!" Finnick shouts. "That's not really a good cause for a fight Finnick!" Peeta argues in return. "No Peeta he was kissing her, touching her, and she was asking him to slow down. But he wasn't. I couldn't just stand by Peet! He was going to hurt her I know it!" The whole crowd is silent now. I glance over to Annie whose face is glistening with tears. Quickly I step to her and wrap her in my arms like I would with Prim whenever she was sad. Annie lets her head fall to my shoulder and her body heaves with quiet sobs.

"You son of a bitch!" Finnick continues, "If someone says no then you respect the hell out of that!" He's furious. I'd never know such rage could come from the laid back, cocky man I'd come to know as Finnick Odair. And he certainly is a change from the intoxicated, slurring, emotional and inappropriate man from just a few minutes ago. Jason isn't even defending himself, just struggling against Gale's strong grasp.

"Finnick settle down so we can deal with this." Peeta shakes Finnick while still maintaining a firm hold on Finnick's body. Annie still sobs quietly into my shoulder, occasionally broken by a soft hiccup. Finnick calms slightly and Peeta hesitantly releases his hold. Finnick shakes Peeta off and steps forward, getting right in Jason's face. His teeth bared, Finnick practically spits the words, "Get the hell out of my house and don't even think about coming near her ever again." With that Finnick nods for Gale to escort Jason from the house, he follows close behind with Peeta trailing just in case another fight should break out.

I turn my attention to the girl in my arms, "Annie are you alright? Did he hurt you at all?" She hiccups again but shakes her head. "No, I'm fine. Finnick found us before anything happened." Thank goodness. She sniffles a few times and lets out another chocked sob. I shush her soothingly and rub my hand gently over her back.

The boys re-enter the living room, minus Jason. Gale returns to Johanna's side putting one hand on her shoulder. Peeta remains a few steps behind Finnick but lets his eyes roam over to where I stand, holding Annie in my arms. Finnick is the first to speak, his usual charm making an appearance but I can tell it is strained. "Sorry about the disturbance. How about we get back to enjoying our Halloween?" Affirmative mummers float through the crowd as Finnick walks back to the stereo and puts on another song and plays it loud. Quickly enough to awkward tension dissipates and people return to their drinks and dance partners. Laughter and chatter once again fills the house. Johanna and Gale are back to dancing but I still remain in a tight embrace with Annie. I quietly usher her from the room and into the upstairs washroom to clean her up.

Her mascara is everywhere, effectively transforming her costume into that of a raccoon instead of a mermaid. I grab a washcloth and wet it with warm water and clean off the running smudges. I rifle through the bathroom cupboards till I find a bag of makeup. I try to mimic Prim's actions on me earlier. I focus completely on my task and force my hand steady. I'm pretty proud of myself by the time I'm finished, Annie actually doesn't look half bad.

"Thank you Katniss." Annie whispers. "You're welcome." She sniffles a few times. "He seemed like such a nice guy…I don't understand what happened. One moment he was being so sweet, then he was kissing me and pushing me down onto the bed, and…" her hiccups return so I interrupt. "Annie it's alright. You don't have to talk about it." She nods understandingly. "You know Annie…Jason may have been a class A douche but I know of one guy who really isn't." She averts her eyes and draws her bottom lip between her teeth. "Annie, Finnick really is a good guy. I hope you can see that now." Slowly she turns her eyes to meet mine. "I do. But I just don't know if I can trust him. What if he gets bored of me? He's been a womanizer before…how can I be sure he'll change?"

"I understand. I'm not saying that you need to go and jump into his arms right now. But how about friendship. Get to know him first, then make the judgment call." She nods very slowly, her eyes unfocused from being deep in thought. "Alright. I'll try." She smiles and I return it. "Good. Now lets try to enjoy the rest of the party." With that we leave the bathroom and make our way back to the living room.

The boys aren't in the throngs of people so we skirt around the edge and head towards the kitchen. I spot Peeta's painted skin, slightly smudged from holding onto Finnick, in the kitchen. As we enter the room Finnick visibly stiffens. Annie walks up to him shyly, looking down at the ground as she approaches him. Finnick's eyes cannot be diverted from her face; his eyes alight with admiration and concern. Annie worries her bottom lip between her teeth before she speaks. "Thank you Finnick. You have no idea how much I appreciate what you did for me." She steps closer to him and tentatively reaches around his torso to give him a shy hug. Finnick's expression is incredulous, but his eyes are pleasantly surprised. She steps back and his face falls slightly. "And I'm sorry that I've been treating you so terribly. Forgive me?" He nods, "Of course. I probably deserved it anyhow. I'm glad you're alright."

"Can I get you anything?" Finnick asks after a moment of silence. A shy smile cross Annie's face, "Something with alcohol would be nice. God knows I need it." She chuckles quietly before they head out in search of the beverage.

"I've never seen Finn act like this before. I really hope she'll come to see it too." Peeta interjects once they are out of earshot. "Well she's certainly more willing to see it now. So we'll see." His smile is breathtaking as he says, "I hope so."

...:::...

"Katniss could you help me grab the muffin trays and put them in the front?" Peeta yells from the back. I walk into the back room and grab some of the trays as Peeta grabs the others. We walk back into the front and place the muffins in the case. "So did you have fun at the party last night?" Peeta asks while leaning against the front counter. "I did, other than the whole Jason incident. It was a really fun night. I'm glad I came." "I'm glad you came too." The bell rings behind us, Peeta's face breaks out into a bright smile. "Long time no see!" He calls over my shoulder so I turn slowly to face whoever just entered the bakery. Peeta moves closer, standing just beside me. I look up and into a face that had long haunted my nightmares and brought an ache to my heart. Cinna.

"What?" Peeta looks down at me incredulously. "I…uhh…" Cinna walks across the room and Peeta quickly changes back to his cheery self. For the first time I notice that a woman walks behind me. Portia. I prepare myself for the blackout but it doesn't come. Instead I find that I must force myself not to stare. Even in my dreams Cinna's death was one of the worst things to happen to me. He was always a trusted ally. I cared for him. His death had hurt and to see him alive was almost a relief even though I know he was only dying in my dreams.

"Katniss," Peeta draws my attention, "This is Cinna and his wife Portia. Cinna used to teach me art." We exchange greetings before Peeta, Cinna and Portia fall into easy conversation. They grab a few cups of coffee and some treats while they talk and about half and hour later Cinna and Portia say their goodbyes with a promise of seeing Peeta again very soon.

Peeta returns to the counter and stares me down. "Katniss how did you know Cinna's name?" He tilts his head slightly, narrowing his eyes only slightly. "Oh I…umm…I've heard his name around town. I can't remember who but I saw a picture of him and they mentioned him."

Peeta's gaze intensifies and narrows. "Why are you lying to me?" I step back, startled that he knew I was lying. "I…I'm not." He pinches the bridge of his nose in frustration, closing his eyes before speaking. "Katniss, yes you are. I know because there is no one in this town besides my father and I who know who Cinna is. How did you know his name?"

Author's Note: Hey everyone! I hope the chapter was to your liking. Read and Review, let me know what you think!