a/n: This story was inspired by a prompt sent to me on tumblr by user otterfluff. I thought the premise was too good for just a drabble, so I have written a two-parter. It's darker than "A Thin Line" and "An Education of Peeta Mellark," (plenty of smut still), just a fair warning, but I hope you'll read and enjoy regardless.

Peeta Mellark was only 15 when he won the 68th Hunger Games. It was a fluke, mostly. Everyone had figured he was too soft to win—what chance did a baker's son from the poorest district stand against a brutal Career pack?

But Peeta wasn't soft; even at a young age, he had understood that there was something different about him, something that made the people around him extremely uncomfortable and drew the ire and the back of his mother's hand more frequently than his brothers did. So, for the sake of self-preservation, he learned very quickly how to hide this something behind false smiles and forced niceties. People liked this Peeta much better, and it was the Peeta he took to the Capitol. He wasn't nearly as tender-hearted and doe-eyed as his interview with Caesar Flickerman had led the audience to believe.

Still, not even Peeta had any illusions about winning the games. He'd allied with the Careers because it had been his only hope of getting any food—and he hadn't wanted to spend his last days alive starving to death. He'd brought in a decent amount of sponsors, based solely on his good looks and charm, so the Careers were mainly apathetic to his presence; they'd figure they could easily take him when the time came, despite his impressively large physique.

They hadn't known he would be such a whiz with a knife.

Growing up, Peeta'd had a lot of practice with slaughtering pigs. His family raised a couple at a time behind the bakery, and once a year, after the sow'd had her litter and the piglets had been weaned, he and his brothers were in charge of killing her in order to fill their plates with pork and barter it around town for other necessary supplies. But his brothers hated the process, and only Peeta didn't seem to mind the gruesome task so much, so, eventually, it fell to him alone. His years of wrestling made the practice a little easier to handle on his own.

On a pig, Peeta knew how to efficiently locate and puncture the carotid artery and jugular vein to drain the blood from the body. On a human, he learned it wasn't much different.

So, after the District 4 male tribute had quickly bled out in front of the cornucopia, Peeta had been crowned victor. In the Capitol, he had been lauded as a hero; in District 12, he'd been shunned as a monster. Even his own family couldn't stand to be around him, though they had no problem taking his money. His mentor Haymitch Abernathy had been little solace in the time after his victory, promptly retreating into his house in Victor's Village, rarely to emerge unless it was to feed his alcohol addiction.

Peeta was alone. There were times when he could still feel the warm, sticky blood of his fellow tributes on his fingers, the fluttering pulses under his palm. When he was lost in a haze of memories and terrors, he held onto that feeling, and it brought him back to himself.

But the loneliness was crushing. There were girls, of course, girls who sought him out around town, some he knew from school, some he didn't. It didn't matter; suddenly, they all wanted to know him. And though they opened beneath him willingly, though he found momentary respite while buried inside them, they would never really know him; they couldn't.

And that was fine with him.

The novelty of being a victor eventually wore off right around the time of the next games, when he watched his two tributes die. He now understood why Haymitch sought solace in alcohol. It was like losing himself in a woman—but without the annoying societal expectations of politeness and regard for other's feelings.

But the more he drank—the more unbearable he got—the less those girls liked him. Eventually, they stopped coming around. He was glad for that. But he still needed the release they provided, the physical gratification alcohol couldn't provide him. He was only 16, after all.

He passed the line of desperate Seam girls at Peacekeeper Cray's front door many times before he finally took one home with him. She had cried in relief, like he was doing her a favor.

Later that night, she'd left his house, crying for completely different reasons.

But he kept returning to those girls, and he knew by the cautious glances they gave each other that they knew about him; some probably would have prefered Cray. They never refused him, however; they needed the money. It was nice, he decided. At least these girls didn't bother with the pretense of liking him when all they wanted were his riches.

They did whatever he wanted—they had no choice but to. With them, he was in control. He could work out his anger and his pain on them. Sometimes they would cry silently, choking back sobs, but they never objected. Afterwards, every once in a while, the shame was so suffocating, he would cry and beg for their forgiveness. Most times, though...he marveled at how hard their hearts thrummed in their throats under his hands—how, if he just squeezed a little tighter, their pulses would flutter weakly, just like the District 4 tribute's had as he'd died...

Peeta had never come so hard before.

It was a cold night in March when Peeta first saw her. A light drizzle fell relentlessly, just hard enough to be irritating but not enough to force him to pick up his pace. He ambled away from the Hob, the buzz from the alcohol he'd consumed making him mostly impervious to the chill; he headed for Cray's, eager to release the pent-up energy he could feel creeping through his bones, threatening to force him out of his skin. Despite the rain, the line of girls was long—longer even than it normally was: At the end was a young girl he didn't recognize.

A really young girl.

That pulled him up short, and he stared at her, wiping the precipitation from his eyes and ignoring the plaintive, whispered pleas from the others. When she felt his gaze on her, she stiffened, her gray eyes going wide.

She couldn't have been any older than 11. She was thin, painfully thin. Her face was sunken and pinched, the circles under her eyes dark against her olive skin, the rain trickling through the cracks in her lips. Her arms were so thin, he was sure he could wrap his hand around one twice. His feet carried him to her before he even realized what he was doing, and she seemed to shrink into herself, her tiny, trembling hands tugging nervously on her wet braids and her ratty sleeves.

There was a kind of terror in her eyes he hadn't seen since the arena.

His face hardened, and he dug through his pocket until his fist closed around some coins; he yanked them out, flinging them at her feet. She jerked back as if she'd been slapped, and her wide eyes locked on his face, not comprehending. "Get out of here," he hissed at her, and she recoiled at the vehemence in his voice. "Take the money and get out of here. I don't ever want to see you here again. Do you understand me?"

She didn't move, rooted to her spot, and he snapped. "Are you fucking stupid? I said leave!" he barked angrily, and she finally startled, weakly bending down to scrape the coins off the ground. Her whole body shook—from fear or the cold, he didn't know—and it took her a long, tense moment to gather the coins. Then she spun around and darted back to the Seam, weaving unsteadily on her feet.

Peeta watched her go. He didn't move until he felt a hand tugging at his sleeve. His head barely moved as he took in the girl at his side, who tried to smile suggestively at him. Her eyes were dead, though. He slapped her hand away. "Fuck off," he snarled and stalked away, ignoring the cries of despair and anger that followed him all the way to Victor's Village.

He tried to push the girl from his mind as he stroked his hard cock that night, still aching for release. How sick and defeated she had looked. He didn't understand why this girl, out of the dozens, affected him so much—they all looked desperate and lifeless.

But she was so young...

His dick grew flaccid in his hand, and he growled, knocking over the toiletries on his sink out of frustration. Then he shoved his cock back into his pants in defeat.

He would find no relief that night—so he drank.

Something changed after that point.

When he saw that girl again, several months later, she was trading game in the Hob with an older boy by her side. She met his hard, questioning gaze, and recognition and shame flashed through her eyes before she trained her face into a mask of indifference. She avoided eye contact or any acknowledgement of him the rest of her time there.

Good, he thought. He didn't want to remember that night, either.

But he was glad he never saw her at Cray's again.

The next time he saw her was at the reaping for the 74th games, where he finally learned her name.

Katniss Everdeen stood stiff and resolute on the stage, despite the cries of her little sister in the crowd. Peeta didn't even notice when the male tribute was chosen—he couldn't stop looking at Katniss as he watched her from his spot on stage, his eyes riveted to the slight curve of her hips, the swell of her ass. The blue dress she wore was loose on her frame, but it clung to her budding feminine features nonetheless.

She was older now; sixteen or seventeen, he guessed. When Effie Trinket turned her around to lead her into the Justice Building, Peeta's eyes settled on her breasts—the small mounds looked like they would fit nicely in his palms. His cock twitched in his pants then; he was too heady with lust to be disgusted by his thoughts given the current situation.

He knew he was capable of much worse, really.

Peeta was intrigued by her. The frail, terrorized child he found outside Cray's four years ago was gone, and in her place a determined, hardened girl, who seemed wiser than her years suggested. She didn't cry or shake like most of the other tributes had when their names had been called. She didn't look like prey.

He thought he recognized something in her that he remembered about himself six years ago: She was a survivor.

He smiled to himself then. District 12 might just have a winner this year.

Haymitch was blitzed—not unusual for the older man. Peeta, however, paced himself on the train, wanting to keep a clear head for the opening ceremonies so he could adequately observe Katniss. She did her best to ignore him, either directing her questions to Haymitch or eating in silence and letting her tribute partner, Levi, carry the conversation. Levi was the butcher's son—Merchants were rarely reaped, but it wasn't unheard of. Obviously.

Peeta just smirked to himself through the rest of dinner, sipping his brandy leisurely while he sized her up.

The new District 12 stylists were miracle workers. Before, Katniss hadn't been much of a looker, despite his body's instinctual response to the sight of her developing curves, but now—now she was radiant, transformed by Cinna's skillful hands. Levi shined equally, but Peeta paid him little mind as the stylists readied the tributes for the parade.

As Peeta approached the chariot, Katniss met his gaze head-on this time, as if in challenge. He was pleasantly surprised. He smiled at her; she didn't flinch or duck his gaze, instead lifting her head higher as she climbed into the chariot.

He and Haymitch watched the District 12 tributes ride out into the City Circle; alongside them stood the stylists and Effie, who was fluttering in excitement. Peeta watched Katniss the entire time, mesmerized by the flames and her steely confidence. Still smiling to himself, he glanced over at Cinna, who felt his gaze and looked over at him expectantly.

"You gave her the shot, correct?" he asked casually, keeping his voice low. All the female tributes received a shot to regulate their cycles for when they were in the arena; menstruating was messy business.

Cinna regarded him warily before finally responding, "Yes." Peeta smiled wider, turning his attention back to their tributes.

They crowded around the long dining table afterward, the whole District 12 team, as Avoxes brought them dish after dish. Peeta didn't contribute much to the conversation, letting Effie, Cinna and Portia lead it. His eyes rarely left Katniss as he sipped his wine and sopped up gravy with his roll. Her eyes would lock with his periodically before flitting away, embarrassed and annoyed at being caught. He didn't smile when they made eye contact; he could tell this rattled her.

"What?" she finally barked, startling everyone else at the table. Peeta licked beads of wine from his lips and shrugged nonchalantly.

"Just trying to figure out what your strategy should be for the games," he replied. That seemed to confuse her, but Effie cleared her throat daintily.

"Perhaps we should save strategy talk for tomorrow," she suggested, looking pointedly at Peeta with a polite smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. Peeta lifted a shoulder indifferently, silently agreeing to drop the conversation—but he had a feeling Katniss wouldn't; in fact, he was banking on it.

He was right.

"And what should my strategy be?" she demanded, ignoring their escort, who stifled a sigh with her napkin. Peeta squinted at her critically, giving her a thorough once-over.

"Well, you're not very pleasant. That much is obvious. Charming viewers into liking you probably won't work. And you're not much to look at, are you? Kind of plain-looking, really." Her face grew redder with each insult, and he had to fight back a smile. Effie flushed at the bluntness of his statements.

"Peeta, where are your manners? I thought Katniss looked very lovely at the tribute parade." And she beamed at the girl, who continued to scowl at him from across the table.

He sighed. "Sure, with Cinna's help, she can pull off moderately attractive. But a pretty face is only going to pull you so many sponsors," he mused, swirling his wine in his glass. Haymitch finally chimed in, his voice muffled from behind his own glass of wine.

"Well, Blondie's right about that."

Effie shot him a look full of betrayal. Haymitch just rolled his eyes.

Katniss was bristling. "Then why are so many victors attractive? Seems to me like they get a lot of sponsors."

"They don't just rely on good looks. They've got the appeal to back it up in other ways. Levi, for instance—he's large, with a strong, sturdy stature from hauling dead carcasses all his life. Handy with a knife, too. The audience will immediately view him as a threat—he can play that up.

"So, what does a tribute do when they don't have a threatening countenance or any other imposing features? They can still use their bodies in other ways—they can seduce the audience. Sex sells, sweetheart, and I'm afraid you don't have a whole lot of that," Peeta said dryly. Her cheeks reddened from a mix of anger and embarrassment.

"If you coach me like you're supposed to—" she gritted out, but he cut her off with a snort.

"Coaching can only do so much. Look at you—you're as bland as toast. How can you expect to seduce anybody when you're scared of your own sexuality?"

Katniss' face practically purpled; a few of the others cleared their throats uncomfortably, and Effie gave a quiet, angry cough in an attempt to deter the conversation, but Katniss wasn't willing to let it go just yet.

"You—what do you know about me? You don't know anything."

He just shook his head, smirking. "I know enough just by looking at you. How exactly do you suppose you're gonna make people believe you want to fuck them when you've never even been fucked yourself?"

Silence settled around the table, everyone too stunned to speak until Katniss slammed her silverware down. "Fuck you," she snarled and stormed off to her room.

Haymitch sighed loudly. "Shit, Blondie, your people skills make me look like fucking Caesar Flickerman."

Effie was practically quivering with barely suppressed rage. "Peeta Mellark, what is wrong with you?" she hissed. He scoffed; that was a loaded question. "She's your tribute. You are responsible for her while she is here. What are you thinking saying those kinds of things to her? It's inappropriate and not the least bit helpful!"

Peeta shot her an exasperated look. "She's in the Capitol to fight to the death, Effie. I'm not her chaperon on a field trip. She deserves to know the truth about her prospects."

"You could try to be a little more positive," she insisted. "Who's going to want to sponsor a moody, surly tribute?" She huffed and dabbed her mouth with her napkin in an effort to regain her composure. Then she smiled brightly at Levi, who looked dismayed. "Don't worry, dear. We will all work effortlessly to secure sponsors for the both of you. Everyone loves a challenge!"

Haymitch scoffed and pushed away from the table, mumbling something under his breath about retreating to his room. The others did their best to stir the conversation again. Peeta just continued to stare in the direction where Katniss had disappeared.

Coverage of that night's parade had been playing nonstop all night, yet Peeta couldn't bring himself to change the channel. He was slumped down in an armchair in the common area, nursing a whiskey on the rocks, his eyes glazed as he watched the repeated loops of chariots and costumes and Caesar's obnoxiously enthusiastic descriptions.

He didn't even hear her approach until she materialized right in front of him, blocking his view of the TV.

His pulse spiked at the sight of her, but otherwise he didn't react beyond a quirk of his eyebrow.

Katniss glowered at him, her arms hugging her loose night shirt to her frame. Finally, she spoke. "You're wrong."

He pursed his mouth in amusement. "You're gonna have to be a little more specific, sweetheart. I'm wrong about a lot of things." He could tell the endearment aggravated her; it was a patronizing habit he'd picked up from Haymitch over the years. Most girls didn't react to it. She clearly hated it.

It made him want to use it more.

Katniss swallowed, keeping her voice low. "You're wrong. About me. I can be sexy. I can make viewers want me."

He pressed his lips into a thin line as he surveyed her. Her legs were bare, but the shirt hung down almost to her knees. Her hair was loose and wavy. He wondered if she'd painstakingly arranged this look or if she'd just rolled out of bed. He thought it might be the latter—natural, unintentional.

And that was incredibly sexy.

Licking his lips, he deliberately dragged his gaze from her naked legs to her face, taking his time to appreciate everything in between. Her blush was illuminated by the glow of the television.

"Convince me," he said simply, swigging his whiskey. Apprehension flashed through her eyes, but she shoved it back, sucking her bottom lip into her mouth. He knew what she was doing; he knew what she'd come for.

He recognized that look. He saw it often enough on the Seam girls he took home.

It was exactly what he'd hoped for.

She dropped her gaze to the floor briefly before looking back up; she looked at everything in the room but him as she tucked her hair behind her ear. "What...do you want me to do?" she asked, her voice cracking slightly. She cringed at the betrayal of her emotions.

The corners of his mouth curled slightly, but he kept his gaze hard. "Take off your clothes."

Her eyes widened, almost imperceptibly. "I—out here?" She glanced around the otherwise empty room.

Right. The last thing he wanted was an Avox to wander through and scare her off, not when he had her so close to where he wanted her. Knocking back the rest of his whiskey, he let the cup clatter to the end table and stood up; he motioned for her to follow him, not waiting to see if she obeyed.

She did.

Peeta led her into his room, shutting the door behind her. She stood in the middle of his room, shuffling from foot to foot nervously. Her back was to him, so he circled around her to sit down on the edge of his bed. She met his eyes then, and he raised his eyebrows expectantly. "Well?"

She dropped her gaze, running her hands up and down her arms slowly, as if she were trying to warm herself up. Then she set her jaw and curled her fingers around the hem of her shirt, carefully, begrudgingly, lifting it up. His cock seemed to swell with every inch of new skin revealed—her thighs, her stomach, her bare breasts. Her nipples were hard, pebbled by the cold air.

He so badly wanted to wrap his tongue around them.

Her shirt fluttered to the floor, and he finally tore his eyes away from her breasts to look at her face. "Those, too," he said, nodding to her underwear. Katniss hesitated for a moment and then hooked her thumbs in the waistband to push them down. Once she stepped out of them, he drank in the sight of the small shock of hair at the juncture of her thighs, dark against her olive skin. He was surprised her prep team left anything.

Her whole body seemed to close in on itself—her legs clamped together, and she still wasn't looking at him, her hands anxiously pulling at her hair and draping it over her shoulder to conceal as much of her nakedness as she could.

He stifled a sigh. "Come here," he commanded, and she drifted toward him, her eyes fixed on the ground. "If you have any hopes of seducing me, you need to look me in the eye, sweetheart."

Her nostrils flared, and when she locked eyes with him defiantly, there was anger and fear there.

He was determined to see if he couldn't change at least one of those.

Grabbing her hips, he drew her closer between his spread knees; she was stiff under his touch. He brushed her hair back over her shoulder, baring her breasts to him once again. His fingers danced down the curve of her neck and over her shoulders, then he dragged his palms down the slope of her breasts, his palms catching on her nipples. He heard her inhalation and began to knead her breasts, watching her face. He lifted the weight of them in his palms and rolled her nipples under his thumbs, pinching and tugging them with his fingers. Her mouth parted slightly as she breathed heavily, soft squeaks sticking in her throat. Her eyes were squeezed shut.

He smiled to himself, twisting her nipples slightly. She gasped, her hands flying up to grip his forearms. Replacing one hand with his mouth, Peeta sucked her nipple between his lips. When she moaned in surprise, he sucked harder, swirling the bud with his tongue. Her breaths were ragged from the intensity of his ministrations, and her hand aimlessly threaded through his hair to steady herself. Catching her nipple between his teeth, he worried it eagerly, and she moaned.

Peeta moved his mouth to taste her other nipple, and when he felt her start to squirm, he released her breast. "Are you wet?" he asked huskily.

Katniss struggled to blink her eyes open, confusion present in them under the haze of lust. "What?" she managed to force out.

He snorted lightly, swiping a hand between her thighs to drag his fingers through her damp folds. She cried out in disbelief and shock, and he held his moist fingers up to her face to show her, rubbing her arousal between his thumb and first two fingers. "Are you aroused? Never mind, I just answered my own question." Katniss flushed pink, untangling her fingers from his hair. "Get on the bed," he told her, standing up to move around her.

She faltered only a moment until she noticed him taking off his shirt, then she climbed awkwardly onto his large bed. He almost laughed out loud, but his mouth watered, regardless, as he took in the sight of her ass in the air, her swollen, dusky lips peeking through her thighs; he had to shake his head to remember what he was doing and yanked his shirt off his arms.

She turned around to watch him undress. He unbuckled his pants and pushed them down his hips. His underwear followed; he didn't miss the way her eyes widened when she glimpsed his cock. It strained upward, hard and aching, and he took it in hand to stroke it purposefully. Her cheeks colored, and the lump of fear and anxiety bobbed in her throat. It made him harder.

When she averted her gaze, he shook his head. "I told you to look at me," he said through clenched teeth as his hand pumped his shaft, drawing her attention back to the cut of his hips and the dirty blonde patch of downy hair that surrounded the base of his cock. His mouth tugged to the side in amusement, and he released his erection then, crawling onto the bed. Katniss lay down on her back stiffly, her breasts heaving with her quick, shallow breaths as he spread her legs open to kneel between them. He propped her knees up, and her folds parted almost eagerly, glistening and tantalizing; he could see the wetness seeping out of her, and he groaned in appreciation, his mouth filling with saliva, his cock twitching and leaking with his own anticipation. He couldn't wait to taste her, but he would have to—right now, he just wanted to fuck her, good and hard.

Peeta lifted his gaze to her face again—her eyes flitted all over the place, drifting to the ceiling, darting over his shoulder. He growled in annoyance. "How many times do I have to tell you to look at me, Katniss?" His tone seemed to enrage her, and she met his gaze then, her mouth and eyes hard. "Good girl."

She bared her teeth at him. "Don't talk to me like that."

But he just smiled mockingly at her. "Is this part of your seduction technique? It leaves much to be desired, honestly." She clamped her mouth shut, so he lowered his body to hers, leveling his forearms on either side of her head. The peaks of her breasts brushed against his chest, and their faces hovered only inches from each other. His cock grazed against her pelvis, making her twitch in apprehension, all her defiance from a moment ago melting away. But she kept her eyes locked on his face obediently, the gray of her eyes like cold steel. Peeta wrapped his fist around his cock again and shifted his hips back to position himself at her center, but she pushed on his shoulder then, glancing frantically between his face and his dick.

"W-wait, don't you need—I mean, what about protection—"

He grunted in the negative and shook his head, already easing the head of his cock through her folds. "You're fine. Those shots you got prevent pregnancy." He made a noise of approval as her body readily coated his head with her slickness.

Her hands were still pressed against his chest, like a gesture of refusal, when he slid into her some more; she gasped, her fingers digging painfully into the cord of muscles in his shoulders. He met the natural resistance of her body and shook his head, arching his hips back to slide out of her. "Don't do that. You're tensing—it's gonna make it worse," he instructed sternly. He wasn't sure she heard him, though, so he pushed into her again, then slid out, ebbing in and out little by little; her body fought him the entire way, her walls pushing against the intrusion. Her face was clenched in pain, her mouth an open circle, until, finally, their hips were flush—she gasped out her protest, her back bowing off the bed naturally.

"You'll get used to it," he groaned quietly, relishing the way she felt around him—this, this was one of the best feelings, second only to the moment of his actual release.

Katniss made whimpering, plaintive sounds, and he could sense her nervousness and displeasure; it was in the tightness of her limbs, the trembling of her thighs around his waist, the flexing of her fingers on his shoulders.

He suddenly realized he hadn't even kissed her yet. He'd gotten ahead of himself. Lifting his head, he made eye contact with her briefly before latching onto her mouth and slipping his tongue between her lips. Her mouth was slack at first as he slanted his against hers—had she never even been kissed before?—but his tongue quickly warmed hers up, stroking and plying until she was responding just as eagerly.

She finally seemed to melt under him, her breaths warm and accepting against his mouth, so he began moving, his hips setting a steady pace. She tensed again instantly, strangled noises muffled by his mouth, but he didn't stop. His tongue scooped into her mouth repeatedly as his hips curved against hers, and when she felt pliant beneath him again, he released her mouth to pant raggedly.

"Touch yourself," he grunted; he had to repeat himself before the words registered with her, and she blinked at him in disbelief.

"I don't...how..." she breathed, undulating her hips just slightly to meet his increasingly frenetic thrusts.

"You know how. Don't tell me you never finger yourself. Rub your clit," he gritted out, his palm squeezing between their bodies to cup her breast forcefully. She whimpered and closed her eyes, her cheeks stained pink; after a moment, she snaked a hand between her legs. When she made contact, she moaned softly, her head rolling back, and he felt the ripples of her hand as she stroked her clitoris—haltingly at first until she grew more confident and uninhibited. Discomfort still creased her face, but the pleasure was beginning to smooth it out. He surged into her harder, his hips rocking against hers desperately. Katniss cried out, and her legs fell open wider to welcome him completely. A strained smirk spread across his face.

Her breaths started to come fast and harsh, and when he heard her moans hitch in her throat, he knew she was close. Abruptly, he halted his movements and yanked her hand out from between their bodies, pinning it above her head with her other wrist.

Her face snapped up to stare at him in bewilderment. He was still smirking, and when he resumed his thrusts, her hands trapped between his, her face flushed in rage as she struggled against the restraint. "No! Why—" she whimpered and groaned as he pumped into her relentlessly, too weak to fight him. Desperate for her release she was so unexpectedly denied, she writhed underneath him, but he didn't keep his pelvis still long enough to provide her any sort of substantial relief.

His orgasm flooded through him then, and Peeta groaned as he spilled himself inside her, his body taut and trembling above hers. Once he'd finished, his cock pulsing and expelling the last of his semen, he rolled off of her, finally releasing her wrists. "Go clean yourself up," he directed, his voice gruff and emotionless, and he stretched out on his back, pushing his damp curls off his sweaty forehead.

Katniss didn't move or respond right away, too stunned and breathless. But then she barked in frustration and shoved him. "You asshole!" she hissed, tears gathering in the corners of her eyes, thickening her voice. She shoved him again, more roughly this time, punching and kicking whatever she could touch. He almost laughed, but he grabbed her hands in his fists, locking them above her head again as he maneuvered his frame on top of hers.

"What?" he taunted. She glared at him, her face splotchy and red, her eyes black. Wrapping his long fingers around both her wrists, he moved his free hand down between her thighs. "Is this what you want?" he murmured thickly as his fingers began to work her clit, rubbing tight circles over it. She tightened immediately underneath him, her face screwing up with pleasure—her previous anger was forgotten, it seemed. "I asked you a question, Katniss."

"Yes!" she shouted. "Yes, I want it, I want it, please, please, please," she chanted desperately, her hips bucking against his hand. It didn't take long to get her off—she shattered seconds later, moaning hoarsely as she shuddered and came. He waited for her eyes to flutter open and focus on his face before he retracted his hand and lifted his body off of hers.

"You still need to clean up. You're bleeding," he said dismissively as he left the bed to use the bathroom and clean himself of the blood and semen, as well.

Katniss was shy the next morning, back to avoiding his gaze. After he'd returned from the bathroom last night, he'd found her gone. He'd been mostly unbothered; he never let the other girls stay the night.

But waking up that morning alone had been oddly unsettling, especially when he thought back to the night before, how tight she was, how wet and willing she'd been. He had to jerk himself off in the shower after waking up, unbearably aroused by the recollection of their night.

He'd been with virgins before. There'd been nothing particularly special or commemorative about the occasions. If anything, he'd been annoyed with their inexperienced fumblings. Katniss hadn't known what she was doing, either. Aside from her own stimulation, she'd been less involved than a lot of the other virgins he'd been with.

Yet, he wanted more of her.

So he watched her unabashedly as he ate his breakfast. He could tell she wanted to look at him; she kept her eyes on her plate, but she sneaked glances at him through her eyelashes without making direct eye contact. He smiled smugly to himself, shoveling egg into his mouth.

Haymitch was rambling on about strategy for the next three days of training; Levi listened intently and nodded his head. Peeta wasn't sure if Katniss was paying much attention, but he knew he was only half-listening himself.

"When you're down there, don't reveal any of your skills with the bow or the knife, got that?"

That got Peeta's attention. "What?" That was a new strategy. The older man shot him an exasperated look.

"They need to spend their time learning things they don't already know. Save their talents for their private sessions, stay under the radar until then."

Peeta was already shaking his head adamantly. "No, they need to show the others what they're capable of. Intimidate the competition."

Haymitch scowled. "You want to paint huge red targets on your tributes' backs?"

"It's the strategy the Careers use, Haymitch!" he nearly shouted. Katniss and Levi's eyes bounced between their two mentors as they volleyed back and forth.

"We don't want the Careers paying any more attention to them, Blondie," Haymitch growled.

"You didn't seem to have a problem with it when I did it," Peeta snapped, and Haymitch narrowed his eyes.

"Yes, and look how well that turned out for you."

That silenced him; Peeta stared at him, perplexed. What did that mean? It had worked out well for him. He'd won, hadn't he? The plan had worked, better than he'd even expected it would at the time—he'd never even thought he could win.

Was the older man trying to say something about him presently then? Suddenly, Peeta understood; Haymitch was judging him. Judging him for his past actions in the games, judging him for his coping mechanisms ever since—judging him just like everybody back home did.

Hot rage coursed through his veins then, and his fist snapped closed around his tumbler of orange juice and vodka. He kicked his chair back suddenly as he stood up. "Fine, since you've got it all figured out, old man, what do you need me for?" he sneered, stomping out of the room, tossing back the rest of his drink. In the confines of his quarters, he flung the glass across the room; it shattered into shards and ice against the wall.

Breaking something felt nice. But it wasn't enough. So he hurled everything he could lift in his hands, vases and lamps and tacky, porcelain trinkets. He finally collapsed in an armchair, breathing heavily as he surveyed the damage. After a few minutes, he summoned an Avox to bring him more alcohol. She was taken aback when she saw the state of his room, but he'd hastily snatched the bottles from her and dismissed her before she could start cleaning. He liked the disarray. It fit how he felt on the inside.

Peeta languished in his room the rest of the day, well into the night. His presence and expertise clearly weren't needed, so what did it matter? He'd spread out across his bed hours ago, absently sipping some brandy. His head was fuzzy—he hadn't eaten since lunch, when he'd ordered a large meal, but, strangely enough, he didn't feel hungry in the slightest.

He wasn't sure what time it was when he heard a knock on his door—really late, was the best he could figure. He didn't bother answering it, certain it was one of the Avoxes, and he didn't want them in his room again.

The door slid open, however, and he lifted his head up from his pillow. It wasn't an Avox.

It was Katniss.

She wavered at the threshold when she saw the destruction of his room, but she forced herself to step inside, the door closing behind her. He snorted in amusement as he took her in. She was dressed exactly the same as the night before. "Here to finish me off, sweetheart?" he asked wryly, dropping his head back to the pillow. He lifted his cup to his mouth and noticed it was empty. Sighing, he let it fall from his hand; it rolled down to the carpeted floor.

"No," she said quietly, and he quirked an eyebrow at the ceiling.

"Then what do you want?"

She didn't respond right away, but after a beat, she murmured, "I want you."

He wasn't sure he had expected that answer. He blinked a couple times before a slow smirk stretched his lips across his face, and he propped himself up on his elbows to stare at her. "Well, you've got me. What are you gonna do with me?"

Her tongue darted out to wet her lips. Despite the alcohol, he felt his groin tighten at the gesture as he imagined just what he would like her to do with that tongue. She edged closer to his bed, and when she was beside him, she looked around the room uneasily before she cleared her throat and whipped her shirt over her head. His eyes lingered on her small, pert breasts, her nipples begging for his mouth.

But he was going to let her do the work this time.

She was clearly confused by his inaction, so she lifted herself onto his bed, moving to lie down beside him, but he grabbed her arm and shook his head. "No. On top," he directed, tugging her above him. Her eyes widened in alarm.

"No, you—"

"You said you wanted me, Katniss. So, take what you want," he said, sitting up some to remove his shirt. His chest bare, he lay back down and watched her expectantly. She was frozen with indecision before she pressed her lips together and hesitantly touched his chest, running her hands over the hard muscles there, threading and unthreading her fingers through the dusting of light blonde hair. He rested his hands on her hips, forcing her to sit down on his groin. He could almost feel her warmth through his pants, and he sighed softly, running his hands up and down her smooth thighs.

She seemed unsure where to go from there, so she leaned forward, closing her eyes as she pressed her lips to his. He opened his mouth and groaned in the back of his throat when she dipped her tongue inside, clashing with his clumsily. The tips of her erect nipples grazed his chest teasingly as she kissed him, and his pants grew increasingly uncomfortable. Still, he knew he was going to need a little more than that, so he palmed her breasts roughly, filling his hands with the fleshy orbs. Katniss moaned against his mouth, and he broke the kiss abruptly.

"Sit up, I want to suck on your breasts," he ordered, and she floundered for a moment before angling her body so her breasts were in his face. He immediately sucked one nipple into his mouth and pinched the other. She gasped, jerking forward slightly, but she lowered herself down to him more; he opened his mouth to accept more of her breast, flicking his tongue over her nipple.

Katniss writhed and moaned above him under his greedy ministrations, one hand bracing herself up and the other shakily combing through his hair. He slid one hand up the inside of her thigh and traced a finger along the seam of her panties, quickly darting it underneath the damp crotch to tease her slit. "Oh!" she whimpered, her hips rocking of their own accord, trying to generate more friction on her clit. He pushed his finger inside her to draw more of her wetness out.

He pushed her back suddenly; a lustful haze clouded her eyes, and her mouth dipped into a frown until she heard his next words. "Now," he grunted, unfastening his pants and pushing the rest of his clothes off. "I want you to ride me."

She nodded dumbly. He kicked his pants and boxers off and forced her to sit down so he could tug her panties off. He gave his shaft a few quick pumps to make sure he was at full attention, then he forced her onto her shins, hovering her middle at the tip of his cock, but he stilled his hands and locked eyes with her. And waited for her to do the rest.

She got the hint, shifting her hips slightly to ease the head of his cock through her folds, then she sunk down onto him until he was sheathed inside her completely. She bit down on her lip, stifling a pained groan, and he hissed through his teeth as her walls contracted around his cock. He let her adjust a moment before he thrust his hips to spur her on. "It'll feel better once you start moving," he offered, his eyes fixed on her breasts. He actually didn't know if that was true—but he knew it would feel better for him.

Bracing her hands against his chest, she moved unsteadily at first, not sure which direction she wanted to go, but his mind was too foggy with alcohol to assist her; he was content to lie there and let her take control this time. Finally, she settled into a steady, rocking rhythm, her pelvis remaining locked with his so she could stimulate her clit. The tightness of her face lessened until her mouth hung open, her eyes closed, as she gulped for air greedily. Her breasts swayed enticingly before him, and he slid his hands up her ribcage to rest them in his palms. As he massaged them, she began to mewl loudly, her moans echoing around the room.

"Ah, fuck, you feel good," he murmured, rolling his head back; his hips thrusted up into her with a certain amount of measured control. And she did feel good—nice and tight and wet, but he knew the alcohol had dulled the sensation some because it didn't feel nearly as good as it had the night before. Still, he was enjoying watching and feeling her ride him so enthusiastically.

When she came, she cried out sharply, nearly straining off him, but he pushed down on her hips so he wouldn't slip out of her; he started thrusting into her harder. "Don't stop," he gasped harshly. After a moment of panting and trembling, she began to move again, following the direction of his hands so she was sliding up and down the length of his cock instead of rocking forward. Admittedly, that felt better, but after a few minutes of this he already knew he wasn't going to come. There was too much alcohol in him. But he didn't stop her for another ten minutes or so, still desperately clinging to the hope he could get off. Once he noticed the discomfort in her face, probably from the pain of propelling herself on her calves for so long or the lack of lubrication, he sighed roughly and halted her movements.

"Just—stop. It's not going to happen," he said sourly, forcing her off his cock. He was already softening, and he rolled his eyes in disgust.

"Oh," she whispered, her eyes round with disbelief and confusion. She plopped down onto the bed beside him, hard. "Did I do something wrong?" she asked after a moment's silence.

He shook his head, laughing bitterly. "No, Katniss. You didn't. I'm just too drunk to finish." Exhaustion was already setting in, and he flung his arm over his face, covering his eyes. Sleep. He needed to sleep it off.

The sheets rustled beside him as Katniss shifted for a solid minute, obviously unsure what to do. "Okay," she said simply. "I guess...I'll go then."

"Just go to sleep, sweetheart," he yawned, not even bothering to get dressed or cover himself. "We'll try it again later."

Peeta was a little surprised to find her still in his bed the next morning; he didn't remember falling asleep. He had to quash his usual irritation while shaking off the fog of sleep and a hangover, reminding himself who it was. She must have gotten up at some point and redressed because she had her night shirt back on. He chuckled quietly when he realized she had draped his boxers over his groin, too.

Katniss didn't stir, curled up in the fetal position on the other side of the bed, tucked against the wall. She was breathing softly and evenly, so he rubbed a hand over his face then pushed himself off the bed, letting his boxers fall to the floor as he walked to the bathroom. He wasn't sure how long he was in the shower, letting the hot water beat against his tired muscles, but when he emerged, his bed was empty. She'd slipped away again. He frowned pensively as he dressed himself, mussing his damp hair.

He must have been in the shower for a while because when he wandered into the dining area, everyone was already seated, even Haymitch. Katniss acknowledged him briefly, but she still seemed flustered by his presence in the company of others. Peeta noticed the empty seat beside her, and he smiled to himself, taking it as an invitation.

"Good morning," he greeted cheerfully. The others gave him guarded looks, considering his behavior the day before, but Effie and the stylists were unfailingly polite if nothing else and welcomed him warmly.

"Good morning," Katniss mumbled into her glass of orange juice; he caught the light blush highlighting her cheekbones, and his grin widened. She was impossibly sexy in her modesty. She was a conundrum, he thought, as he recalled how she'd appeared in his room the night before, so direct and bold in her assertion of her desires. He felt his groin stirring already, and he piled food onto his plate to distract himself.

But now all he could think about was the way she'd writhed above him, her breasts bouncing and her abdomen rippling with her efforts. Fuck. He was getting hard. He wished he hadn't been too drunk last night to get off.

He looked at her out of the corner of his mouth as he ate, noticing how tense and rigid her body was as she ate halfheartedly. He wondered if she was thinking about last night, too. The way her thighs were clenched together told him she probably was. He smirked.

"How was training yesterday?" Haymitch finally asked, biting into a crispy strip of bacon. Levi chimed in first to relay the events of the previous day in the training center, Katniss throwing in unenthused confirmations here and there. Her mind was clearly elsewhere, Peeta was sure. Dropping his hand under the table, he discreetly reached it across the small distance between them to her lap. She jumped when his palm slid across her thigh, but she covered it with a cough and took a sip of her drink, her face flushing red. She watched him out of the corner of her eye but didn't dare turn her head to look at him. He kept his attention on the conversation at hand as he quietly ate his melon slices, simultaneously slipping his hand between her thighs.

She grabbed his wrist then to stop him; he heard the uptick in her breathing at the proximity of his hand to her center. Slowly sucking the melon into his mouth, he extended his middle finger, barely brushing against the fabric of her leggings, the thin fabric providing little barrier to her middle. She inhaled sharply, her eyes fluttering closed briefly as he swept his fingertip up and down the crotch of her leggings, the pressure on her folds a fleeting, teasing sensation. After a tense moment, she uncurled her fingers from his wrist and released his hand, allowing him to press his hand against her center fully. Katniss snatched a croissant off her plate and stuffed it into her mouth to stifle her heavy breathing.

Swallowing the juices of the melon, Peeta bit a piece off of the slice and chewed it slowly, as he rubbed her clit through her pants. He knew she was trying hard to muffle her pleased sounds; her fist was squeezing the croissant so hard it was crumbling in her hand—her other hand was turning white from gripping the table edge so tightly.

Popping the rest of the melon into his mouth, Peeta casually observed the other occupants of the table; no one seemed to notice her behavior or the way his arm flexed almost imperceptibly as they chattered endlessly about training and the games. He didn't care—his entire focus was on the heat and wetness between her thighs, which was slickening his hand even through the fabric of her clothes. Katniss kept taking bites of the croissant, but she didn't appear to be swallowing any of it, her cheeks puffing out as she hoarded the flaky roll in her mouth—her sounds were getting a little louder, and though she made an effort to keep them open, her eyes kept shutting for longer periods of time; finally she just cast her head down, some of her hair falling in front of her face to conceal how heated she was.

He didn't move his fingers any faster, but he bore down harder; she came soon after, the croissant mashed in her fist as she pressed it to her mouth. She whimpered in the back of her throat, a little too loudly, drawing strange looks from a few of the others. Peeta stopped moving his hand as she throbbed against his fingers in an attempt to deflect any suspicions. The others soon turned back to their food and the conversation; only Haymitch seemed to be watching the two of them intently, a strange look in his eyes. Peeta raised his eyebrows, biting into another slice of melon, and then he turned his head to Katniss, whose whole body seemed to sag now, the crushed croissant still pressed to her lips.

"Those are amazing croissants, aren't they?" he threw out casually, chuckling darkly when she managed a weak nod.

When the tributes were dismissed to get changed for training, Katniss practically ran from the table, shooting him a nasty glare as she went. Peeta just grinned to himself as he finished the rest of his breakfast.

Later that day, he and Haymitch had to meet with Capitol residents to start securing potential sponsors for their tributes. They had just stepped into the elevator when the older man fixed him with a pointed look. Peeta arched an eyebrow curiously. "What?"

"Whatever you're doing with that girl, you need to stop," he said harshly. Peeta blinked, trying not to smile.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he said innocently, but Haymitch glared at him.

"She's too young, Blondie."

Peeta shrugged, leaning against the glass wall of the elevator. "Not as young as you think," he replied cryptically, letting his smile slip through this time, but Haymitch shook his head.

"She's your tribute. I'm telling you, it's a mistake. You don't want to get too attached," he warned. "I've been at this for a while. Trust me."

Peeta glowered suddenly, pushing off the wall. "And you know everything, don't you?" he snarled, stalking out of the elevator when the doors slid open on the bottom floor. He wasn't attached to her. He just wanted to fuck her. Like the other districts didn't deal with this; he knew for a fact it happened with the Career districts. He'd already overheard one of the District 1 mentors bragging about bagging the female tribute, Glimmer.

He was doing Katniss a favor, really. She could very well die in a week's time—shouldn't she soak up every last bit of pleasure she could?

Feedback appreciated! Pretty nervous about this one :)