My eyes flutter open Katniss's name leaving my lips almost instantly. I could remember Katniss calling my name, watching Brutus kill Chaff, and having to kill Brutus myself. I knew things were going wrong as soon as the wire Johanna and Katniss were carrying to the beach was cut. I tried to run to Katniss, get to her before anyone could hurt her because that was my dying wish that was my goal, to keep her safe. I had heard struggling and grunting in a clearing and ran into it expecting Katniss and Johanna to be fighting. Instead, I found Brutus and Chaff fighting each other. I had yelled for them to stop, but I was too late. I made it just in time to watch Brutus pierce Chaff through the heart with his sword. I was Brutus's next target, and if I knew for certain Katniss was okay I wouldn't have done what I did, I would've let him kill me, but I needed to protect Katniss so I drove my knife into his heart. The guilt swelled up in me, but I didn't have a choice. Just as he fell to the ground dead, and the cannon sounded, I could hear Katniss calling my name weakly. She sounded lost and confused so I ran towards her voice, the voice that I knew so well, the voice that belonged to the love of my life.
Only I didn't reach her in time. I was just making my way back to the lightening tree when the force field around the arena exploded into a shower of sparks and fire. I put my arms in front of my face to shield it from the shower of sparks. Katniss's voice ceased and I was suddenly terrified that whatever had happened just killed her. I yelled her name over and over, and could just barely make out her calling my name in return. I was so close to reaching her when the hovercraft clamped down on me and lifted me out of the arena. I struggled, trying to get free of the claw, but it was no use. Everything after that though, was just a blur. Now, I needed to figure out where I am and if Katniss is safe.
For the first time since I opened my eyes I notice the medal restraints around my wrists and ankles. Fear is the first thing that runs through me, but not fear for myself, fear for Katniss.
"Katniss!" I yell, my voice echoing throughout the room. This wasn't how it was supposed to happen. I was supposed to die, and Katniss was supposed to live. A feeling of failure runs through me, and I pray I hadn't failed to keep her alive.
"She's been taken to thirteen." I turn towards the hoarse voice, to find a beaten up Johanna next to me. Dried blood was smeared across her face, her hands stained with blood. The dry blood makes me wonder how long we've been here, wherever here was. Enobaria and the mad girl from four - Annie sit next to her, all in the same positions as me. All four of us trapped in medal chairs in a large white room.
"What do you mean?" I ask slightly afraid of the answer.
"The rebels have her. She's safe." She gives a cough and I relax slightly knowing Katniss is alive, and safe, though I was still confused as to what had happened and where we are. The word rebels also confuses me, I had known there were uprisings. That was the very thing Katniss and I were trying to extinguish on the Victory Tour. Though, we had failed. The question that runs through my mind is, how did the rebels get her out of the arena?
"Peeta, we're in the Capitol." I become fearful, but not as much as I should be. Katniss was safe. I wasn't, but in the end wasn't that how I wanted it to be? Just then a peacekeeper walks in dressed in white from head to toe, his large boots echo throughout the room. A helmet that all the peacekeepers wear is placed on his head, and torture devices in his hand. The sort of devices that make you sick, like whips, and electrical shocks, and advanced weapons clearly made in the Capitol with high tech technology. Weapons I couldn't even put a name to. That moment is when I realized this wouldn't be a quick end.
His feet echo in the large white room, which I take notice of for the first time. I notice the drains on the floor and I feel instantly sick. What else would they need drains for in this room other than the previous people who have been taken captive? Drains clearly designed for the victim's blood to wash down into after being beaten, or killed. Chains and restraints hang from the top of the walls, with the unmistakable blood stains behind them causing my head to spin even more. He walks lazily, and calmly to the side of the room almost as if he's waiting for someone.
Almost on cue President Snow walks in, his lips puffier than normal, his face an expressionless mask. He walks over to me first; as he gets closer the scent of blood and roses hits me hard causing me to feel sick. My stomach turns and I idly wonder where the scent of blood came from? Does he drink it? The image of Snow drinking blood causes my stomach to flip with unease, and nausea.
"Peeta, this can be easy, or it can be hard." I stay silent watching him carefully.
"This depends on Katniss though, not you." At the mention of Katniss I feel my stomach drop. Oh no.
"Leave, Katniss out of this." I snap, the distaste and bitterness I felt dripping heavily into my tone.
"Or what?" This question takes me back. What could I do? Nothing. That's what I could do. "I want you to call for a cease fire, on live TV. If she doesn't listen, well you will become the best weapon possible to use against her." We're both still just pieces in his game. We may have left the arena, but the games aren't over. This is a whole new type of games.
"Start getting information out of that one." Snow says turning to the peacekeeper pointing directly at Johanna, with no attempts at being discreet. He couldn't care less if Annie, Enobaria, and I knew what was about to happen to Johanna. I look to Annie, her eyes wide with fear as her eyes meet mine. For a second I wonder what she's doing here, and then I'm back in the arena. Finnick and Katniss huddled against the glass separating us, holding their ears trying to block of the screams, and cries of the Jabberjays. Katniss was hearing Prim's screams, and I remember Finnick saying he heard Annie's screams. So, that's why Annie's here, as a weapon against Finnick.
The peacekeeper walks towards Johanna a grin on his face. The kind of menacing grin that sends chills down your back, the kind of grin that only someone who enjoys inflicting pain on others would have.
"So, sweetheart. What do you know about the rebellion?" His voice is taunting and almost playful like it was all a big joke, which makes the whole thing more twisted then it already is. She gives him a glare pressing her lips into a hardline.
"Not going to speak?" He asks with a chuckle. I watch terrified for her as he pulls out a small knife. Just like the one Clove was going to use on Katniss in the first games. How long ago that game felt was surprising. Could that have only been a year ago? He presses the tip of the knife at the edge of her lip drawing blood almost instantly, the silver blade slowly becoming red with blood. She whimpers which causes him to grin, and laugh without humor. Very lightly he traces the edge of her lips with the knife until she's almost crying from the pain.
"Ready to talk yet?" His hand runs across her cheek almost like he was caressing her cheek, which I can tell by the hate in her expression, was a very cruel gesture. Her words from the arena run through my mind "I'm not like the rest of you. There's no one left I love." If those words were true, no one had touched her like that in a while, and I'd bet the last person she wanted touching her in that way was this peacekeeper. She's shaking slightly the blood from her lips trailing down her face staining her clothes red.
Snow turns away from the peacekeeper and Johanna turning his attention to me. He unlocks my restraints grabbing my arm harshly. I glance back at Johanna once more and regret it. The peacekeeper has her arm in his hands snapping her wrist like a twig. A cry of pain from her sends chills up my spine causing me to shiver and I'm thankful to be drug out of the room, leaving the screams and pain behind.
Portia my stylist from the games gets me ready for the interview. Neither of us have much to say; we're both stuck in the same position, both here in the Capitol with little hope of living. What were we supposed to say to one another? That we're sorry for each other's lot? That we're glad we knew each other? Once she's done a peacekeeper comes to collect me, escorting me down the hall. I compose my face erasing all traces of fear from my face as best as I could. Katniss couldn't see that I was afraid. We walk onto the set Katniss and I had done our interview on after our first games. The small stage with two seats, one for Cesar and one for me, the seat for me replaces the love seat that had once been on this stage for Katniss and I. The same stage she ran into my arms and kissed me on. The memories hit me hard running it's coarse through my body, leaving a dull ache where my heart is.
Cesar walks on to the set followed by me. I had always been good with words, but right now good wasn't enough. I needed to be excellent. The cameras start rolling and I compose myself quickly. Cesar starts out simple, with easy questions and it's like our normal banter. Then, Cesar's expression becomes serious and the mood in the room shifts.
"Peeta, would you tell us what happened that last night in the arena?" I take a deep breath and nod once before beginning.
"First, you need to understand what it's like in the arena. There are twenty four of us and so quickly there were eight of us. Just like that, friend turned on friend killing them without blinking an eye. These were people who had known each other for years. Killing someone though, costs all that you are. Once you've killed them they never leave you. But, what else can you do? It's either kill or be killed, but once their life has been taken away at your hands, they truly never leave you. The guilt lives with you forever. It costs all that you are, to murder innocent people."
I pause letting my words sink in. I could feel all of Panem leaning in; even just in this room I could tell how intently these people were listening. They were hanging onto every word I spoke.
"When you have allies it's almost worse. You come to trust them, to care for them, to owe them for saving you over and over. How are you supposed to just turn around and kill them? Then you have the arena, set up like a clock, with every hour promising a new horror. Tick tock. You had the blood rain, the poisonous fog, the wave, the jabber jays, the killer monkeys, the lightening tree and a few more we never discovered. The rosy pink sky, the perfect circle, with the hands of the deadly clock ticking by. And then Katniss. She was my biggest enemy in the arena. We were both working for cross purposes. She wanted me to live, and I wanted her to live. There was no changing each other's minds. Nothing I could've said, or done would've changed her mind, and vise versa." Cesar nods and let's my words fill the room into a complete silence. You could hear a pin drop.
"I found myself regretting not running off with Katniss as she had suggested. I should've never let them split us up. Maybe if we had run off she would be sitting here as a victor and I would be dead, and maybe just maybe we wouldn't be in this mess." I rub the back of my neck as a sigh escapes my lips feeling the regret strongly now, and the ache in my heart, the ache for Katniss increases.
"What do you think about Katniss working for the rebels, and blowing up the arena?" The implication that Katniss had any idea what was going on causes anger to flare up in me.
"Neither of us knew anything! Our own mentor Haymitch had turned us into pieces of a much bigger game. She was confused! You could tell she didn't know what she was doing! She was trying to figure out Beetee's plan, and go along with it!" I'm standing up now gripping the arms of Cesar's chair yelling at him. The fact that he's implying Katniss knew anything about the rebels infuriates me.
Cesar put's his hand on my chest defensively, but it also felt like it was a gesture to say he was sorry. With that I back away, sitting back down in my chair.
"I was going to ask about your thoughts on the rebellion, but if you're too angry…" He trails off and looks at me. I give a sigh and shake my head, rubbing my hands over my face.
"Oh, I'm not too angry to talk about that." Here was my one chance to keep Katniss safe, to do what Snow wanted me to do.
"I want to call for a cease fire. If we keep this up, many people will die. We could easily kill off the whole of Panem in this war, we can't afford that. Katniss, think about what you're doing. Ask yourself, do you really trust the people telling you what to do? If not, figure out what's going on."
My words hang in the air for a moment, and Cesar ends the show. Snow walks up to me almost instantly grabbing my arm harshly again, dragging me back to the torture room. He shoves me into the chair and lets the peacekeeper lock my restraints into place.
"Now, if the girl listens we won't have a problem. But, if she doesn't back down you become a weapon against her. Just like Annie is against Finnick." I swallow hard trying to hide my fear. I close my eyes trying to reach Katniss between all the thousands of miles between us, trying to will her to call for cease fire, so she can come back to me. It's no use I can't reach her. Snow leaves and the peacekeeper turns back to Johanna. Blood still running down her face, her clothes covered in blood and sweat from the pain. Her eyes are wide and full of fear, she looked absolutely awful.
Half her head was shaved, her hair lying on the floor next to her chair. She was soaked in water, burnt marks on several parts of her skin. The burn marks, the water, it all clicks in my mind instantly. She had been drenched and then electrocuted. Her wrist sat twisted in an unnatural way, a way no one's wrist should ever twist. Cuts and blood were everywhere on her face, and on her arms. I dare to move my eyes to Enobaria to find her in almost the same condition as Johanna. They both must've had information about the rebellion, and it seemed neither was willing to give up that information. Even, if that information could save their lives.
"Come on, sweetheart. All you have to do is talk." His voice comes out taunting and light, almost like he was teasing her. When she says nothing, he shrugs and draws back the whip letting it land squarely across her face. It draws blood almost instantly. The scene sends me back to when Katniss got hit in the cheek by a whip. Suddenly I feel that aching, and that longing again. Johanna is panting the pain clear in her eyes and expression. Her face was almost completely covered with blood. She was almost utterly unrecognizable. The peacekeeper pulls out a razor and slowly shaves off the rest of her hair.
"Stop!" I yell, unable to help myself. It was too awful to be watching. I didn't enjoy seeing people in pain, especially someone who had been my ally. After receiving physical and mental abuse from my mother growing up, I couldn't stand the thought of someone in pain. He turns towards me, I knew he wasn't allowed to do anything to me but he could still knock me out I'm sure.
"I'm not supposed to touch you yet, but I can give you morphling." He says echoing my thoughts, and I shrink back in my seat trying to disappear as he walks towards me. The needle slams harshly into my arm. The effects of the morphling are quick. Just as it drags me under I hear a loud crack and a painful cry from Johanna, and I become grateful for the morphling.
When I wake up again Snow is standing in the corner of my room, I was unsure if he was waiting for me to wake up or just observing Johanna and Enobaria's conditions. Neither are conscious.
"So, Peeta. Katniss had decided to ignore your call for cease fire, and become the mockingjay." Damn is all I'm able to think. I was going to end up like Johanna and Enobaria. Snow turns to the peacekeeper and speaks loudly and clearly letting his words echo in the big white room. They don't make sense at first, and then it clicks.
"Take him for the first step of hijacking." My eyes grow wide, like a deer in headlights. I wasn't positive what this meant, but I knew it wasn't good.
The peacekeeper nods and comes to me undoing my restraints. I try wriggling free terrified of what's about to happen. He drags me into a separate room which happens to be pitch black. He tosses me onto the ground harshly. The cold air runs its icy fingers up my body raising goose bumps instantly. I'm just getting to my feet when a doctor walks in holding a needle. I back into a corner looking for an escape. He gently puts the needle into my arm injecting something that felt very familiar. The way it clouded my mind, the way it stung as it entered my blood stream was all too familiar. I'm not able to place it at first, but as soon as it's made its way through me I know exactly what it is. Tracker jacker venom.
He exits the room leaving me on the ground dazed and confused. Soon the walls light up with images from the games. Katniss and I in the cave, Katniss dropping the nest of tracker jackers on me, Katniss saving my life all of the images start to blur, the venom changing them into something they're not. Hallucinations. I had to remind myself in my clouded mind that this wasn't real. This isn't what happened. The images of it show a lot of pain. It almost looks as if Katniss wanted to kill me.
This couldn't be real. My hands start shaking the images playing over and over engraving themselves into my mind, replacing the memories with the hallucinations. A lot of pain and lying is what I get from the images. I knew the first games everything was just a show for Katniss, but it couldn't be all a show in the Quarter Quell. Could it have been? I was pretty sure Katniss was working to keep me safe. She was willing to give her life up so I could live. She wanted for me, what I wanted for her, which told me even if she didn't know it herself that she was in love with me. Or was she? An internal argument starts the memories against the hallucinations. Somewhere during the internal fight I black out. When I open my eyes I'm in my chair again. I look around confused, what had happened? Was that all just a nightmare?
As I look around me I find not just Johanna, Enobaria, and Annie with me this time. Darius, and the other avox girl that waited on us before the games, are across the room facing us. A peacekeeper walks in and goes to the two avox's. The two in this room, who couldn't speak if they wanted to, who couldn't beg for mercy. I feel helplessness as I watch the peacekeeper approach them. The girl's eyes meet mine and I can read the fear in her eyes. He pulls out the electrical shocks, and attaches one end to the medal leg on the chair Darius is in.
The other end of the electrical shock is placed on the restraint on his wrist. The peacekeeper moves off the side to press a button that drenches Darius in water. The effect is immediate, he's electrocuted, and the gargling screams that come out of his mouth are horrid. The scream sends goose bumps up and down my arms. I wish I could move my hands to cover my ears, but the restraints wouldn't allow it. The screams engrave themselves in my mind, and I know there isn't a chance I would forget the sound. The shock is too much and kills him instantly, and I know the girl won't be so lucky.
The peacekeeper starts out by cutting her lips from her face and I shrink back against my chair trying to ignore the horrors playing out in front of me. My hands shake and my mind is fuzzy. The same gargled screams of pain come from her, the screams of an avox. He slowly removes parts of her body a grin placed on his face the whole time. The screams continue and they seem endless. I wanted her pain and suffering to end. I didn't know the girl, but she in no way deserved to receive this kind of pain.
No one deserved to feel that kind of pain. The blood flows from her body staining the peacekeepers white boots red, as it flows into the drains. The image makes me sick and I wish I could somehow black back out. I could hear a sobbing to my right and I look over to see Annie crying. She wasn't enjoying the show much, either. The gargled screams, and blood flowing seems to be endless. I so badly wanted to reach out and help her, but there was nothing I could do. She was a goner.
Something about this reminds me of the first games, on top of the cornucopia locked in Cato's headlock, the wrong movement threatening to snap my neck and kill me instantly. His words run through my mind. "Go on, shoot and we both go down and you win. Go on. I'm dead anyways, I always was right? I didn't know that until now. Is that what you wanted!? Oh, nu-uh. I could still do this, one more kill. Bringing pride to my District, not that it matters." This girl, just like Cato can't be saved. She's just another piece in the games, just another dead tribute. Just like Cato. Just another causality to get to the end, to have a winner, of these games. Let the seventy-sixth Hunger Games begin, I think to myself.
Suddenly the screams stop and I tear my eyes away from the pool of blood on the floor and see the peacekeeper has slit her throat. She didn't have it as easy as Darius; he had a quick end, though painful. Hers was long and torturous. President Snow walks in then, unaffected as if he hadn't even noticed the two dead people beside him and the pool of blood on the floor. He walks straight towards me and begins talking.
"Peeta, we want you to do another interview. We're giving this one more try." My eyebrows knit together; maybe it was all a nightmare, the hijacking. I'm taken down to Portia and my prep team. They prep me quickly; I look in the mirror shocked by how I've deteriorated. My normally broad shoulders, thinned out. My cheek bones defined, bags under my eyes, sheen of sweat breaking out across my forehead, I didn't look like me. Portia whispers in my ear.
"You need to warn them in thirteen, Snow is planning to bomb them in the morning." I nod meeting her eyes in the mirror. She knew I would do it even if it ended in torture. I needed to keep Katniss safe, and alive. It was and still is my dying wish. That's when I realize, we really are still in the games, fighting to keep each other alive.
Once the camera's start rolling, Cesar starts talking about pointless stuff really. I sigh tiredly. My hands are shaking and I tap my foot nervously, and unsteadily. Something was wrong with me I could tell, it was even hard to think straight. I talk about how the rebellion will affect the population. Pointing to maps of Panem, and the populations. What was I thinking? This wasn't going to get Katniss to stop the rebellion. I stop talking when I'm not shown on the screen anymore, but Katniss is. I freeze drinking in her healthy look; she was in the middle of war somewhere. I notice, the buildings burning around her, bombs falling from the sky as she walks through the rubble. Her words ring through the studio.
"Fire is catching, and if we burn you burn with us."
Suddenly I'm back on the screen, and speechless; I stumble over my words trying to get back on track with what I was saying. I'm interrupted by Katniss several more times. Suddenly I can't hold it back any longer. Once I'm back on the screen I start talking quickly.
"Katniss, think about what you're doing! Is this really what'll help us? All of you in thirteen, dead by morning." Snow looks at me infuriated, and sends a peacekeeper in my direction. Though, I hadn't directly said anything about the bombing my words were just enough indication. Someone knocks over the camera, and all that's shown is the white tiled floor of the set.
As the peacekeeper reaches me he pulls out a whip hitting me straight down the back right over my spine, the pain feeling like needles running up and down my back, I fall over yelling out in pain. My blood hits the floor, directly in the camera's view. My blood stains the floor. The whip comes down on me again this time hitting my side. I curl up in a ball the pain racking through my back and side. I'm yanked from the ground and drug back to the torture room. Johanna and Enobaria are now awake, and they watch with wide eyes as I'm thrown onto the floor.
The peacekeeper's foot lands squarely in my side, in the same spot the whip had landed. I cry out the pain excruciating. It was the kind of pain that knocked the breath out of you, the kind of pain that made tears form in your eyes. The kind of pain you never want to feel. I slide backwards at the impact. He walks towards me, his knife in hand. He presses it into my shoulder blade causing me to whimper with pain. The knife blade follows a trail down my arm, and into the palm of my hand. Blood flows steadily down my arms leaving my blood on the white floor. The sight of my blood flowing into the drains is sickening. Watching it flow into the drain causes my stomach to twist into knots.
His foot slams down on my ankle, causing a cracking sound. I can't hold back the scream of pain. I have to remind myself I did this for Katniss. She'll be safe now, my pain was worth this. It's the kind of pain though, that makes you wish you were dead. I'm shaking as the whip lands on my cheek drawing even more blood. The blood flows down my face into my open my mouth. I cough spitting it out. Just as I do the door opens and Snow walks in. I curl my bleeding and beat body into a tight ball as if it would ward off the nightmares sure to come.
Snow makes his way over to me. Hatred clearly painted on his face. You did this for Katniss. You kept her alive. I think to myself as he bends down. His next words make my stomach drop and the blood drain from my face.
"You'll always be just a piece in my games." His words fill my mind that meant he had heard everything that night on the roof with Katniss, before the first games. He straightens back up and turns to the peacekeeper before speaking. "Finish his hijacking. I don't care what you have to do. Hijack him until he wants Katniss dead, and then we'll hand him over to the rebels."
I'm drug back into the small room I was in before, my blood smearing across the floor as I'm drug by my feet. I try to find a grip on the floor, trying to avoid being hijacked, even though I knew it was no use.
"Tell Katniss I love her!" I shout loud enough for Johanna or Annie or even Enobaria to hear. I'm injected with tracker jacker venom almost instantly and the images start playing again, the venom changing them completely. I'm not sure how long this continues, weeks maybe. I become more, and more confused as my memories are replaced with hallucinations. I try to fight it but in the end it's a losing battle. Every time I reopen my eyes venom is injected back into me, and more images play. The memories start blurring, becoming laced with venom. It's like a veil has been placed over my eyes making it nearly impossible to distinguish the real from the not real. It was a relief to pass out every time I did. The next time I wake up I'm restrained in my chair.
"It was just a nightmare." I whisper in relief.
As I try to move I feel my cuts start bleeding again. So that was real, but why did I get so abused? I search my mind and remember telling the rebels they were going to be bombed, to save Katniss.
"It's her fault." I say furious, my hands clenching into fists, my feet trying to kick against the restraints. My face becomes a mask of pure hatred that reflects the hate I felt towards Katniss. Johanna beaten and drenched looks at me.
"Who's fault?" She coughs as she talks clearly in no condition to be talking.
"Katniss's! She's a mutt!" I yell trying to get free of my restraints, ignoring the pain of my cuts and protest of my muscles.
"She used me! She tried to kill me! She never loved me! She's a stinking mutt!" I continue yelling.
"No, Peeta. Don't believe your memories, they're hallucinations." Johanna argues with me weakly.
"No! She wanted me dead! She never loved me!" My voice rises as I get angrier.
"She loves you brainless, and you love her." Johanna says calmly. It only angers me further. I kick against the restraints some more continuing to yell
"She's a mutt!" My voice and words echo, the walls throwing them back at me. Snow walks in, a peacekeeper behind him and they inject us all with morphling.
"They're here to break them out, don't make it obvious we're letting them get them out. Peeta hijacked will be the best way to break Katniss, he may even kill her himself." I slip under just as I hear these words and a memory emerges in my mind.
A memory of Snow telling me, "If Katniss doesn't stop the rebellion you will become a weapon against her."
Why would I be a weapon against her when she never loved me? Or was what Johanna said true? The next time I wake up I'm in a hospital bed somewhere clearly not the Capitol. I could tell by the dim lighting, the monitors next to my bed, the comfy mattress and pillow beneath me, and the doctors all working over me.
"Peeta, you're in District Thirteen, we're going to help you." I look at the doctors in confusion. District Thirteen? Wasn't that destroyed during the last rebellion? They talk between each other their words running together. The door opens behind them and they move out of the way. Katniss's face brings up first relief and happiness, then suddenly hatred. I jump out of bed; she's running towards me probably expecting a hug so I open my arms.
When Katniss reaches me instead of embracing her, I lock my fingers around her throat. She starts coughing and clawing at my hand trying to get free. Sadness and shock show in her eyes. I feel nothing but hatred as I tighten my fingers around her throat strangling the life out of her the way she had strangled my heart, and tried to kill me too many times. Some guy with shaved dark hair, broad shoulders, dressed in all black, who had walked in with her elbows me in the head knocking me down to the floor. Just as I jump to my feet again a doctor injects me with morphling.
I wake up to people talking about me; the word hijacked bouncing around the walls causing me to be confused. Hijacked? No. I am me. The way I am. As the doctors come to the conclusion that I've been hijacked they spend days upon days trying to "fix me" as they called it. Problem was, I didn't see a problem. They show me video's from the games which always ends in me flipping out or arguing with myself. The videos didn't match my memories. None of it made sense.
"Why hasn't my family come visit me?" I ask after a few days. I idly play with fingers straining against memories ragging in my mind. My mother had been abusive all my life but that hadn't meant I love her any less, and I'd hope she'd want to see me. I know my dad and brothers would, so why hadn't they come?
"Peeta, your family is dead. They were killed in the bombing of twelve." One of the nurses tells me, keeping a distance. Not that it mattered I had restraints around my ankles to keep me in the bed. I still couldn't understand why I was so untrustworthy. It takes a moment for the words to register and fully make sense. My dad. My brothers. My mom. Dead. District Twelve. Gone.
"It's her fault isn't it?" My voice comes out menacing and almost deadly. I usually don't talk to people this way, but everything I've felt has come to surface. The feeling of being worthless. My mom had made sure I felt worthless. Katniss did too. I was willing to give everything for her. Willing to die for her so she can be happy, and she only distanced herself from me, and tried to get me killed.
"Who's fault?" By the edge in the nurses's voice I know she knows exactly who I am talking about.
"Katniss. She's a stinking mutt!" I start yelling my feet thrashing against the restraints trying to break free. Katniss wants me dead. Katniss is the reason I was tortured. She never loved me. I'm worthless. I have nothing.
"No, Peeta. The Capitol bombed your district while you guys were in the arena. Right after Katniss blew up the arena." She says calmly and smoothly.
"No! It's all her fault! They did it because of her!" The emotions build inside me and I break down sobbing.
Days go on, people talk to me. Old friends and people I've never met. My old friend from District 12 Delly visits often. She gets mad every time I call Katniss a mutt, which made no sense. They were never friends. The thing that haunts me the most about the visits was the information that District 12 had been destroyed, and my family hadn't made it out alive. I had nothing left. I felt a heavy emptiness, and aching for my family, for a time when I knew what was real, and what wasn't.
One morning I wake up to the doctor telling me, she wants me to try eating with everyone else. She assures me there'll be a guard, and my hands will be cuffed. I let out a sigh and just nod as the cuffs are locked around my wrists. There wasn't a point in rejecting it. I follow the guard down the long, dim, narrow halls of Thirteen to the dining hall. Once I've got my food he leads me to the table where Katniss, Gale, Delly, Finnick, Annie, Johanna, Posy, Octivia, Flavius, Venia, and Rory all sit. Hesitantly I walk towards the table.
"Is it alright if I sit here?" I ask and suddenly, all their eyes are on me. Katniss chokes on her bread in front of me.
"Sure." Johanna replies, all the others were clearly in too much shock. My guard steps back, standing against the wall to the right of the table. All conversations have suddenly stopped at my appearance and I try to eat my food. My eyes though, keep wondering to Katniss and Gale sitting across from me. For some odd reason I'm irritated, some reason unfathomable to me.
"So, are you two a couple now, or are you still dragging out the whole star-crossed lovers thing?" I ask a little harshly. Katniss raises her eyes meeting mine; I could see longing reflected in her eyes which takes me back.
"Still dragging." Johanna says. Anger flares up in me again and my hands clench into fists. Delly tries to reason with me, but I tune her out glaring daggers at Katniss. Why would she do this? Why does she keep doing this to me? Katniss gets up and leaves, her pet Gale following behind her. I turn to Delly as she continues to try to talk to me.
"Peeta, you're being unfair."
"I'm being unfair? What about her? She used my feelings, to keep herself alive! In the end, she ended up getting my entire family killed, and got me sent to the capitol!" I'm shouting now at Delly.
"Peeta, that's not true. She loves you, and she always has. She's just too stubborn to see it. You should see how she was when she found out you were taken to the Capitol. You should see her now."
Suddenly opposite memories are playing through my mind. I don't realize it until my guard comes to escort me out of the dining hall, but I was arguing with myself out loud. After that I'm not allowed to go to the dining hall anymore. Although, I'm told of Finnick and Annie's wedding and am allowed to make their cake, as long as I'm supervised. Decorating the cake gives me a sense of who I really am, a sense of calmness and home since I've been here, and I feel as if I hadn't lost everything. The feeling disappears just as quickly as it came though.
On the night of Finnick and Annie's wedding, I wake up and ask Haymitch if I can see Katniss. I needed to see her in person, to have her here in person, not in videos, and not with a crowd. Just her and I. Maybe a conversation with her would bring forward memories, not hallucinations, but I could also lose myself and try to kill her again.
"She's at Finnick and Annie's wedding, but I'll see if she'll come." He turns and leaves the room. I'm startled at first. I was surprised to hear that she went; I knew last week she had gone to District two to get them on our side. It worked, but she was shot. I didn't see how she was in any condition to be partying or dancing. The doctor comes in and places restraints on my wrists and ankles, to make sure I wouldn't go mutt on her. Katniss walks in the room hesitantly a few minutes later.
"Haymitch said you wanted to see me." I look over her, and give a slight shrug. She looks almost broken.
"Well get a look at you for starters." We look between each other in silence. "You're not particularly pretty, are you?"
"You've looked better." She counters.
"Is that the way you want to talk to me after all I've been through?"
"We've both been through a lot."
It falls silent again and I consider this, I can't say she's wrong. She wasn't exactly being the nicest person in the world. Though, when has she ever been nice? Based off of everything in my memories, she just used me. Toyed with my feelings, to keep herself alive. I try to think of something to say.
"I'm confused. The video's showing you trying to kill me. You dropped those tracker jacker's on me." She shrugs and crosses her arms across her chest defensively.
"I was trying to kill all of you; you had me stuck in a tree." I nod, I suppose this was fair.
"Then there's a lot of kissing." I say and she nods in return.
"We were allies; I was trying to keep us both alive."
"Ally." I try the word to see how it feels in my mouth.
"Ally. Friend. Enemy. Lover. Fiancé. Mutt. Victor. Neighbor. Tribute. Target. I'll add that to the list of words I use to figure you out."
She turns to leave the room something clearly bothering her. I could tell by the way her eyes didn't meet mine, and the sadness her eyes reflected. Anyone could hide feelings with an expression, but someone's eyes will never lie.
"Katniss, I remember the bread." She freezes her hand on the door knob. Tentatively she drops her hand from the knob and turns to face me.
"What about it?"
"I know that I burnt it on purpose to save you, and took a beating for it."
"They showed you the video." She says softly and doubtfully.
"Is there one? Why didn't they use it against me?"
"I made it the day they rescued you."
"I remember seeing you at school the next day and you looked down, and for some reason picked a dandelion."
"That's pretty much it." She turns to leave again something in her expression looks sad, and I feel like I have to add something, to say something to her to get her to turn around to me again. For some odd reason, I didn't want her to leave.
"I must have loved you a lot." The bitterness is clear in my tone.
"You did," is all she says.
"And did you love me?" I ask arching an eyebrow in curiosity.
"Everyone says I did." I scuff rolling my eyes.
"You're a piece of work aren't you?" As I say this she turns and dashes out of the room. Her expression looked as if she was going to cry, her eyes watery, and her bottom lip jutting out signifying she was close to crying, which was ridiculous. I wasn't interested in stopping her this time.
More weeks go by and I make a little progress according to the doctors. I've been able to control myself when it comes to Katniss. I still couldn't figure her out though. Although, I had started writing letters to her almost daily. Before I fall asleep I grab a pen and a piece of paper from the desk and start writing.
I see the videos, but they don't go with the memories. From the looks of it I really had loved you, but did you love me? Everyone keeps telling me you did, and you still do. Katniss, why won't you come see me? I want to here it from you. Do you really need me like everyone says you do? Like you said during the Quell? It's all so hard to believe, because my memories say otherwise. Katniss please, just come talk to me.
And I write more.
I heard you're training for the rebellion. Why? You could get killed. I said I wanted to train too but they won't let me. Not until I'm a little bit more in control. I don't want to kill you anymore, so I guess that's a step forward. I still want to see you though. I can't explain why though. It's a strange want for me. Not something I'm use to. Will you please come see me? I want to see that you're okay, although I'm not sure why I care when a few weeks ago I was ready to kill you.
My nurse tells me the letters are good for me. They help me get my feelings out, even if they weren't being sent to Katniss. I was going to make sure she saw them one day. If we lived through the rebellions. I'm updated every now and then on the status of the rebellion. They even have me go train every now and then to shoot a couple propos. I suppose they wanted Snow to see whatever he tried to do to me didn't work. They suggest I do a couple shoots with Katniss, but when I start arguing with myself, they push aside the idea.
One day Haymitch comes in and tells me Katniss, Finnick, Gale, and some people I don't know such as Boggs (who apparently was the guy who knocked me off of Katniss the day I tried to kill her), Leeg 1, and Leeg2, have gone to the Capitol I feel something odd inside. Was it really a worry for Katniss? That was ridiculous. That night I grab a pen and a piece of paper. It had been a few days since my last letter and I feel like I have to write.
Haymitch tells me you're in the Capitol. Why did you leave me? Why didn't you say goodbye? Do you really care that little? I don't believe you don't care. Not anymore. I need you here though. You left me when I need you the most. I just want to be okay again. I want to be myself, Katniss. They keep telling me I'm not, but I think I need your help for that. Katniss, please come back to me soon.
The next day I'm laying in my hospital bed fiddling with my hands when Prim, Katniss's little sister walks in.
"Peeta can I talk to you?" I nod and wave her over. She has something in her hands and I look at her curiously. The way she walked, and the way her blonde hair was braided into two braids reminds me a lot of Katniss when she was younger. She sits herself on the edge of my bed and pulls my hand towards her. Whatever was in her hand she places in mine closing my fingers around it. It's cool against my warm fingers. I pull my hand away and find the golden locket with a mockingjay on it that I had given Katniss on the beach during the Quell in my hand. The locket with Prim, Katniss's mother, and Gale's pictures in it, which had been my last attempt to convince her she needed to be the one to live.
"Peeta, she doesn't need my mother, she doesn't need Gale, and she doesn't even need me. She needs you. She left this behind and took the pearl you have her to the Capitol." She jumps off the bed and walks out of my room. I stare after her in shock, was she telling me the truth? Something told me she was. Something told me, Prim wasn't a liar, and Prim of all people would know Katniss better then Katniss knew herself. A few minutes after Prim leaves Coin walks in.
"Peeta, I want you to go join them in the Capitol." I look at her in shock; she wanted me to join them? Wasn't I supposed to be a mutt in everyone's eyes? I'm unable to sleep that night. Prim's words running through my mind. "She needs you." So I grab my pen and a piece of paper.
How is it in the Capitol? Are you okay? Coin is sending me to join you guys. Your sister visited me today. She reminds me a lot of you when you were younger, except she's more social and a lot nicer. She gave me back the locket I gave you. She told me you don't need your mom, you don't need Gale, and you don't need her. She said you need me. Is this true? I need to know. I need you to tell me. I'll see you soon. I hate to admit it, but I miss you.
The words weave themselves into my dreams, "She needs you." My dreams don't consist of nightmares as they usually do; instead they consist of days in the cave, days on the train, and the day on the beach. When I wake up I feel almost confused, because for some reason the dreams have made me happy.
I grab the locket and stick it in my pocket once I'm dressed, for some odd reason I felt the need to take it with me. After yesterday, it almost seemed like a symbol meaning Katniss's love was real. I also grab my pen and a few pieces of paper so I can write letters in the Capitol. They were great therapy. I say goodbye to Delly, Annie, Prim, and even Beetee who had been one of my allies in the games. My goodbye with Annie is the most haunting though. She tells me she's pregnant, but not to tell Finnick. Not until he comes back. I feel a pang on sympathy for her, because there is a chance Finnick wouldn't come back.
When I arrive in the Capitol everyone looks at me in surprise, and anger. Boggs is almost furious. Everyone except Coin doesn't seem to trust me. I stand by confused, unwanted, useless, and almost lonely as Boggs furiously chatters to Coin over the phone. It didn't seem one person wanted me here. Not even Katniss. He snaps his phone shut and rubs his temples. I manage to catch part of his conversation with Katniss.
"I think Coin had him sent here in hopes he would kill you." I look at Katniss's face measuring her reaction. She looks unsurprised.
"I knew she didn't like me."
"Look, if he tries to kill you" He hesitates. "I'll have to kill him." Katniss's face drops, dread leaking into her expression. She wraps her arms around her torso. I could feel fear creeping up on me.
"No need for that." She snaps and with that the conversation ends.
They decide to set up shifts to keep watch on me. They may not have trusted me, but they decided they were going to help me. That afternoon we play a game called real or not real, that Leeg 1 and Leeg 2 came up with. I ask them something I think is real and they tell me if it's real or not. Finnick is the best to answer questions on something about the games. Gale answers questions about home. Katniss keeps quiet most the time, sitting back with a pained expression.
If it's not real, they explain what really happened. Most my questions surround around Katniss since she is the fuzziest in my memory. Usually the memories I say that they answer not real to, have something of a shiny quality about them. When it's Katniss's turn to watch me we sit on opposite sides of the fire from each other. We stay silent for most of her shift. The energy between us awkward, just as it has been since I tried to kill her. It remains silent until I think of something and want to know if it's real.
"Your favorite color, it's green?" I ask. She nods slowly and pauses before answering.
"And yours is orange." I arch an eyebrow not exactly believing her.
"Not bright orange, but soft like sunset. At least that's what you told me once."
I close my eyes picturing a sunset and smile slightly.
"Thank you." I say, though that's not where she stops. She adds more.
"You're a baker, you're a painter, you always double knot your shoe laces, you sleep with the windows open, and you never take sugar in your tea." As soon as she's done talking she gets up diving into her tent. I watch her in surprise. Once the tent flaps swing closed I stare at her tent in silence and decide to make my own list for her.
Katniss Everdeen. She's a hunter, she's known as the girl on fire, she's the mockingjay, she likes cheese buns, she's amazing at archery, she's the bravest person I met, I use to love her, and maybe just maybe I still do. I sit there all night continuing my list for her. I start to think, that maybe she isn't the person from my memories, she's the person I know I once loved. A smile creeps onto my lips for the first time, in a long time. The feeling is entirely unwelcome, but I know somewhere deep down, I still love her.
You've hardly talked to me since I got here. Do you not want me here? The conversation we had keeps playing in my mind. I made a list for you, like you had for me. I still can't figure out if you love me, but I've figured something out about myself. Regardless of the fact I dislike the feeling, I know I still love you. I shouldn't because of how badly you've treated me, but I do. Please come back to me.