Part I.


"This is pathetic," Katniss Everdeen grumbled to herself as she typed the URL into her computer. Her credit card was placed on her thigh as she scrolled through the images on the page.

"What's pathetic?" asked her roommate, Johanna Mason, as she strutted through the living room. She wore a skintight red dress and black pumps that matched her slicked back hair.

"That I'm twenty-one and sitting home on a Saturday night ordering Papa John's pizza," Katniss admitted sheepishly. Johanna barked out a laugh.

"Yeah, brainless, that is pretty pathetic. But I'm not even going to bother asking you to accompany me tonight."

Katniss rolled her eyes. "Like I'd want to join you on your bar crawl anyways. I'd rather stay here and mope."

"Good thing you will be!" Johanna sung as she walked to the door. Katniss flipped her the bird, and with a cackle, she was gone.

Katniss turned back to the website. She added an order of garlic breadsticks and customized a large, thick crust bacon pizza before checking out. As she filled out her address and billing information, a small box caught her eye.

Special Delivery Instructions

Katniss smirked. If she was going to wallow in self pity alone, she might as well have some fun with it. Her fingers danced over the keyboard as she typed. Don't make fun of me for being home alone on a Saturday night.

After a second of hesitation, she added one more line. Also, don't hesitate to tell me how gorgeous I am.

Before she lost her nerve, Katniss pressed enter. A few seconds later her iPhone beeped with the confirmation email.

"Awesome," she said as she relaxed back on the couch. "And now I will spend some quality time with a certain Mr. Tatum."

She scrolled down the movie listings until she found Magic Mike, ordered it, and then propped her feet up to enjoy the show.

Knock knock knock.

Katniss sat upright with a shock. Crap, she thought. I must have fallen asleep. She looked at the clock. Only thirty minutes had passed.

"Wow, I'm turning into Grandpa Haymitch," she groaned, referencing her drunken maternal grandfather. She hurled herself to her feet, grabbed a few singles from her wallet and walked to the door.

A pair of sparkling blue eyes met hers.

"Katniss?" the man asked. "Katniss Everdeen?"

Katniss took a step back, squinting at the stranger. After a few moments of scrutiny, she gasped, recognizing the tousled blonde hair hidden under a black and red uniform cap, broad but muscled stature, and magnificently strong jawline.

"Peeta!" she exclaimed.

Peeta Mellark smiled wide and raised the boxes in his hands. "It's great to see you! I, uh, I have your pizza."

Katniss smiled and accepted the boxes. "Thanks, Peeta. Um, how are you?" she asked as she struggled to manuver the boxes inside. Peeta moved forward.

"Would you like some help?" he asked. Without waiting for an answer he took an edge of the lower box in his hand and helped her through the house. When they got the pizza to the table, Peeta looked at her nervously.

"Um, sorry for kind of letting myself in," Peeta laughed. "I should probably just go-"

"No, it's fine," Katniss found herself saying. "Um, here." She awkwardly handed him his tip and he pocketed it with an equally uncomfortable smile.

Peeta started to walk back to the door, when Katniss grabbed his elbow. He stilled, and suddenly the air was thick around them. Slowly, Katniss walked around to face him. She put a hand on his cheek and he leaned into it, breathing a sigh of relief. Suddenly, she was sixteen again.

It was the night of junior prom. It was also the five-year anniversary of her father's death. Although her mother had somewhat snapped out of her depressed stupor a few years ago, she managed to slip back into it in the days and weeks prior to and following the day her dad was killed in a hit-and-run accident on his way home from work.

She hadn't been asked to the dance, but that was too be expected. She didn't have any friends, really. The principal's daughter, Madge Undersee, was nice to her and sometimes sat with her at lunch, but that was it. It didn't bother Katniss. Ever since her dad died she was used to being alone.

Her sister, Primrose, was at home trying to get their mother to snap out of her funk. Katniss, feeling suffocated, left to take a walk. She had walked three blocks from her house and made a left turn onto Merchant Street when she caught a whiff of something delicious.

She looked up and her lips twitched into a knowing smile when she saw the Mellark's house. It was no secret that Peeta, the youngest of the three Mellark boys, had quite the penchant for whipping up the most delicious treats. His brothers, Trelan and Jakob, had both graduated and were currently studying at Cornell with full scholarships for wrestling. Peeta was just as good as his brothers, coming in second place in the school competition (and only because his opponent was Jakob) last year. However, it was seemed that he would most likely go to culinary school rather than follow in his brothers' footsteps.

Katniss stopped in front of his house and inhaled deeply. She couldn't find a taste to match the heavenly smell, but she knew that it must taste divine. A single light shown through a window and Katniss peered in. She was able to make out the form of Peeta, fiddling about in the kitchen. He looked up suddenly, catching her eye.

Katniss blushed, knowing she was caught. She quickly turned and started hurriedly walking back down the road. She had only made it a few paces before she heard her name being called.

"Katniss!"

She stopped, debated turning around, and then continued.

"Katniss! Hey, wait up!"

A hand encircled her elbow and she immediately flinched back. Peeta Mellark took a step away, his hands raised in surrender. Or, hand, rather. The other hands was gripping a plate of what looked to be small rolls oozing cheese.

"I saw you outside, and I thought you might like some." Peeta extended the plate to her with a quirky smile. Katniss's heart thudded in her chest. "They're cheese buns."

Katniss looked at the plate, then looked at Peeta. Her stomach grumbled, and Peeta let out a chuckle.

"Please, have one." He pushed the plate closer to her. Katniss slowly lifted one off the plate a gingerly took a bite.

The taste was magnificent. She had to suppress a groan as she took another, larger bite.

"Are they any good? I'm trying out a new recipe." Peeta shuffled his feet nervously. Katniss swallowed and offered him a timid smile.

"They're delicious," she murmured.

"They are?" Peeta grinned. "I'm glad to hear it. Here, take the rest." He offered her the plate, but she backed away, shaking her head.

"No, thank you. You don't need to-"

"Katniss."

Peeta's tone was serious. Katniss looked at him, wide-eyed.

"Please, Katniss. Take them."

Sheepishly, Katniss accepted the plate of cheese buns. They stood there in an awkward silence before Peeta opened his mouth again.

"So, you decided to ditch the junior prom, too?"

Katniss scowled. "No one asked me."

When Peeta's face fell, she immediately tried to amend her statement. "Not that I would have went anyway. That's not really my scene."

Now Peeta was frowning. "Are you serious? No one asked you?"

Katniss let out a forced, humorless laugh. "Why is that so hard to believe? It's not like I have any friends."

"But you're so beau-" Peeta stopped, and cleared his throat. "I mean, I guess, uh-"

"It's okay," Katniss said softly. "Don't worry about it. Thanks for the cheese buns."

Katniss turned to walk away, when Peeta grabbed her arm again. She opened her mouth, ready to protest, when suddenly he was spinning her around and pressing his mouth against hers.

Katniss squeaked in surprise and the plate of cheese buns clattered to the floor. She started to pull away, and then stopped. She had never kissed a boy before, but she couldn't believe that any of their lips could be as soft as Peeta's. She let herself relax and she felt his hands come up to cup the sides of her face.

"Katniss," Peeta breathed when they pulled apart. He rested his forehead on hers.

"What was that for?" Katniss eked out. Peeta released a shuddering sigh.

"I'm sorry, Katniss- Actually, no. I'm not sorry." Peeta chuckled. "I'm not sorry at all. I am actually very happy that I kissed you."

"Why?" Katniss squeaked. "Why did you kiss me?"

Peeta looked her dead in the eye. "Because I was too much of a chicken to ask you to the dance and it's not fair that someone as...absolutely beautiful as you gets to miss out on a rite of passage, no matter how stupid it may be. I guess I figured that since it was too late to ask you I might as well give you something that you'll hopefully remember and I really want to do it again," Peeta let out in one long breath. "If you'll allow it."

Katniss smiled. "I'll allow it."

She didn't see Peeta again all weekend. She left after he kissed her again, slightly giddy but very confused. He had asked to meet her at a cafe in town the next day, but after waiting there for almost an hour alone she left, angry and embarrassed and feeling played.

On Monday, Katniss walked into class and found a dandelion sitting on her desk, and below it, a folded up note. It was scrawled in messy, boyish handwriting. Peeta. He said that Friday was absolutely wonderful, but on Saturday his father fell ill and they were taking him out of state for treatment. He stopped at school to pick up work for the week and although he was sad that he had to leave before she arrived, he was glad that he could leave her this note.

Katniss was mollified for a bit, until she was walking home from school the next week and over heard one of Peeta's friends, Delly Cartwright, sobbing to her friend Clove about how Peeta's mother decided that she didn't want to come back to their small town in Panem, Georgia. She decided to stay in Maryland, where her husband was being treated.

Katniss felt her heart sink. Then she berated herself. She barely even knew Peeta. It didn't matter that he was leaving. Katniss saw what happened to her mother once her father died. It was a mistake to care about people. When they left, it only destroyed you.

Katniss relished in the feeling of Peeta's skin under her hand. He had a faint trace of stubble and it tickled her palm. His eyes fluttered open and she retracted her hand with a jolt.

"I'm sorry," she stuttered. "That was inappropriate."

"Yes, it was," Peeta agreed. "But that didn't mean I didn't enjoy it."

Katniss was stunned. She awkwardly tucked a piece of stray hair behind her ear. Her palm was still tingling from the touch of his skin.

"Oh!" Peeta exclaimed. He dug into the pocket of his jeans before pulling out a crumpled piece of paper. He waggled his eyebrows at her as he unfolded it. "Delivery instructions," he told her.

"Oh, God," Katniss groaned. She had forgotten about them. "Don't read those-"

"Already did, on the way here," Peeta said with a smirk. "I found them quite interesting." He cleared his throat and made a dramatic show of reading from the paper. Katniss blushed furiously and covered her face with her hands.

" Don't make fun of me for being home alone on a Saturday night."

Katniss released an embarrassed chuckle. "I was just trying to be funny. You can make fun of me if you want."

Peeta raised an eyebrow. "Why would I do that?" He leaned closer, conspiringly. "I'll let you in on a secret: I haven't done anything on the weekends but work in the last six months."

Katniss giggled. "Well, at least you're making a bit of money. I'm just not interested in getting drunk off my ass. And I teach a class on Sundays."

"You're a teacher?" Peeta queried, surprised. Katniss shook her head.

"Not academically. I teach archery to kids at the rec center in town."

Peeta smiled widely. "That's neat! Where do you go to school?"

"NYU," Katniss answered proudly. When she saw Peeta's confused expression, she elaborated. "I commute."

"Oh, of course." Peeta smiled sheepishly. Connecticut was a stone's throw away from New York. It only made sense that she would take the train or something.

"What about yourself?" she asked.

"The Culinary Institute in Hartford," Peeta told her proudly.

"You still bake?" Katniss was surprised. Peeta nodded, excitedly. "That's so great, Peeta!" Her tone turned teasing. "Did you bake the pizza, too?"

Peeta laughed. "No, thank God. That stuff isn't even pizza."

"Hey, be careful!" Katniss warned. "They probably have a microphone in your hat. You don't want to get fired."

Peeta whipped off his hat and held the bill close to his mouth. "Can you hear me, Papa John's?" he faux-yelled. "Fire me! I beg of you! I can't stand this job, it's torture!"

His eyes met Katniss's.

"Or rather, it was."

Katniss found herself getting lost in his eyes. She felt the unfamiliar feeling of her heart fluttering against her chest, a feeling she hadn't felt in about five years.

"Do you remember?" she asked him softly. "Do you remember the last time we saw each other?"

"Of course," Peeta answered hurriedly. "I think about it all the time. It was the best night of my life."

Katniss scoffed and turned away. "Oh, I'm sure. "

"I do!" Peeta insisted. He turned her around to face her, and tipped up her chin. "There was one more instruction," he murmured, his voice dangerously low.

"And what was that?" Katniss asked, breathlessly.

"I want to let you know how amazingly, stunningly, magnificently gorgeous you are." Peeta barely was able to get out the last syllable before Katniss's hands grabbed his neck and forced his lips down onto hers.

His lips were just as soft as she remembered. His large, strong hands gripped her waist tightly and pulled her flush against him. His lips attacked hers hungrily and she let out a moan when he nipped at her lower lip.

His lips left hers and began kissing and sucking down her neck. Her fingers braided into his hair and she cried out when he found that spot behind her ear.

"Oh, Peeta!"

With a groan Peeta reattached their lips, this time thrusting his tongue into her mouth. Katniss felt a tingling all over her body, but for the first time felt it in a place that made her thighs clench together.

Peeta pulled himself away and Katniss pouted.

"Katniss, I need you to know something," he said to her, cupping her face with his hands. "My mother...is a bitch."

Katniss frowned. He wanted to talk about mommy issues?

"She never made it a secret that she wasn't fond of...well, people who weren't that well-off. I guess she must have saw us that night, and she got into a huge fight with my dad while I was outside with you, my guess is that he was trying to put her in her place. Anyway, he ended up having a heart attack and when we went to Maryland she decided that we were staying and she wouldn't let me go back."

Peeta let out a long breath. "She went back to Panem by herself to collect our things. I wanted so badly to go with her, to see you again and at least set things straight, but she refused and I had no way of contacting you. I didn't even know your address. So I guess I just kind of gave up and figured that you would be better off with your other friend."

Other friend? Katniss's eyebrows furrowed. What other friend-Oh.

"Do you mean Gale?" she asked incredulously. "Gale Hawthorne?"

"Yeah," Peeta mumbled. "I thought you guys had a thing."

Katniss guffawed and pulled Peeta in for another kiss. When she pulled back, he was wearing a doofy smile. "Peeta, Gale was the son of one of my mother's friends. We hung out occasionally because our mothers did. That's it. Peeta, he's-he's gay."

Peeta's face went slack. "Oh." Then, he smiled again. "Oh!"

"Yes, oh," Katniss teased. "And I don't care about what happened with your mother. What's in the past is in the past, and I plan to make the most of the present."

Peeta inched closer. "Oh? And how do you plan on doing that?" he murmured.

Katniss mustered up every ounce of sexiness she had in her- and it wasn't much- and grabbed his hand. She tugged him into her bedroom, trying to sway her hips and not look like an idiot.

"Why don't you come find out?"

Katniss closed and locked her bedroom door behind them. Peeta stood as still as a statue and watched as swayed up to him and toyed with the hem of his tee shirt.

"Do you want this?" she asked him quietly.

"More than anything," he gulped.

Katniss took his hands and gently placed them on her breasts. He squeezed slightly, and her eyes rolled back in her head. Peeta moaned, and deftly rid her off her shirt so she was left in just her bra.

She was a virgin, but she wasn't telling Peeta that. He oozed confidence and sensuality in a way that wasn't overwhelming but that made her trust what he was doing as he kneeled and kissed down her torso.

His hands roamed up and down her legs before cupping her backside. She squeaked and he let out a throaty chuckle. He stood up and pulled him flush against her again, but this time she could feel that he was definitely not a teenage boy anymore.

Confidence, Katniss, confidence. It was a mantra that Johanna had repeated to her many, many times when she was able to drag her out on her escapades. You can't be sexy unless you're confident.

Katniss took a deep breath before reaching down and yanking Peeta's tee shirt over his head. Her fingers trembled with excitement as they ran over his smooth, muslced chest. Peeta stifled a groan when she brushed over his nipples, and she giggled.

"Are you laughing at me?" he teased.

Katniss shook her head with a smile. "Never."

Peeta kissed her again, hard, and his nimble fingers moved around to unclasp her bra. It fell to the floor at their feet, and Katniss reflexively crossed her arms in front of herself.

"No," Peeta growled. He pushed her arms away. "You're gorgeous, remember? Please, don't cover yourself."

All Katniss could do was nod because the minute he stopped talking he knelt down again and pressed a kiss to her left breast.

"Oh!" Katniss exclaimed. He toyed with her chest for a few minutes until Katniss was clenching her thighs so tightly that they were almost quivering.

Katniss gently removed his face from her chest and led Peeta over to the bed. Tenderly, so tenderly that Katniss felt tears well up in her eyes, Peeta took her into his arms and laid her across the bed.

"Are you sure about this?" Peeta asked. "Have you ever-"

Katniss shook her head. "You're my first."

Peeta's eyes widen, and he opened his mouth to protest but Katniss silenced him with a kiss. "Please," she whispered. "Make love to me."

Peeta nodded. "Okay."

With that he popped open the button on her jeans and she lifted her hips to help him get them off. His pants soon followed, then his underwear, and then hers. Katniss was slightly petrified at the sight of him. She had never seen a penis before- the word alone made her cringe with the clinical connotations. But even though she was frightened, the sight of him was glorious. He was beautiful. She reached out a tentative hand to touch him and was shocked- he was rock hard, yet soft to the touch, like velvet stretched over steel.

"Oh, shit, Katniss," Peeta gasped when she touched him. "You have no idea of the effect you can have, can you?"

Katniss shook her head, and Peeta laughed. He removed her hand and settled himself between her legs. "Don't worry about touching me. Let me take care of you."

Katniss frowned. "What are you doing-OH MY GOD!" She arched off the bed when his mouth came in contact with her heated flesh. "Peeta, ohhhh, Peeta-Pe-" She could no longer form coherent sentences as Peeta busied himself with pleasuring her. She had never felt so good in her entire life.

And then she tensed, and she gripped Peeta's hair so tightly as she shuddered and cried out with release that she was scared that she would rip some of it off of his head.

When she relaxed, Peeta moved above her and it was obvious that he could not keep the ear-splitting grin he was sporting off his face.

"That was magnificent," she breathed.

"I'm glad," Peeta murmured. He kissed up her neck and then her lips.

"Please make love to me now," Katniss pleaded.

"I'd be happy to."

Peeta rolled off her for a moment to grab a condom from his wallet. She blushed as she watched him roll it on, and then was above her again. Katniss gripped his shoulders tightly as he moved into her. She gasped and tears pricked at her eyes but she forced them back. He stilled, and she took a few deep breaths before nodding at him.

Peeta kissed her tenderly as he started to move again. It felt foreign at first, but not unpleasant as he thrust into her. After a few moments she began to moan into his mouth, in turn causing him to speed up his thrusts.

Soon enough Katniss began to writhe beneath him, feeling once again that glorious sensation blooming in her midsection.

"Oh, Peeta! Peeta! Peeta!"

Katniss cried out in ecstasy, and Peeta was soon to follow, tensing and groaning loudly as he met his own release.

Peeta was careful not to put all of his weight onto her, balancing on his elbows as he looked down at Katniss's sated form.

"Thank you, Katniss," he said, leaning down to kiss her. She let him languidly kiss her for a while, enjoying the feeling, before she pushed him back.

"Thank you for what?"

"Thank you for trusting me and letting me give you this." Katniss smiled.

"I can't imagine it being anyone else."

The pair awoke to the slamming of the front door.

"Katniss!" Johanna screeched. "Some idiot delivery boy left his car outside our house. It must have been running all night, too, because it looks like that battery's dead!"

Katniss sat up, mortified, and Peeta propped himself up on his elbows. The couple looked at each other for a while before bursting out into fits of laughter.

"Was last night real?" Peeta asked her.

"Very real," Katniss affirmed. Peeta let loose a toothy grin and relaxed back onto the pillows. They ignored Johanna's ramblings and complaints about a hangover as the cuddled back under the sheets.

"This is going to be really awkward if you say no after last night," Peeta started, "So please, Katniss Everdeen, will you be my girlfriend?"

Katniss smiled against Peeta's chest. "I would love to."

Peeta let out a relieved laugh. "Oh, thank God."

"Do you really think that I would say no?" Katniss jibed. Peeta shrugged, blushing a bit.

"Oh crap," he said suddenly.

"What?" Katniss asked nervously.

"I was here all night...I'm probably going to be fired." Peeta's face dropped for a second before breaking out into raucous laughter.

"I hope it was worth it," Katniss told him. He pulled her close.

"Of course it was!"

"Good," Katniss said mischeiviously. "Then, since you most likely don't have a job anymore and I don't have to be at the rec center until eleven-" she glanced at the clock, "-that means that we have three whole hours to ourselves."

"And how do you plan on spending that time, Miss Everdeen?"

Katniss smirked. "Why don't you come find out?"


Please, let me hear your thoughts! I'm on tumblr as "ohalaskayoung".

xoxo