A/n: Hello, lovely readers!

Thank you to all of you who have taken your time to review, favourite and follow this story. It means so much, honestly. I cannot thank you guys enough. I read every single review, and though I haven't replied to many, I greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

There are two songs in this chapter. Innocent by Taylor Swift, and Come Home by OneRepublic. I suggest that you listen to them when they come up.

Also, songs and flashbacks are in italics.

I do not own The Hunger Games or the two songs mentioned above.

The doorbell chimes and the smell of fresh bread and cookies fill my nose as I walk in. All the small tables are being occupied by customers. When I look toward the front counter, I see my father come in from the back. He gives me a surprised smile, and I walk over.

"Peeta, I haven't seen you in quite awhile. I thought you'd come by to visit your Old Pop more often." He says lightly with a smile, but it somehow sets me off.

I grit my teeth and push past the counter doors into the back workroom. Of course, my father follows me and before he even has time to say another word, I let everything out.

"I thought you and I shared that connection, Dad. I thought you were one in our family that understood me, besides Ryan." I cross my arms over my chest, and something new takes over. I've never spoken to my father like this. "You watched me get beaten.. I used to think that maybe you thought it would stop after the first time, second time, third time.. You used to stand by and watch!"

My father rubs his face and pain is clearly visible in his eyes. "Peeta, I am so-"

"Yeah, you're sorry. For what, though? Me being beaten? Or for standing around while it happened?"

"She's my wife, Peeta." He tries to reason, but I shake my head.

"Good to know that hasn't changed." I say coldly. We stare at each other as the minutes pass. Until I stuff my hands in my pockets. "You wonder why I don't stop by.. You wonder why I don't come to holiday, or family dinners. You think you got the bad end of the stick, when I got the worse."

My voice isn't angry anymore. It's hollow.

I turn around to head back out, but freeze in my spot. There she stands, in the doorway with Taftan behind her. Her blonde hair falls to her shoulders and flares out. Pointed nose, cold blue eyes.. Thin pursed lips. They all describe her. Then there's the dirty blonde hair, and cobalt blue eyes that match her's except for his aren't as cold and cruel.

We all stand in place. No one moves, no one speaks. I'd like to leave, but she's blocking the way through the door. Taftan and I catch each other's eyes, and it's an odd feeling. It's odd to see your own brother right before you, and to see how much has changed in three years. The last time we saw each other was when I was twenty. How is that acceptable? How is it acceptable to go for three years without seeing your own brother? And it hurts me greatly to know that it isn't acceptable.

And then my eyes leave his. They find the cold blue ones looking through me. Now this odd feeling is different. It's odd to see how little someone can change in almost five years. Maybe besides a few more grey hairs..

"Peeta." Taftan nods his head at me.

Is this how brothers are supposed to treat each other? Treat each other like strangers? Pick sides, and live their lives not saying more than ten words to each other?

I drop the last two boxes down in the new apartment. Finnick is moving his stuff in later on. I look around my new home. My new home, away from all of my nightmares. My phone buzzes in my pocket, and I take it out to read the text.

Finnick: Hope all your stuff is moved in because tonight we party! Happy 18th Birthday, bud.

I chuckle to myself, but before I can even type out a reply, someone knocks on the open apartment door. When I turn around, my eyes widen in surprise.


"What the fuck, Peeta?" he throws his arms up in the air. "What are you doing?"

"I moved out." I state simply.

Taftan sighs and shakes his head. "You just turned eighteen. What the fuck are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking since none of you stepped up while I was being bruised, that I had to take matters into my own hands." I say, "So, I moved out.. Taftan, you watched as I cried in pain. You let her-"

"She's your mom, Peeta! You can't just leave her. You can't be this delusional. You can't think that you'll be able to make it on your own, can you?"

And that was the day an definite wedge was driven between Taftan and I.

"Well, how are you?" Taftan asks stiffly.

"I'm fine, thanks." I start to make my way closer to where they are, hoping that they will catch on and move. But when I'm standing just inches from her, I know that she will not be moving. "I gotta go. Excuse me,"

"I hear you're a Police Officer." I slowly look at her, and she continues, "How shameful." Her face contorts in a grimace of disgust, and she fixes her hair before walking away from me. Taftan follows her, and nothing is stopping me from leaving. So, I breathe in and leave without sparing another look back.

And that has got to be the hardest part.

"I saw Mom and Taftan today." I finally say after minutes of Ryan and Johanna staring me down. My eyes stay trained on the counter. "At the bakery."

"Peet," Ryan puts a hand on my shoulder. "What happe- How did it all go down?" He waits for my response to come, but one never does. "Peet-"

I look up at him. "I don't want to talk about it. Okay?"

Ryan nods and it's quiet between the three of us. The pub isn't busy today. In fact, there's only one other person in here besides us. I close my eyes and rest my chin on the palm of my hand. Ryan and Johanna talk quietly, but I have no intent on listening.

I don't know how long I was sitting like that until someone smacks my wrist, and my head falls on the counter. My eyes open to a smirking Johanna, but in second she's serious.

"Thanks for that."

"Thank me later." She points to the employee door, and says, "Go through there, and then walk up the stairs."

I give her a skeptical look. "Uh, why?"

"I need something, and Ryan is too much of a lazy ass to go get it." Johanna says and Ryan whines, earning a smack from her.

Slowly, I get up from the stool. "What is it?"

Johanna gives me a weird, twisted, evil smile which slightly unnerves me. "You'll see it."

I push through the employee door, and see a big room. It has a counter-lined wall, a sink, and shelves of alcohol. Also, a kitchen area with a small walk-in freezer. As I survey the room, in the far right corner there is a stairway. I walk over to the steep stairs, and climb up them slowly. I'm in no mood for this today. But, as I near the door at the top of the stairs, I hear the faint sound of a piano?

Quietly, I push open the door. The room is like a small living room. It has a couch, TV, all that stuff. Against the far wall is what makes my heart beat faster. Raven hair tied in a braid. Her hands gracefully fly across the keyboard... piano... thing.. whatever you wanna call it. But the sound.. it's amazing. I watch her body movement sway with the direction of her hands. That's not what really captivates me.. it's her voice.

I guess you really did it this time
Left yourself in your warpath
Lost your balance on a tightrope
Lost your mind tryin' to get it back

Wasn't it easier in your lunchbox days?
Always a bigger bed to crawl into
Wasn't it beautiful when you believed in everything
And everybody believed in you?

It's alright, just wait and see
Your string of lights are still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not where you've been.
You're still an innocent,
You're still an innocent.

Did some things you can't speak of
But at night you live it all again
You wouldn't be shattered on the floor now
If only you would seen what you know now then

Wasn't it easier in your firefly-catchin' days?
When everything out of reach, someone bigger brought down to you
Wasn't it beautiful runnin' wild 'til you fell asleep
Before the monsters caught up to you?

It's alright, just wait and see
Your string of lights is still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not where you've been
You're still an innocent
It's okay, life is a tough crowd
32, and still growin' up now
Who you are is not what you did.
You're still an innocent.

Time turns flames to embers
You'll have new Septembers
Every one of us has messed up too
Lives change like the weather
I hope you remember
Today is never too late to be brand new

It's alright, just wait and see
Your string of lights is still bright to me
Oh, who you are is not where you've been
You're still an innocent.
It's okay, life is a tough crowd
32, and still growin' up now
Who you are is not what you did
You're still an innocent.
You're still an innocent.

Lost your balance on a tightrope.
It's never too late to get it back.

"Wow." Stumbles out of my mouth before I can stop it. Katniss whips around in her seat, and her mouth opens in shock. "Sor- Sorry! I didn't mean to listen in.. I just.. I came up here.. Uh.."

She still stares me and I stare at her. It feels like we've known each other before. Our eyes are locked and I feel some unseen connection with her. And after hearing her sing... I think I'm goner.

"Your voice... It's amazing." I say, still in awe. "You can play the piano?"

She stands up and crosses her arms over her chest. "Yeah," She wears a simple red and navy plaid button up, and dark jeans.

"I wish I could play." I say, "How'd you learn?"

She bites down on the inside of her cheek, and avoids my eyes. "My father. And my friend, Madge."

"Oh, cool." I lean against the door frame. Then, I ask, "Can you play another song?" I watch as her eyes slowly meet mine, but makes no move to answer me. "Well, I've had a shitty day, and you just made my it a lot better."

A dubious laugh escapes her. "Try a shitty life."

"That, too." I give her a shrug, and her eyes watch me with uncertainty. "I know all about shitty." It's quiet for a minute, then I walk over to the keyboard/piano. "If you won't play, then I will. May I?" I ask and gesture to it.

Katniss doesn't nod, but she doesn't say no either. So, I sit down and flex my fingers before holding my two index fingers above the keys. I press one finger down, then the other and say, "Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot cross buns!"

I look up at Katniss, and see the corners of her mouth twitch up in a half smile, though she tries to hide it. "You, uh, played that wrong."

My grin still stays, but my cheeks heat up. How could I mess up Hot-cross Buns? Katniss takes a seat at the end of the bench, and holds up three fingers over the keys instead of my two fingers. She repeats the song, but using her three fingers. Wordlessly, she looks at me, and I try it again..

"There. You've got it now." Katniss says while looking down at the keys. "Try to do what I do." She says out of nowhere, and begins to press down on a few keys.

I follow along for the first few notes, but then Katniss starts to press the black keys, and I lose my way. She stops and looks over at me, and then my hands. Carefully, she reaches over and grabs them. She moves my fingers to other keys and positions my hands. But, I don't really pay attention to that. I focus on the way her hands feel on mine. Her hands are soft, but the fingertips are rough. I, again, notice her scarred knuckles. The discovery of the feel of her hand on mine vanishes when she removes her hands. I turn my head to look at her, and she looks down, but slightly turns her head to look at me. I offer a smile, and she turns her head back down to the keys.

Katniss plays slowly, and I follow her movements. The tune sounds familiar, and I identify it as a song I've heard before... but what is it called? I cautiously stop playing, and let her continue. She doesn't notice, and plays with a problem. I watch her, momentarily stunned by the beauty she possesses. From her hair to the way she makes something so ordinary sound so angelic. She holds a high level of beauty in many ways. As I sit here and watch, I remember the song. Come Home – OneRepublic.

Though I can't sing, I say the words softly.

Hello world
Hope you're listening
Forgive me if I'm young
For speaking out of turn
There's someone I've been missing
I think that they could be
The better half of me
They're in the wrong place trying to make it right
But I'm tired of justifying
So I say to you..

Katniss stops playing and drops her hands to her sides. She looks at me and before she can think about moving or speaking, I say, "Don't stop, keep playing. Please," Katniss eyes me warily. "It'll be our secret. I just want to hear you play some more."

Her hands find their way back to the keys, and she plays again. I continue to softly say the words, but I hear her quietly join in.

Come home
Come home
Cause I've been waiting for you
For so long
For so long
Right now there's a war between the vanities
But all I see is you and me
The fight for you is all I've ever known
So come home

I get lost in the beauty
Of everything I see
The world ain't half as bad
As they paint it to be
If all the sons,
All the daughters
Stopped to take it in
Well hopefully the hate subsides and the love can begin
It might start now, yeah
Well maybe I'm just dreaming out loud
Until then...

Come home
Come home
Cause I've been waiting for you
For so long
For so long
Right now there's a war between the vanities
But all I see is you and me
The fight for you is all I've ever known
Ever known
So come home

Everything I can't be
Is everything you should be
And that's why I need you here
Everything I can't be
Is everything you should be
And that's why I need you here
So hear this now...

Come home
Come home
Cause I've been waiting for you
For so long
For so long
Right now there's a war between the vanities
But all I see is you and me
The fight for you is all I've ever known
Ever known
So come home
Come home

"One of my favourite songs," I say quietly after we finish. Katniss drops her hands down on her lap and nods. I think about the stuff Johanna said to me a week ago. Not my story to tell.. She's fucked up.. "Are you okay?" I ask.

She doesn't have time to answer before my phone starts ringing. I stand up and answer it. "Hello?"

"Peeta, please listen to me. I'm sorry, I wish I could take it all back.. Go back and stop it all." My father.

I try to see the good in everyone. I try to understand where people are coming from. I love my father, but can't fathom how someone can watch their son get beaten daily. He had the power to stop.. he was just too scared.

"I can't talk right now, Dad. I'll see you..." When will I want to see him? "I don't know. I'll see you when I see you." And I hang up the phone.

I stare at the phone in my hands. It hurts me to speak to my father like that, it hurts me to not want to see him.. But after today, I need some time. I need some time to think and calm down after seeing my mother and Taftan. My hand runs the my blonde hair as I remember one particularly bad day.

"That'll be seven dollars and seventy-five cents today, Sae." I smile at our regular customer; an older lady who comes every week for muffins, a loaf of bread, and a cookie for her granddaughter.

She grabs the change from her small change pouch and counts it out. Her eyes widen. "Oh my.. I'm short two dollars. I-I usual have enough-"

I cut her off by grabbing the change from her hands, and sliding the brown paper bag filled with her baked goods toward her. "Don't worry about it." I say with an easy smile. I know Sae isn't that well off. Plus, it's only two dollars.

Her eyes reflect pure gratitude. She pats my hand and gives it a squeeze. "Oh, thank you so much, Peeta. I promise I'll have enough next time." I smile and wave her off. "God bless you." She gives me one last smile before walking out.

Right when the door closes after her, Taftan comes up to me. "Mom needs you in the back."

"I still have another hour here, and I though you were helping in the back?" I ask with confusion.

"I dunno. She told me to switch with you." Taftan barely shrugs before pushing me away from the cash register, and sitting on the stool by it.

I walk over to the back room, and barely have time to process anything before my mother starts screaming at me.

"What was that? Did you just wave off two dollars?" she grips my forearm so hard that her nails start to pierce my skin and draw blood. "If she couldn't pay for it, then she doesn't deserve to have it. They're sorry, grimy excuses of a human being. And they definitely do not deserve to have our food for less than it's worth."

"She's a regular. She's nice, and always pays the correct amount. Just take the two dollars out of my paycheck!" I say with anger seeping through. How can she call nice, loyal Sae a 'grimy excuse of a human being'?

Her laugh is cruel. "Look at you! Trying to be Mr. Hero. Trying to feel good about yourself? Trying to feel like you're good enough?" She says, "You'll never be good enough, Peeta. You're just an obstacle that gets in the way of everything."

"Mom, don't say that!" I shout with pain coursing through me. "Please, don't."

"If it wasn't for you... I could've had a great life. Me, your father, Ryan and Taftan. We could've done greater things than this bakery." She spits with hatred. "And I'll never love you."

I rip my arm from her grasp and shout, "If you hate me so much, why don't you just get rid of me? Why don't you send me off? Just do that instead of being a bitch to me!"

My head snaps to the right and my vision goes black momentarily when something smacks into the side of my head. I stumble to the ground when it hits me again on my cheek.

"Don't you ever call me that!" She hisses, and sends the rolling pin down on arm. "Oh, and trust me, I've tried! I've been trying for the last sixteen years, you piece of shit!"

I cover my face with my hands when the rolling pin comes down on me again. I slowly remove my hands from my face, and only have enough time to see Ryan, Taftan and Dad standing in the doorway watching, before my vision goes black after one last blow.

I woke up that next morning with a black eye, bruised cheek, a concussion, and scabs on my arm.

"Peet?" I turn around to see Ryan behind me with Johanna. I don't see Katniss anywhere.. "You alright?"

I look at them. They're looking at me with concern.. "I'm fine! Just.. I'm fine!" I snap, and push past them. I leave feeling worse than I have in years.

And that's pretty bad.

a/n: Awe. Poor Peeta. D:

Hope you enjoyed this!

Do you guys want next chapter in Katniss' POV?

Katniss POV will be rare in this story as it will be mainly Peeta.

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