a/n: This chapter was a little delayed, so my apologies! It's longer than the others so far, at least. Hopefully, the wait was worth it :) Thank you for reading and reviewing!

Peeta was gone. He was just gone. After Katniss had gathered her bearings and slipped out of the closet, she couldn't find him anywhere. She tried calling him, but he wouldn't answer his phone. When she asked the others if they'd seen him, they seemed equally mystified by his disappearance. She checked outside for his car to be sure; it was also gone.

At first, she was horrified that she'd run him off. But the longer she stayed at the party—the longer she didn't hear from him, the longer she had to think about everything—the more her horror turned to anger. She was incensed.

He was their fucking DD, and he just left them, knowing everyone else had been drinking. Luckily, Annie didn't mind taking her, Johanna and Madge home as she was driving Finnick, anyway. Still, it was the principle of the matter.

At the end of the night, Katniss slid into the backseat with Madge and Johanna, staring sullenly out the window. The others chattered aimlessly about the party, but she couldn't contribute anything; she was hopelessly fixated on Peeta. What the hell was going through his mind right now? He never just abandoned her. That wasn't like him.

Suddenly, icy fear solidified in her stomach. What if something had happened to him? He hadn't been drinking, but he'd had a hit of that pot. It wasn't likely it affected him much—her own buzz had worn off not long after he'd run off—but what if he'd been in an accident or something?

Now she was being irrationally paranoid. Why wouldn't he just answer his fucking phone?

She pulled out her phone and shot him a quick, desperate text: Please at least just tell me you got home safe so I can stop worrying.

She set her phone in her lap and waited for his response, growing increasingly agitated with each passing minute.

"Are you okay, Katniss?" Madge asked suddenly, startling her. Katniss shot her a glance and waved her off.

"Yeah, fine," she mumbled, but Madge leaned closer. Her eyes were glassy, a sure sign she was drunk.

"Are you mad at me about Gale?" she asked, her voice imploring. "I didn't mean—I wasn't trying to flirt with him; he just started talking to me and...I'm sorry, he's just so cute! And you didn't really seem into him...Are you mad? I'm sorry!"

Katniss blinked at her friend, flabbergasted. "What? No. I don't care about Gale," she dismissed. "I mean, he's cool, whatever. If you wanna date him, have at it. Go get him, Tiger, or whatever. I don't care."

Madge looked relieved but apprehensive still, and Katniss checked her phone again even though she knew Peeta hadn't texted her. Johanna snorted from Madge's other side.

"No, with the way Katniss here was sucking face with Peeta earlier, I don't think she cares about Gale at all."

Oh, fuck.

Everybody in the car gasped, and Annie hit her brakes reflexively before she stepped on the gas again, her eyes finding Katniss' in the rearview mirror. Finnick twisted in the passenger seat to gawk at her. "Hold the fuck up—you made out with Peeta?!"

Katniss forgot how to breathe as she mentally began plotting Johanna's murder. "No!" she finally screeched. "We did not—we weren't sucking face! I just shotgunned the weed for him, that's all!" She blushed furiously, hoping against hope Johanna didn't know about their closet activities.

Johanna just cackled. "Right, and you needed your mouth to do that?" she teased, and Katniss glared at her, her nostrils flaring.

"He's never smoked a joint before, so I was just helping him out," she said defensively, her heart pounding.

"Mmhmm," Johanna said smugly.

Finnick laughed, clapping his hands together. "Well, that explains why he ran off then. He had to get home so he could beat off. I'm sure he had a raging hard-on to take care of after that."

Annie hushed him in admonishment, and Katniss wanted to melt into her seat in mortification. "No, that's not it," she stressed pleadingly. He hadn't run home to jack off; she'd done it for him, after all.

Madge looked at her in concern, but there was a fleeting smile pulling at her mouth. "Are you sure you're okay?" she asked. Katniss couldn't take it anymore.

"Yes, I'm fine!" she snapped. "Everyone just shut the fuck up. I have a huge fucking headache, and I just want to go home and go to sleep."

The others chortled in amusement but abided her wish. Her phone finally pinged, and she snatched it up, her heart constricting. Peeta.

I'm home.

She sighed in frustration but put her phone away. At least, she could stop worrying. But she was still fucking pissed.

Who did he think he was? Running away was her thing.

Katniss didn't bother trying to call or text Peeta the next day. She just went directly over to his house. She entered through the front door silently, glad Mr. Mellark was at the bakery. Peeta's car was in the driveway, so she was certain he was there. He wasn't in the living room or kitchen, so she headed upstairs. She didn't attempt any stealth this time, throwing his door open angrily. He was sitting at his computer, and he jumped about a foot in his chair when his doorknob hit the wall, spinning around to face her. If she wasn't so pissed, his face might have been comical.

"Katniss—" he gasped, but she cut him off.

"Who the fuck do you think you are?!" she yelled, and his mouth dropped. "You can't just do what you did last night, Peeta!"

His face twisted in regret. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have—I shouldn't have touched you like that..."

She blinked in disbelief, her face flushing. "I'm not—I'm not talking about that! I'm talking about you running off and leaving us—me—stranded at a party!"

He inhaled sharply, running a hand through his hair. "Fuck. I know. I wasn't thinking. I forgot—I'm so sorry. I just...I panicked," he said apologetically, averting his gaze. She swallowed thickly and shuffled undecidedly before she moved to shut the door behind her. Then she moved a step closer and took a deep breath.

She'd had all night to think about this, to reason it out, rationalize it in her mind. She'd finally transcribed a script in her head of what to tell him, how to address the things they'd done. Licking her lips, she started, rather bluntly, "Look. So...you fingered me, and I jacked you off. Whatever. No big deal." His eyes widened at her words, his cheeks filling with color; she swallowed again, trying to retain her composure even though her limbs were shaking. "Shit like that ha—happens," she stuttered and blushed, cursing herself for the slip. "I mean...friends experiment, right? I'm sure this isn't—I'm sure we're not the first to...whatever, teenagers do dumb shit all the time. Just—just chalk it up to being young and horny, right?"

Peeta still wasn't looking at her as he took in her words, but he slowly dropped his head into his hands. He finally heaved a sigh. "Katniss..." he began, his words muffled, but he stopped there.

She didn't want to know what he was going to say, really; it was clear he regretted the things they'd done. She'd fucked up, yet again. She let Gale and all her other friends get into her head and convince her she was attracted to her best friend—and maybe she was, maybe it was there, but he didn't feel the same; she couldn't lose his friendship. She couldn't be the reason he left her because he couldn't return whatever feelings she had for him. She could pretend; she could act like nothing had changed.

Fake it till you make it, damn it. Eventually, the attraction, the desire for him would fade over time, right?

"We're going to be fine, Peeta," she asserted with false bravado. Then she faltered. "I'm...sorry I made you uncomfortable, I just...I didn't mean—well, I don't know what got into me last night, I guess. So. I'm sorry. Can we just...be fine again?"

He finally lifted his head; she tried not to wilt under his gaze, holding her head high. He sat up straight in his chair as he regarded her. He looked confused. "Why'd you do it?"


He pursed his lips together before repeating himself. "Why did you do it, then? The thing in the living room and then...in the closet. I mean...I can't work it out. Did you want to do it? Did you want me to do—that to you?" he asked honestly, and her hand immediately began fidgeting with her braid out of nervous habit.

What could she say? "I don't...I don't do things I don't want to do, Peeta," she said carefully, her eyes darting around evasively, desperate for anything to look at that wasn't his face. Her gaze settled on an old photo of them together on his bookshelf, smiling and happy and oblivious. Fuck, that was worse.

"Were you drunk? Was it the weed?" he pressed, and she made a face.

"No. It wasn't—it wasn't that. I just...I had an urge, I don't know," she said miserably, her heart hammering in her chest. Why did he have to force the issue? This was humiliating.

"An urge...for me?" he asked delicately. She took a deep breath and forced a nod. He inhaled loudly and licked his lips. It took him a moment to continue. "Are you attracted to me?"

She covered her face, pinching the bridge of her nose. Great, here it was. She couldn't lie to him now. "Yes," she whimpered finally, unable to look at him yet. She heard his breath hitch.

"Okay," he finally breathed out, but he fell quiet after that. She dropped her hand to look at him and wanted to curl up in shame; he had a bizarre expression on his face. She groaned loudly.

"Peeta, don't do this—don't be weird about this, please," she practically begged, drawing his astonished stare, but she rushed on. "I'm sure it's just some weird, delayed crush thing, I don't know—don't all friends of the opposite sex go through something like this at some point? I'm sure it'll pass, and then we can laugh about it—"

"Katniss," he interrupted, almost sternly; the hardness of his voice pulled her up short. He stared at her until his face softened, his throat constricting with his hard swallow. "I'm attracted to you, too."

Her eyes widened; she was pretty sure her heart stopped beating right then. "What?" she repeated, her voice louder than she'd anticipated, and she cringed.

Peeta looked away, scratching his nose. "I thought...fuck, I don't know. I just thought I was being clingy and possessive with you about Gale, like I just didn't want to share you as your friend. But then it was like I couldn't fucking stand the thought of him touching you or kissing you—like, it was this intense, irrational jealousy thing, and I realized...nobody should touch you like that but me. Which is absurd because I didn't even know I wanted you like that."

Katniss was speechless as she stared at him, her arms hanging limply by her sides. Her blood was rushing in her ears. "Does that mean...you do want me like that?" she repeated for clarification. His ears reddened, his hand tightening on the back of his chair, but he nodded. "How...for how long?"

He exhaled through his teeth, nearly laughing. "I don't know. Longer than I realized. I..." He glanced at her and flushed, clearing his throat. "I, you know...I think about you when I, ah—when I masturbate. But I mean, I've thought about Madge and Johanna, too. So I didn't think much of it. Hell, even Annie—don't tell Finn that—but you just...I pictured you the most. I just, I thought that was normal, though. I'm the closest to you, so it makes sense I'd think about you the most, right? But...it's constant now."

She couldn't quite believe what she was hearing. Her heart was racing now, and she felt lightheaded. "What do you think about?"

He frowned. "Huh?"

She subconsciously moved closer, and he blinked. "When you—when you touch yourself. About me. What do you think about?" she asked breathlessly, barely able to force the words out over her thrumming heartbeat.

His lips parted in disbelief. "You want me to tell you?" he choked slightly, his voice a little higher pitched than usual, and she nodded. He hastily ran a hand through his curls, tugging on them roughly. Then it all came pouring out.

"I don't know, Katniss. I think about you naked, I think about you in that dark green bikini you wear at the pool. I think about—I think about you going down on me. I think about going down on you. I think about sex, mostly. I think about fucking you in my bed, in the shower, in my car, on a wrestling mat, on the table in Biology. I—anywhere, everywhere, it doesn't matter. I'm sure I've imagined it all. I think about you on top, I think about me on top, I think about taking you from behind, I—do you want me to keep going?" he asked, his voice strained, and she shook her head desperately.

"No," she gasped, curling her fingers into her palm tightly. "Just—stop talking and just do it."

His jaw dropped. "What?" he asked sharply. "You want me to—?"

"Yes!" she hissed, her hands trembling. She was seeping with want now. "I want that, I want all of that. All of it, it all sounds good, Peeta. I want you to give it to me, please."

He was up and out of his chair in less than a second, their bodies colliding as he jerked her into his arms; her mouth met his hungrily, their tongues and lips clashing. They both groaned in relief as their tongues twisted together, their hands roaming searchingly. She clawed at his back, at his hips, his hair, and he cupped her face while he tilted her head to push his tongue deeper into her mouth, flicking over the roof of her mouth.

She wasn't even aware he had backed her up to her bed until her legs hit the mattress and her knees buckled. She sat down heavily, breaking the kiss, but Peeta hastily yanked her jacket off. Then he was pulling at his own clothes, tugging his shirt over his head. Katniss followed his lead and whipped her own shirt over her head, then she crawled backward some, falling back to shimmy out of her pants. He was already stepping out of his pants, and he helped her pull her pants off her feet, taking her shoes with them. She was already reaching behind her back to unhook her bra when he leaned over her to tug her panties off.

There was no hesitation in their movements now; everything was fluid, like his hands knew where to go, like they'd been waiting for this moment. She wasn't even embarrassed or self-conscious about him seeing her naked body. She didn't think about how small her breasts were or how she hadn't shaved her bikini line in a few days. It didn't matter. He was still staring at her like she was the most precious thing he had ever seen—but also like he wanted to fuck that precious thing so hard it broke.

Her clit throbbed painfully, and she groaned impatiently, throwing her bra somewhere over the edge of the bed. Then she reached for him, hiking her feet up on the bed so she was spread before him, ready to accept him. "Peeta, take your underwear off already," she whined. He couldn't tear his gaze from the juncture of her thighs as he bent over to remove his boxer-briefs, then he was kneeling between her legs, crawling over her. She pushed up on her elbows to look at him; she knew she'd seen his cock the night before, but she wanted to drink in the sight of him fully naked now.

Really, was there a more perfect best friend in the world?

"Fuck, Katniss, you're so fucking perfect," he groaned, his mouth sliding across her cheek as he settled above her, and she wanted to laugh at how his thoughts echoed hers. When she felt the head of his cock graze her folds, she gasped, bracing herself for him to push into her. But he didn't, his hand sliding up her rib cage to palm her breast. His mouth latched onto the other breast, his lips puckering around her nipple as his thumb traced the other bud, and she arched upward with a moan. She weaved her fingers through his curls to spur him on.

But when his other hand slipped between her legs to rub her clit, she had to fist the sheets tightly. "Shit!" she hissed, already rocking her hips. It wasn't going to take long at all. His mouth pressed against her neck, and he suckled the flesh there urgently, breaking the suction periodically to lave her skin with his tongue. His fingers bore down harder on her clit as the sounds she issued got more frantic and louder until she shattered, her body bowing off the bed. Her shout echoed around the room, and if she had any wherewithal right then she might have sent up a silent thank you that his dad wasn't home.

The pleasure between her thighs dulled eventually, and she sank back into the mattress, her hands ghosting over his arms and back. Peeta lifted himself off her, but she tried to pull him back against her. "No, wait," she breathed pleadingly, but he exhaled a breathless laugh.

"I need a condom," he told her, and she relaxed, watching him stand up and cross to his nightstand to rifle through it. They hadn't even made it upright on his bed. She tried not to stare at his cock, but it was impossible to look at anything else. And his ass. Her pelvis tensed in anticipation, and she took a deep breath to steady herself, closing her eyes before she could think too much.

He got a condom on in record timing, and then he was back over her, nudging her thighs open farther with his knees. He aligned his face with hers, his breath hot against her mouth. "Okay, I'm gonna..."

She nodded eagerly, squeezing his waist between her knees. "Yes," she encouraged, urging her hips toward his. She felt the head of his cock parting her folds, and she mewled, shifting her hips so that he was pressing at her entrance; Peeta pushed into her then, stretching her fully, and she inhaled sharply before releasing a guttural moan. It pinched some—it had been a while for her—but there was something so satisfying about being filled by him. He was a part of her.

He released a small gasp, the air sticky and warm on her face, and then he was moving again, pulling out and pushing in again, and again. Her body arched toward him, her hips meeting his each time, like she didn't want him to leave her, like she was welcoming him home each time. The feeling was exquisite.

"Good?" Peeta finally forced out, his hand cupping her breast forcefully while his other stretched over her head to grip the edge of the mattress, propelling him forward in his thrusts. She nodded eagerly and wrapped her arms around his back, planting her heels into the mattress to buck against him faster.

"So fucking good," she gasped when he pinched her nipple, his hips swiveling in a hard thrust. She dragged her fingers down the taut muscles of his back to grip his ass tightly. "Are you gonna come? I want you to come so hard, Peeta," she whispered in his ear, not even sure where the words were coming from.

He groaned against her neck, sliding his hand from her breast to her thigh to hitch it up farther. "Soon," he panted. "Oh, god, you feel fucking amazing, Katniss. You're so tight, and—ah—you feel even wetter than last night, fuck."

His words made her stomach tighten deliciously, and she squeezed his cock inside her in response, making him groan. His thrusts became faster, more erratic, and she pulsed the muscles of her walls around him every time he pushed into her, sensing his orgasm.

"Shit," he cursed, his hips slamming into hers haltingly a couple more times, and then he stilled on top of her with a choked moan. She felt his cock throbbing inside her as he emptied himself into the condom, and she held him tighter, pressing the side of her face against his, panting softly.

After a moment, he stirred and pushed himself up some to look down at her. He was still breathing heavily, his lips parted, and his eyes searched her face. "You okay?" he asked, and she nodded, letting her hands slip from his back so he could get up. He pulled out of her, and she briefly closed her eyes at the loss before she forced them open to watch him dispose of the condom. She felt cold without his warmth, and she pressed her thighs together, awkwardly wrapping her arms around her torso to shield her breasts.

She didn't know what to do now. She'd just had sex with her best friend. How was she supposed to act now? How did this change things?

"Katniss..." Peeta started uneasily, and she looked at him. He stood at the edge of the bed, watching her, still naked. Her eyes kept dropping to his softening cock, her cheeks heating, and he finally seemed to register his state. "Uh, let me just—put some clothes on..." As he slipped his boxer-briefs back on, she rolled over and snatched his pillow up to hug to her chest. He sat down on the bed and then lay on his back next to her, both of them staring at the ceiling. "So, what now?" he asked, and she tensed, glancing over at him.

"I was going to ask you that," she said honestly, picking at the pillowcase. "Is it out of your system?"

He frowned in confusion and looked at her. "What?"

She dropped his gaze. "I mean...now that you've had sex with me, is that enough for you?"

He looked horrified. "Enough?" he echoed, and he rolled over, prying the pillow from her, then he pressed his body to her bare flesh, making her tremble. "Do you think that was enough for me? I've thought about fucking you since I was 13, so, no, I haven't had nearly enough of you, Katniss."

Her breath hitched in her throat, and she grabbed onto his shoulders. "Okay," she said, the response wholly inadequate, but he kissed her, his tongue dipping into her mouth. When he released her mouth, her lips tried to follow, but then he forced his hand between her closed thighs, immediately finding her clit, and she cried out at the unexpected sensation.

"Is it enough for you?" he asked, leisurely stroking her clit, and she shook her head, squeezing her eyes shut.

"No!" she cried, her legs falling open for him; he rubbed harder, and she preened. "More, Peeta, I need—I need—" She was unable to finish the sentence, lost in her euphoria. His fingers worked her until she came again with a hoarse shout, and when he shoved his fingers inside her, her entire body tightened around him, her walls milking his fingers as he pumped them in and out roughly until her orgasm receded. Then he pulled his hand away and shifted his body over hers, falling between her legs. She could feel his erection through his boxer-briefs again already. He grabbed her wrists and pinned her arms to the mattress.

"Good," was all he said, rocking his cock purposely against her center, and she pushed back against him, feeling delirious with want and happiness.

This was right. Everything felt right.

"Fuck, Katniss, I'm gonna come," Peeta warned, a slight growl to his voice, and she rode him harder, swiveling her hips on top of his.

"Wait, wait," she begged, throwing her head back as she leaned forward, her hands splayed on his chest, pressing her hips as hard as she could to his, her clit catching on his pelvic bone. Peeta grabbed her thighs tightly and thrust up into her frantically.

"I—oh god, I can't, fuck," he cried as he strained off the bed and then dropped his hips to the mattress, groaning softly as he spilled himself into the condom. She rocked on top of him a few more times as he pulsed inside her until pleasure exploded between her thighs, and she wailed into the silence of the room, her arms shaking as her orgasm ripped through her.

They stopped moving after a moment, panting heavily. She dipped her face to his to kiss him languidly, and he palmed her cheeks, tasting her tongue before he released her. When she felt satiated, she lifted her hips off his, feeling him slide out of her, and then she lay down beside him, burrowing her face in the pillow.

"That was the last of the condoms," he reminded her, his voice husky, and she nodded sleepily. They'd been at it all afternoon, unable to get enough after that first time earlier that day. She was on the pill, so she supposed the condoms weren't really necessary, but she was beyond sore now. It was probably best they stopped, anyway.

Peeta looked at the time on his phone and sighed. "My dad should be home soon," he added, pulling the condom off his cock and dropping it in the trash bin next to his bed. It had to be full of latex and semen by this point, she thought; she hid her sudden grin behind her hand, but she was immediately sobered by the thought of his dad.

Which made her think of her mom. And their parents dating.

Meanwhile, here their children were, fucking for hours. Shit.

But it just felt so good. It had never felt so good before. No one had ever made her feel like Peeta had. She felt loved and cherished and wanted and respected.

She rolled onto her back and ran a hand over her face, and Peeta turned on his side to face her; they were both still naked and sweaty, but she didn't mind. She tried not to look at his dick, though. Every time she did, it made her ache all over again, and then they were back to being distracted by sex and fondling each other's genitals.

Katniss sighed after a moment, glancing back at him. "So, you've made me come 10 times now, but we're still no closer to figuring out what happens next," she pointed out, and his eyebrows shot up. He sounded like he was choking on his spit.

"Ten times?!" he repeated incredulously, and she snorted in amusement, sitting up on her elbows.

"Give or take," she said, picking at a thread on the sheets. She guessed she lost count after seven.

Peeta laughed breathlessly and wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her flush against him. He buried his face in her hair and inhaled deeply. "I don't know, honestly. My brain is complete mush right now. I think I'm delirious. All I want to do is sleep and continue to fuck you, but that's not really possible."

She smiled, her neck flushing at his words, and she nuzzled his neck. "Well, sometimes it happens. It's called sexsomnia."

He hummed and then chuckled. "Man, that sounds kind of awesome. Good for multitasking."

She scoffed. "Not really. You wouldn't even know you're having sex, so you wouldn't enjoy it," she informed him, snuggling up to his chest. His hands tangled in her hair, combing it out, and she sighed. She felt safe.

"Well, I guess that would be a problem," he mused. "Because I am definitely enjoying this."

She bit her lip, fighting a grin, and closed her eyes. His ministrations in her hair were simultaneously making her feel sleepy and aroused. It was a confusing sensation, and she pressed tighter against him, moaning lightly. Peeta laughed softly. "What?" he asked curiously, smoothing his hand down her back to her hip, where he trailed his fingers over the curve of her ass and the back of her thigh.

Katniss shook her head. "You're turning me on again," she whined, not even sure how it was possible. It was like they were making up for years of repressed sexual attraction.

"Damn it," he cursed, stifling a laugh. "I don't think I've physically got it in me anymore." That was a good thing, she told herself; she was pretty sure she was going to be walking bow-legged for a week, and she did not want to invite any more questions or speculation about her gait or sex life than necessary.

He rolled her onto her back suddenly, settling over her. She furrowed her eyebrows, and he arched one. "I could go down on you, though," he offered, his blue eyes twinkling, and her jaw went slack. He grinned, moving his mouth closer to hers so his lips brushed hers when he spoke, his voice barely above a murmur. "I got a taste last night, but I need more. I wanna know what your pussy tastes like."

She choked on an incredulous laugh, her eyes going wide. "Oh, my god," she gasped. "I can't believe—" She shook her head, laughing. "You have a filthy mouth."

He feigned an expression of confusion. "What, pussy? What's wrong with pussy? Did you want me to say cunt instead?"

Her laugh sounded high-pitched and bizarre to her ears, and she was sure her face was beet red. She'd heard just about every other word out of that lovely mouth of his, but that was a first, she was pretty sure. At least, in that context. It did naughty things to her. She pressed a hand to his mouth and pushed him back some. "Jesus Christ, Peeta, just—shut up and do something else with your mouth already."

He chuckled as he slid down her body, peppering her breasts with kisses. "I'm working on it," he teased, sucking her nipple into her mouth, flicking it with his tongue, and she tensed in anticipation, flexing her knees. She could feel herself getting wetter, and she groaned in disbelief. How could he make her feel this way?

She sucked in her stomach reflexively when he moved his mouth lower, his lips tickling her abdomen, but then he halted abruptly, lifting his head. "Shit," he said, his face creased in concern. "I think my dad's home."

She groaned loudly, slapping the mattress. "God damn it," she cried out, and he just laughed as he pushed off the bed, hurriedly locating his clothes. She sat up and grabbed the damp washcloth he had brought her earlier to clean herself—before they'd gotten distracted by sex again. Wiping herself off, she winced slightly at the soreness between her legs, and then she found her clothes to slip on. Fanning her hair out, she rebraided her hair as Peeta made an attempt to straighten his bed.

"God, it smells like sex in here," he complained jokingly, cracking the window open to air his room out. He turned around and handed her her jacket from the foot of the bed, raising his eyebrows. "Well, it's a good thing your jacket has a collar," he said, and she frowned skeptically as she shrugged it on. Peeta smiled sheepishly, moving closer to graze his fingers under her collar against her neck. "I gave you a hickey. Sorry."

She made a face, tugging on the collar self-consciously. "Shit. How bad is it?" she asked, and he scrunched his nose.

"Well, I hope you have concealer at home because I'm sure somebody's going to notice. You can't see it right now, at least."

Huffing, she shoved on his chest lightly and stuffed her feet into her shoes. "I have been here way too long," she said, only half-joking as she crossed to the door, but he grabbed her hand and pulled her back to him.

"Wait a minute," he insisted, then he kissed her sweetly, slowly. When he broke away, he smiled at her. "Since I can't do that downstairs."

Blushing mildly, she returned his smile. They stared at each other for a moment, their expressions sobering. Katniss knew once they left his room, the bubble of suspension they had sealed themselves in for the afternoon would pop and they would have to face the reality of their situation. The thought made her sick to her stomach, and she tried to push it away again, ensconcing him in a tight hug. They would figure it out, somehow.

They exited his room together, Peeta a step behind her, bounding down the stairs; Katniss swallowed a groan, grimacing at the pain that lanced between her legs. Damn it.

They both pulled up short when they found Ms. Everdeen and Mr. Mellark in the living room. She hadn't been expecting her mom, and her hand instinctively reached for Peeta's before she realized what she was doing, tucking it back against her side. Her mother smiled when she spotted them.

"Oh, hey. I thought you might be here. We saw your car outside."

Katniss nervously ran her hand over her braid and pulled self-consciously on her collar. "Um, yeah, we were studying," she lied, but then she wanted to kick herself; she hadn't brought any of her books with her to support that claim. It was such an obvious cover. She looked back at Peeta for help, but he just raised his eyebrows helplessly at her.

Luckily, their parents didn't seem to notice the discrepancy, as they didn't press the issue, so Katniss turned back to them, eager to change the subject. "What are you doing here? I thought you were at work," she directed at her mother.

Ms. Everdeen smiled and glanced at Mr. Mellark. "I was. I got off early though, so I thought I'd surprise Faren at the bakery. We're going to have dinner together."

Katniss cleared her throat, trying to retain her composure. "Oh, okay. Cool. What are we having?" she asked, and her mother's expression faltered.

"Ah, no, dear. I meant...just the two of us. Here. You don't mind making dinner for you and Prim tonight, do you? And Peeta, if he wants."

Katniss was a little stunned, so Peeta coughed from behind her. "Sure, that's fine. I can just eat with them," he assured, shaking Katniss from her stupor. Ms. Everdeen and Mr. Mellark smiled in relief.

"Great, thank you, son," Mr. Mellark said.

"Uh, let me just go grab some things, and I'll meet you outside, Katniss," Peeta said before heading back upstairs. Katniss shuffled uncomfortably, unable to look at their parents.

"Well, I'll just—I'll see you later," she told them uncertainly and quietly slipped out the front door. She was at her car when she heard Peeta calling to her and turned around. He jogged up to her, his expression serious.

"You okay?" he asked.

She shook her head. "That was surreal."

He sighed and ran his hand through his hair, leaning against her car. "Yeah. I feel all out of sorts now." Katniss nodded. She had expected the slap of reality the moment they left his room, but she wasn't prepared to be hit with it like a fucking mack truck.

"I can't believe they kicked us out to have a date..." Her eyes widened as a thought hit her. "Oh, my god, what if they have sex, Peeta? Are they having sex already?!"

He looked horrified. "Shit, I don't...I have no idea." He rubbed a hand over his face and gave a weak laugh. "Man, I hope he doesn't go into my room to get a condom," he joked, and she punched his arm.

"Not funny, Peeta!" she yelled, throwing her car door open.

"I'm being serious, Katniss!" he said, and he circled around to the passenger side to slide in as she started her car. "He might get a little suspicious when he sees the trashcan full of condoms."

She turned her wide eyes on him. "Oh, my god, I'm freaking out here, Peeta!"

He reached over to touch her arm. "Hey, he's not going to go into my room. I don't think he's even aware I own condoms. Don't worry. It's fine. It'll be fine. Just...let's go to your house, and, I don't know, we can try to work out what to do there. Okay?" He cupped her jaw, his thumb smoothing over her cheek. She stared at him, conflicted. How could they work this out when all she wanted to do was kiss his stupid perfect mouth? That was the problem!

Sighing, she nodded and forced herself to look away. "Okay. You're right. We'll figure it out."

She just wasn't sure she'd like the solution.

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