A/n: Hello all!

Quick note: jess obsessed 04 has a fic called The Escapement. She needs some reviews and follows. Check it out!

Earlier update than I expected!

The inspiration for this chapter was from the song, Broken by Lifehouse.

Listen to it when reading this chapter!

I do not own The Hunger Games or Broken by Lifehouse.


The Green Mile ending credits scroll on the TV screen while I lazily lounge on our worn in leather couch. My eyelids start to feel heavy and I can feel myself becoming more sleepy each minute. Maybe Katniss isn't coming...

I hear a knock at the door and immediately spring up off the couch. She's here. I quickly walk over to the door, but before I open it, I check myself over in the mirror. I smooth out my white Henley shirt and jeans. And when I feel like I'm somewhat presentable, I open the door.

She's wearing a grey speckled North Face zip-up hoodie, dark blue jeans and grey TOMS shoes. Her hair is left out of its braid, and her waves are hanging off her right shoulder.

"Hi," I say softly. I step aside, allowing her to walk in.

"Sorry it's so late," she apologizes. "Prim forced me to play two rounds of bowling."

I smile over at her as she takes off her shoes. "Don't worry about it." I go over and sit down on the couch. Katniss follows, but sits on the opposite end with her legs crossed. "Do you want to talk, watch a movie or play GameCube?"

"It doesn't matter. We can play the GameCube?" She says.

I grin and jump up. I plug in two controllers; the purple one for Katniss, and the blue one with rubber gripping on the sides for me. I open up the disc slot and put in Mario Kart. Katniss gives me a funny look as I hand her the purple controller.

"Why do you get the cool controller?"

I sit back down on the couch with a cocky smirk. "Because only pros can handle this controller. You're just a mere rookie."

"I'm so not," she tries to defend. "Give me the blue controller. I'll show you I can use it."

With a sigh, I relent and switch controllers. Since Katniss now has the first player controller, I walk her through the menu and tell her which options to select. When we get to choosing our characters, I choose the Koopa Troopa brothers. Katniss selects Donkey Kong and Bowser.

"Donkey Kong and Bowser?" I ask with a chuckle. "Good luck with that."

She raises her eyebrows at me. "They look so badass. Your little turtle things should be scared."

"Turtle things?" I say taken aback. "They're the Koopa Troopa Brothers! They will kick your ass."

"In your dreams."

Just before the race begins, I show Katniss the controls. She nods and seems to understand everything, so we sit back and wait for the countdown. The countdown begins and I realize that we're racing on Peach Beach.

3...2...1... GO!

My thumb jabs down on the green A button and my cart takes off. I keep a close eye on the duck things on the beach and try to stay out of the water. I look at the bottom corner to see that I'm in 1st place. My eyes quickly flicker to Katniss' screen. She's in 7th. I smirk and do a victory dance in my head, even though we still have seven more laps.

"Peeta!" Katniss says loudly. "My controller isn't working. This isn't fair!"

I look over to see Katniss scowling at the screen. I lean over to look at her controller. "Katniss, are you pressing the correct-" In a split second, she has my controller and tosses it over to the armchair. Then, she positions herself, so she's leaning against me, and I'm trapped.

"Oops," she laughs just as her player crosses the finish line on their eighth lap. "I'm sorry, you were saying something about pros..."

"You tricked me!" I shout with a high, disbelieving voice. "I can't believe you..."

She shrugs. "So, what's my reward?"

"Nothing," I pout. "You're a cheater."

"I vaguely remember the mention of Cheese Buns..." Her lips curl into a grin and I can't help but think of how good it felt to kiss her that day by the ocean...

I feign a annoyed sigh and stand up. I walk over to the hallway that leads to the kitchen and look back at Katniss. I motion for her to come. She gets up and walks over to me, I grab her hand to lead her to the kitchen, but I feel her tense up at the touch.

"I'm not going to hurt you." I reassure her gently while looking into her eyes.

She looks away, but doesn't take her hand away from mine. I walk her down the hall and into the kitchen. Sitting on a tray on top of the stove, are the Cheese buns. I hand Katniss one and then open up a cupboard. I grab a box of cereal-

"You're going to eat Raisin Bran...?"

I smirk and shake my head. I open the box and pull out bags of candy. Skittles, Swedish Fish, Swedish Berries... Katniss has a confused look on her face.

"Finn and I have to hide our candy stash. Annie's a paramedic and she talks about all the medical problems you can run into if you eat candy. And since she's here almost all the time, we had to start hiding it." I explain with a sneaky grin.

Katniss nods with a small grin, and we head back into the living room. We take our respective seats on the couch. Katniss eats her Cheese Bun and I chew on some Swedish Fish. I lean with my back against the arm rest and Katniss does the same. My knees are bent, though she still sits cross-legged.

"Why do you not think much of yourself?" Katniss asks quietly after a few minutes.

You're holding nothing back, Peeta. Tell her.

"My mother," I say, "She abused me. She abused Ryan, too. Though, I always got the worst. To her, I was the son that ruined her life. I was a screw up to her, I was never good enough. And the rest of my family... they all knew. They knew what was happening. They saw it and never said anything. I-"

Memories from that one night in high school flood my mind and interrupt my speech. I close my eyes and begin to tell Katniss about that day.

"I was never popular in high school. And there was this one girl.. She was popular and pretty. I was a loser and had a huge crush on her." I open my eyes to see Katniss watching me with concern. "She had a brother, Gloss – you saw him at the laundromat. He used to bully me constantly throughout high school... And then, two weeks before Graduation, Cashmere came up to me and invited me to her party."

I take a seat of the back of the math room. Pulling out a pen and notebook, I place them on my desk and lean back into my chair. I look to the class room door just in time to see Cashmere walk in. She looks around the room, until her eyes land on me. I quickly look down at my desk and feel heat rising to my cheeks.

"Peeta," I slowly look up to see her standing right by my desk. The sickly sweet smell of her perfume floats through my nose. "You're Peeta. Right?"

I nod. "Uh.. Y-yeah. I'm, yeah. I'm Peeta."

"I'm having a Grad party tonight. I hope you can come." She touches the inside of my arm and her green eyes shine.

"I'm invited...?"

She giggles and nods. "Of course you are! Here's my address," she grabs my pen and writes it down on my hand. Just before she walks away, she leans down and whispers in my ear, "Wear those dark blue jeans. They make your... package look great."

"Did you go?" Katniss asks. I grimace and nod.

"So, I arrived at the party – I didn't know anyone. Well, I knew them, but I hadn't talked to any of them before." I tell her. She bites the inside of her cheek as I continue. "After an hour or so, I had downed a few beers. Cashmere found me and told me that she thought I was hot, and that she wanted me. Me, being drunk and crushing on this girl for a year or two, I jumped on this opportunity."

I extend my legs, and have them hang off the side of the couch. "We were in her room and she started kissing me, pulled off my shirt, jeans and she was just pulling down my boxers. So, I started unbuttoning her shirt-"

"Peeta..." Katniss says gently, but I keep explaining.

"She started laughing and pushed my hands away from her. She told me that she would never have sex with a loser like me. Her plan was just to see how far she could get me to go before she burst into laughter." I recall her vicious laughter, her condescending look. "I'd dressed quickly, and when I opened to door of her room to leave, they were all waiting and laughing. Gloss and his buddies."

Her eyes take on a pained expression before they turn slightly angered. "With your mom and Cashmere, you've never felt good enough." She states.

I nod and croak out, "Never." It's quiet for a few seconds, so I stand up. "Excuse me for a sec." I quickly disappear down the hallway and into my bedroom. I take a seat on the edge of my bed and rub my face.

"Peeta," I stand up and look at the door. Katniss takes a cautious step in. "Can I, um, give you a hug?"

Before I have time to answer, her arms wrap around my torso. I lightly reciprocate, then she quickly pulls away. We watch each other for a moment, then wordlessly, head back into the living room. Taking our same seats as before, a silence falls upon us.

I don't think Katniss is willing to open up just yet about her and Marvel. So, I decide to just ask a straight up question.

"Did you love him?" I ask. She looks up, and something crosses her face, but I'm not sure what. "Marvel?"

It's quiet again, and I watch Katniss familiarly bite down on her bottom lip. She looks off at a random spot on the wall behind me.

"I did."

I try to ignore the jab in my heart. It hurts knowing that she had easily fallen in love with Marvel; the guy who obviously tore her apart. Now instead of letting herself fall in love with me, she's built a wall. She's built a wall so high and so strong, that I'm just barely breaking through it. So she could very well be falling in love with me, no problem, if it weren't for Marvel who had so easily destroyed this beautiful girl before me. She's broken. And I know I can heal her if she gave me that chance.

"It was hard not to fall in love with him. He said all the right things," she says, "But something started to change. Love is dangerous and I don't know if I'll allow my heart to go through it again."

The pain from her words is constricting my heart like a vice. I don't know if I'll allow my heart to go through it again. I feel myself wanting to yell at the top of my lungs how she's wrong. How I could be good to her... How I've fallen for her.

I've fallen for Katniss Everdeen.

There is no uncertainty behind this. I'm 100% sure of it.

"Katniss," I say lightly. "I'm broken. I've been burned, too."

Katniss shifts uncomfortably. "Not in the same way. You have no idea what I've gone through."

I sit up and look at her with pleading eyes. "Then tell me." She avoids my eyes, and it hurts. It hurts to not be trusted. "We've both been hurt in different ways. But the pain is the same. Katniss, I'm going to show you that letting someone in is okay. I'll do whatever it takes. I'd serenade you.. Hell, I'd go dance out in the rain with you right now."

"I don't dance." She says an even voice. "And that's cliche."

"Neither do I. And cliche isn't bad." I tell her. "You have to stop running at some point. You're going to tire yourself out." I say with a hidden meaning behind those words.

"Maybe that's the point." She says quietly and almost sounds broken. "Peeta... This isn't going to go anywhere-"

I cut her off. "How do you know?" And I caught her off guard with that. She can't give me a good reason. "There was a reason that I happened to be the officer to respond to the call and show up at Marvel's house that night. Fate."

Katniss stands up from the couch and shouts, "Peeta, fate had nothing to do with any of this! Stop trying to see what you want-"

"Stop trying to avoid what you feel."

Her grey eyes are like a stormy mess. They're clouded and dark. Not the bright, steely, captivating grey I remember. She quickly strides over to her shoes and slips them on. I finally realize that she's leaving. The door swings open, and I hurriedly get up and slip on my sneakers, and go after her. She quickly descending down the few flights off stairs, so I follow just a flight behind her. At the bottom, I push through the building's door and it's lightly spitting rain out tonight.

"Katniss!" I say and grab her arm before she can get too far. "Please stop running from me."

She doesn't turn around to face me. "You don't know what you're getting yourself involved in, Peeta."

"You're right, I don't know." I agree. "But we both can't deny there's something between us. Something special."

Katniss finally turns around, nothing could've prepared me for the scared look in her eyes. She looks so vulnerable. Her eyes look almost like they have tears pooling in them, but I can't tell with the rain which has now started to come down a little harder.

"Okay, I felt something! After the basketball game, when we pretended to look up at stars. I felt it, and I'm scared! Is that what you've been wanting to hear?" She shouts at me.

"Then why are you making this so hard?" I ask. "Let yourself go."

The rain splatters the sidewalk, and soon starts to soak through our clothes. Katniss and I look at each other through the pouring rain, and I can barely decipher what she's feeling. She's looking at me with something in her eyes... I just don't know what it is.

"You're gonna make me serenade you," I warn, "I'm not a good singer."

She still doesn't say anything. Her eyes blink away the rain and she just looks at me. She looks at me and it's the longest she's ever looked at me for. I think of a song that we'll both relate to.. Just like when we we're both at the piano in that room above the pub. I find a song and start at the second verse.

"I'm falling apart, I'm barely breathing
With a broken heart that's still beating
In the pain, there is healing
In your name I find meaning
So I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on, I'm holdin' on..."

Katniss shows no emotion throughout my singing, but just as I finish it off, she cracks a smile.

"You're not that bad." She says so quietly that I barely heard her.

"I've had my heart broken before, Katniss Everdeen.." I say with a hint of pain, "But if it were to be broken by you, I'm not so sure I could repair it."

Any trace of a smile are gone from her face. "That's not fair to say."

"I'm just telling you the truth." I say, "I held nothing back from you. I've opened up to you about things that no one knows about except Finnick. Katniss, if you're scared to fall-"

She huffs, "I'm not scared of anything."

I ignore her and argue with one last statement. "I'll always catch you."


a/n: TO BE CONTINUED.

I know, I know. We don't get to see what Katniss has to say, but we will. Katniss didn't open up as much as Peeta did, but hey, it's a start! Right? Things are starting to move a little faster now, because Peeta and Katniss are slowly feeling more at ease with one another. But, of course, Katniss isn't just going to fall in love with Peeta with the snap of a finger.

I hope you all are truly liking the story and the pace! Let me know?

Review, PM!