Pretty Peeta Epilogue

Written for s2sl February 2014 by kismet4891

Katniss Everdeen thought she had everything – success, power, and wealth beyond comprehension. Peeta Mellark was dirt poor and doing the unthinkable to stay alive. Everything has changed since their chance meeting in Los Angeles, but what does the future hold for these star-crossed lovers? An epilogue to the story, Pretty Peeta, originally published in December 2012.

The room and staff are minimalist, white walls and furniture, waiters passing soundlessly in black clothing with trays of tall glasses and miniature hors d'oeuvres. It's like watching a perfectly synchronized dance; I'm amazed by how the waiters are able to move in and out of the people at the party without bumping into anyone or raising attention to themselves. I imagine the staffing agency used is one of the best and most expensive to be able to demand such poised perfection.

Since leaving the corporate world, I actively avoid events like this. They have always made me uncomfortable; the suffocating and fake nature of it all, small talk and ass kissing, a necessary means for being successful. I'm here tonight though, and I won't be leaving anytime soon.

From a loft above I take it all in, the mingling, drinking, and schmoozing. I don't have to be here but the reason I am stands in the middle of it all, surrounded by fine works of art and people interested in talking about the pieces hung in the gallery, completely in his element. Watching him steals the breath from my lungs; he's vibrant and beautiful and everyone here orbits in wait for a moment of his time.

I'd be kidding myself if I said the reason that I climbed the stairs to watch from up high was to get away from it all. Mostly, I just want to see how long it takes for him to realize that I've gone. Our time in Los Angeles sparked something that saved us both, but I fear that one day he'll realize he doesn't need me anymore and walk away.

It's ridiculous, I know - but most irrational feelings are ridiculous.

The truth of the matter is that I'm so proud of him I could burst. I knew from the moment I saw his sketchbook at the hotel that his was a true and undeniable talent. All Peeta needed to develop the amazing skill that brought us here tonight were the right materials and the time to dedicate to his craft. It may be his first official gallery showing, but over the past year he has been selling and showing pieces on the side, successfully earning a profit he couldn't have even imagined two years ago. His art has attracted enough attention that he even has an agent now. Peeta has come so far from the starving sex worker I happened across that fateful night.

With his hands, Peeta tells a story to the man who currently holds his attention. There is a lot of motioning and smiling and then I realize his eyes are trained on me. I nod at him and he winks back before turning his attention back to the small talk in front of him. I'm impressed. It didn't even take him ten minutes to find me.

The party drags on and I eventually end up back at Peeta's side, laughing and smiling when appropriate. I may have used him for arm candy in the beginning, but now our roles are reversed and I don't mind it one bit, especially when I catch the jealous glares of other women in the room.

Eventually, the party goers dwindle and the gallery owner and Peeta's agent approach us with exciting news. It seems the show was very well received and Peeta has already sold many of the pieces in this particular collection. They exchange a few words with a promise to meet after the reviews are published and make a definitive decision on how to proceed.

The car service is already waiting for us when we make it outside. Peeta opens the car door and allows me to scoot in first before joining me. He's still riding the high from the party and I don't blame him. The showing was pretty spectacular and he sold quite a few pieces, which in itself is exciting, but I think he's most proud of all the positive attention he's receiving. I have always believed he deserves this.

"You look exhausted," he says as he reaches over and pulls me into his lap. "Exhausted, but so beautiful. Everyone couldn't keep their eyes off of you tonight."

I tug on his tie, loosening it before slipping it over his head. "It was you they couldn't keep their eyes off of, Peeta. Congratulations, I'm so proud of you." I nuzzle my nose into the exposed skin of his neck before placing a quick kiss to his pulse point.

He hums his approval before whispering into my hair, "I couldn't have done it without you." His nimble fingers make quick work of the up-do it took me forty minutes to perfect; he makes up for it by massaging my scalp and it's my turn to hum.

"Well, aren't we a sentimental pair," I tease, pressing my forehead against his and looking him directly in the eyes. "Now that you're a big famous artist, what's next on the agenda?" Mostly it's good-natured teasing, but a part of me wants to know. I feel like I've peaked, done what I set out to do in life – made a lot of money – and now I'm the one who's adrift without a purpose.

It scares me to realize that Peeta is just beginning to realize his dreams. Will there be room left for me?

He seems to catch the underlying seriousness to my tone because he kisses me soundly on the lips, close mouthed and hard. Almost a claiming kiss, a reminder that we are in this together, before he pulls away and sweetly kisses the tip of my nose. "Big famous artist?" he scoffs. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet." It seems I'm not the only one feeling a little insecure tonight.

With a playful roll of my eyes, I lean back in and softly claim his lips with mine, and he responds in kind. It's the type of kiss that starts slowly and sweetly before growing and changing in intensity. Soon we are a tangle of limbs, grinding and moving in tandem, seemingly trying to pull ourselves into one being instead of two. His hands roughly squeeze my ass and press it into his erection. I help him along, bearing down into the friction created, panting as I try and keep up.

There is a sudden jolt of the car and it snaps us out of our actions. I hadn't even realized the car had started to move. Peeta is breathless but somehow manages a weak bout of laughter, his mouth moving though sound is barely escaping. "There you go again, Katniss, copping feels in the back of a car, giving me a chance to be the teenager I never got to be."

His words break the intensity of the moment and my heart. After our time together in Los Angeles, Peeta and I spent a lot of time getting to know one another. It was time consuming and painful for the both of us. We'd go on jaunts where we would open up and share our past pain, only to not speak of anything serious again for a month. Instead of talking, we would lose ourselves in each other's bodies, indulgent food, and fine wine until we were ready to relive the pain of the past again. It was necessary in order for us to truly know one another and understand our underlying motivations and vulnerabilities. What I learned during this time was that Peeta had it much rougher than I did. Despite how rough it was for Prim and I, we still had each other and the Hawthorne's. Peeta, however, was all alone - his mother abusive, his dad absent, and his brothers just as hateful as his mom was. Presented with the choice to leave home or try and survive at the whims of his family, Peeta chose to go it alone at the age when most teenagers are taking college prep exams and fumbling through their first sexual experiences.

"Back to the subject at hand, what does your agent think is the next step?" I don't want tonight to become about past pains; I want to celebrate the amazing things that Peeta has done and will do. The car lurches again and I scoot off his lap and buckle myself in, then move to help him find his buckle.

Peeta steadies his hand over the top of mine as I reach over him. "Always taking care of me, aren't you?" He grins as we locate the clasp and secure him in the car. "If the reviews about tonight are positive, the plan is to set up a showing on the West Coast with the series I did from my time on the streets. If they aren't positive…well, we hadn't planned on that."

I have a hard time showing him how I feel about this, because I hate that series. It was his first after we settled into our home and he had his own space. It took him a month to show me the first piece and it's quite different from the show he had tonight. Don't get me wrong, the work is impeccable, but it's haunting and hurts to look at. When I look at those paintings, I can sense the pain of that time, the struggle Peeta endured to survive, and it is like viewing his nightmares on canvas. I know why his agent wants him to show them, because they are some of his most vivid and realistic work. The pain seems to jump off the canvas right at you, it's almost tangible and they are absolutely unbelievable.

I just wish we could keep that pain locked away in his studio forever. "What about the watercolor sunsets and cathedrals from our tour of Italy?"

Peeta laces his fingers through mine. "We are trying to establish a name for me, not sell prints for a calendar," he teases and I know he's right. Those works really are more hotel art grade. He squeezes my fingers tightly, "Besides, I think it'll be good for me, and I'll be able to visit Finnick again."

We've seen Finnick a few times since settling in on the East Coast. He's the one reminder from Peeta's past that I don't mind because I believe that without his guidance, Peeta would have ended up dead. "I'd like that. How's Annie holding up? Isn't the baby due any time now?"

"Six weeks or so… shit, they asked me to do some hangings for the nursery wall and I need to get to them!" His voice is filled with joy when he speaks about Finnick. It didn't take much to get him off the street and into a legitimate business; the man's natural ability to overcome and charisma helped, but more than anything, meeting Annie has kept him afloat.

We talk about Finnick and Annie's fight over what to name their son, Peeta's worry over what the critics will have to say about his show, and how Prim is adjusting on her study abroad trip. The car ride passes quickly and soon we are home. We bought an acreage in a wooded area and built a nice home for ourselves; it's hidden from the bustle of the city but close enough that shopping and other things aren't too hard to manage.

Richard, our mixed breed mutt that Peeta brought home with him one day after a trip to the city, greets us at the door carrying his food dish. Peeta kneels down to pet the dog and I excuse myself to go change.

"Leave the stockings on, will ya?" he calls up after me. "Everything else can go." His intent isn't lost on me and a shiver of anticipation runs down my spine. Suddenly I don't feel as tired as I did ten minutes ago.

I'm anxious to finish what we started in the car and by the time I make the short trip up the stairs, I'm already completely wet with expectation. I do as he asked, stripping my dress and undergarments off before crawling onto the bed. I fluff my hair a bit and contemplate whether or not I should get under the covers. Peeta's such a visual person, though; there isn't any making love with the lights off or hiding under covers if he can help it. I'm sure he'd love to be greeted by the sight of me with my legs completely spread for him. That's not really my style, though, so instead I opt to lie back on the pillows on top of the duvet and cross my ankles - a nice compromise that takes in account both our desires.

It doesn't take long for Peeta to join me. His suspenders are hanging at his sides and his shirt is completely unbuttoned. I feign boredom, staring down at my fingernails and trying my best to not let on how aroused I am, "Took you long enough."

"Oh, did it?" he questions, a naughty smirk dancing on his lips. "However will I repay you?"

His tone causes my thighs to involuntarily clench together; I love it when he's sarcastic and playful. As far as repayment I've got a few things in mind, mainly wrapping my legs around his head, but I want to see what he has planned. "I don't know, I'm pretty tired, Peeta. Maybe tomorrow I'll take you up on this repayment."

Peeta lets his shirt slip to the ground as he approaches the bed. The closer he gets, I can see how hard he is from the way his pants have tightened. Biting my lip, I decide to tease him some more, uncrossing my ankles and bringing my knees up slightly from the bed. "Maybe I got bored and took matters into my own hands." I emphasize the word hands as I drag my finger down my stomach and dip it in between my legs.

He lets out a heavy breath, "Did you now?" Peeta's words are shaky at best. He's standing at the edge of the bed now, his own hand lightly rubbing at the front of his pants.

I speed up the movement of my hand between my legs, tracing up and down, occasionally letting my finger slip between my lips to dip into the wetness there. With his eyes trained on the motion between my legs, Peeta demands, "Spread your legs." He's so predictable - I knew this was what he would want when he asked for stockings and nothing else.

He undoes the button of his pants and shimmies out of them, leaving them on the floor before crawling towards me. Words escape me as I watch him slowly move towards me, blond hair tousled around his face and his cheeks bright pink with desire. I could never say no to this man and I do as he asks. Pulling my knees up, I let them fall open to my sides. Now that I'm completely spread, I work my middle finger in slow rotations around my clit. With my free hand I reach up and pull at my nipple, pinching softly before letting go and rubbing back and forth.

Peeta makes another demand, "Keep that up," he calls, his voice gruff with want as he drops to his stomach before me. Using both hands, he pulls me by my hips until I'm open to him right in front of his face. My chest heaves in anticipation and my hand stalls, waiting for him to place his mouth on me. He reminds me of what he wants, "Would you please keep that up?" His voice is less demanding and more of a plea now as I resume my ministrations.

Even though I am so close to coming, I do as he asks and continue touching myself. At this point, I'm not sure who's getting more pleasure from this, me or him. My head lolls back and I fight to keep my eyes open. Peeta doesn't keep me waiting too long and I'm rewarded with the first long stroke of his tongue, a slow movement, almost as if he's tasting me. Even though it's becoming increasingly difficult not to wrap my legs around his head, I continue rubbing myself. My motions are erratic now, almost spastic as I try to hold it together while he runs his tongue against me, harder and with more intent. He matches my rhythm and that's all it takes; I shatter and wrap my legs around his head, my body seeking an anchor.

Peeta takes it as a challenge and roughly grasps my thighs with his hands as he continues his voracious lapping and sucking. I keen wantonly as he slips two fingers inside of me, working me relentlessly until I fall apart again.

As I come down from my high, he slips from between my legs and lays his head on my stomach. I smile down at him, stifling a giggle when I realize that the lace from the top of my stockings has left deep red marks where they were pressed into his face. Softly, I trace the marks. "I'll never get tired of that."

He stills my hand, taking it into his own before pressing a kiss to the palm. "That's my plan, you know? Anytime you think of trading me in, I just pin you down and make you come until you forget you were looking for an upgrade."

"There is no upgrade to perfection, Peeta." It sounds foolish of me to say, but it's true and I hope he knows I'm being serious and not joking. "I love you."

Instead of returning the sentiment, he suddenly sits up and makes his way off the bed. It looks uncomfortable and a bit awkward because his underwear still shows the strain of his erection as he hustles to the door. I sit up, believing that I've said something wrong. We've been exchanging the phrase since our first three months together, so I have no clue why he's running from it now. I stand and search for my robe; feeling rebuked has made me suddenly aware of the fact I'm naked except for my arousal stained stockings.

I hear the door opening behind me signaling Peeta's return as I tighten the belt of my robe with shaking hands. "Why are you out of bed?" I hear him ask and I turn to face him. He's grinning from ear to ear, holding something tightly in his hands.

The sight of him standing there, showing more teeth than the Cheshire cat pisses me off. "Why'd you run away from me?" One look at his expression and it's obvious he wasn't running away from anything. Instead he is excited about something, and my damn insecurities have gotten the best of me again.

He frowns at the irritation in my voice but doesn't rise to the challenge of the argument I tried to incite. Instead, he drops down and kneels in front of me. "Hear me out, I know you well enough to know you're hot because you still feel vulnerable admitting how you feel about me." It's almost frustrating how well he knows me. I should apologize for being shitty to him but he continues before I get the chance, "Honestly, Katniss, I wasn't running away from your 'I love you'. You know, or at least you should know, that I love you more than anything." He's rambling; Peeta Mellark is actually rambling. He pauses and scrubs his hand down the front of his face. I immediately recognize his nervous tic, the one I first identified during our days in the hotel in Los Angeles.

Oh God, what's going on?

"I was getting this –" His usually steady hands are suddenly a shaky mess as he works to open the box he was hiding in his hands. I feel the anger drain from me, replaced by shock. Is he doing what I think he's doing?

"Peeta," I try to interrupt, unsure whether I can handle where this is going.

"No." He cuts me off before I can get more than his name out, "Katniss, let me get this out before you try and take over the situation." His voice breaks and his face flushes a wild red color. "I love that about you, you know? Your desire to control everything, it's infuriating and sexy at the same time, and one of the many things about you that I can't imagine living without."

As he speaks, he gains confidence and the tremor leaves his voice. "Now, I had a big speech and romantic breakfast in bed thing planned, but I also think there is some romance in spontaneity. You are it for me and I can't imagine my life without you. I've wanted to do this for some time now and I know we haven't really talked about it, but that's on purpose."

He pauses and smiles up at me. "Because if we talked about it, you'd overanalyze and break it down and fret about it until you talked yourself out of it. I love you more than you can imagine. I love how stubborn and driven you are. I love how you have this incredible soft side that only Prim and I get to see. I love how you hide in big crowds and wait for me to find you." There is a huge wedge in my throat. Peeta really does know me, even the things I think I hide from him. He continues a bit, all the while fiddling with the teal box in his hands, "It would make me incredibly happy if you would agree to be my wife."

Peeta finally works the box open to reveal a single solitaire diamond. It's beautiful and simple and pretty much everything that I would want in a ring. "Now, I waited until I had the money to buy this on my own. I wanted our life together to start on even ground, and while I may never have as much money as you came into our relationship with, I have my own now. Please… marry me, Katniss?"

Emotion overcomes me. I'm a blubbering mess as I drop to the floor and wrap my arms around his neck, knocking him to the ground. I can't get words out, so I rapidly nod my head up and down to give him my answer. "I take it that's a yes?" he manages to get out before I fuse my lips with his.

I need him.

I need him inside me immediately.

It's all I can focus on, this intense urgency to be connected to Peeta – to be one with him.

Peeta must sense it too because suddenly we are both scrambling to get his underwear pushed down his legs. We bump heads as we both reach for the boxer briefs and pull back. He laughs a little while rubbing the spot on his forehead and then he lays back. I take the initiative and scoot down the length of his body, pulling the thin fabric with me before finally ripping them off his ankles.

Any other time I would have worked my way up his body slowly, taking time to tease the inside of his legs with my tongue before working his cock into my mouth. Going down on Peeta is one of the things that I love doing for him the most, but there isn't time for that now.

I just need to have him inside me.

Carefully, I straddle his hips and take him with my hand, guiding his swollen length to my entrance. I'm beyond wet and he's so incredibly hard and although there is no need for foreplay, I press him in between my folds, rubbing my wetness all over him and stimulating us both. Peeta groans loudly at the contact of my wet skin to his silky length, and it's obvious that he's through with foreplay.

Placing one hand on his thigh, I lean back and slide down on top of him, taking care to go slow enough that he can watch as I work every last inch of him deep inside me. His eyes are riveted to the spot and we both release a collective sigh when we are completely connected. I look at where we are connected, where my body rests flush against his and I can feel his pulse inside me. Our relationship has come so far from where we started. This intimacy we now share is both overwhelming and simultaneously perfect. The emotional closeness is almost enough to make me come.

Peeta pulls my attention back to him when he rests a hand on my hip, holding me in place. His other hand rests lightly behind my neck and pulls my face closer to his. I lean down and he whispers, "I love you," before capturing my lips in a searing kiss. He can be such a sap, but he's turned me into one too, so I don't mind one bit.

As our tongues meld, I rest my hands on either side of his head and slowly rock my hips, eager to build the friction necessary for both of us to find completion. He moves the hand from my hip to the base of my spine, flattening it and encouraging me to stop. I pull back in surprise, but I realize almost immediately what he has in mind when he starts rapidly pumping his hips so that he's fucking me even though I'm on top. I feel his fingers on the back of my neck begin a gentle massage, even though the motions he's working with his cock are anything but. Peeta's mouth gapes open and our foreheads press together; I'm left completely immobile from the intense amount of pleasure he's bringing both of us.

Everything is building so quickly and I know that the relentless way in which he's fucking me will make me come in a matter of minutes. From the angle and the speed he's working, I can feel the ridge of his cock in all the right places. "I'm going to come," I manage to squeak out in warning which seems to make him pick up the pace instead of slowing him down. Peeta seems intent on making that happen, and moves without ceasing until it does. As I come, my legs tremble and give way, and I lose my ability to keep my forehead resting against his. I pretty much fold down over him, unable to do anything except ride the intense sensations rocketing throughout me.

I'm jelly; a mess of useless limbs as pleasure courses through me.

Peeta pauses and allows me to collect myself; I worry that I've been the one having all the fun tonight and he hasn't even come once. "You need to stop being so good at that and have your own orgasm from time to time," I admonish him when I catch my breath.

"It feels good making you feel good. Besides, I'm really close," he promises but makes no move to continue. Knowing Peeta, he's waiting to make sure I'm still good to go, so I push myself up off his chest. I can feel that he's still rock hard inside me, so I begin rocking my hips back and forth. Using my hands, I grab Peeta's and put them on my hips again as I rest most my weight on my knees, straddling his hips. I want to slide up and down on his cock like I know he likes, but I don't trust myself to do it without his help because my body still feels absolutely boneless.

I can see his eyes widen when he realizes what I'm trying to do. His hands tighten on my hips, helping me raise myself up and down on him. It doesn't take long and we've found a pretty steady rhythm of me rising up to where he almost slips out of me and then quickly moving back down again. I can tell he's getting close when he starts building the pace faster and faster, bringing his own hips off the ground again. I don't think it's physically possible for me to have another orgasm, so I try and ignore what I can feel trying to build inside me and focus only on making Peeta feel good.

I lean over and kiss him and he snaps his hips hard, pushing as deep into me as he possibly can before he finally releases. I collapse on his chest and squeeze my thighs hard, framing his hips and holding him inside me as I snuggle my cheek against his chest and feel his wildly beating heart in my ear. Peeta slowly strokes my back and we lie there together until our breathing evens out.

My heart is so full, which in itself is a ridiculous thing to think or say, but I really can't think of better words. I could have never imagined a life like this, and better than imagine it, I get to live it every day from now until forever. Peeta doesn't just love me - he wants to make sure that I'm the last person he sees at night and the first person he sees in the morning.

A single tear slips out and hits his chest, but I think we've had enough sappiness for one night, so I lighten it up a bit. "Where'd that ring go?" I ask. "I've got to check it out before I give you my final answer."

"Okay, but only on one condition…" I suddenly feel the strangest sense of déjà vu, but decide to go with it anyway.

"I'll do anything! What is it?"

"After you give me your final answer and let me put it on your finger," he begins, "We'll take a nice hot bath… together."

His familiar words make me laugh out loud. "You drive a hard bargain, Peeta… but I'll allow it."

A special thank you to Chelzie for taking the time to beta and check in on me when things hit a rough patch! It's because of you that this was submitted without panic! Also, many thanks to Ro Nordmann who created the spectacular banner to accompany the original story, it's absolutely perfect! Finally, I'd be remiss if I did not extend a thank you to Falafel_Waffel who gave me the prompt and is the only reason the story exists!