Rated M for some mature themes, language, and content. The Hunger Games and all of its characters are owned by the brilliant Suzanne Collins.

Well, here we go! This is my first ever published work of fiction :) I hope you like it. I'm quite new to this so I'd appreciate some reviews telling me what I can improve upon. I'm very bad at titles, so if you come up with a better one, PLEASE let me know. Enjoy :)

-Mel


"Come on! It's gonna leave without us, Katniss!" Johanna groaned impatiently, clutching a tree as she bent to replace her 5-inch pumps with some worn black Converse. Her expression was cross as her black graduation gown kept getting in the way of her feet. They were all standing a few feet away from an old stone building where people were starting to gather for a reception, and Johanna wanted to leave before anyone could stop and distract her. Katniss and Prim watched with amusement a few yards away from her. The taller brunette turned back to her younger sister and clutched her shoulders tightly before pulling her into their third hug good-bye.

"Go already, you're gonna have so much fun!" Prim's fingers tugged playfully on the end of Katniss's makeshift braid. "And congratulations. I'm so proud of you, Katniss. Really." The younger blonde took Katniss's diploma from her hands, carefully placing it into a black purse.

"This will be hanging up on the wall when you get back, I swear."

"I'm gonna miss you, little duck." Katniss pulled away from her and beamed. "Be good, okay? You'll have fun with mom, and I think I've just about convinced her to let you come down for a weekend." She laughed as Prim's eyes widened with excitement. She was about to lean in to hug her again when one of the guys called for them to hurry the hell up. She shook her head, a small smile playing at the corners of her lips. She didn't even look up to see who it was, her eyes focused solely on Prim, who she'd be leaving for the third time this year. Katniss was really going to miss her little sister.

"I gotta go, Prim. I'll call you when we get there." Quickly, she slipped into some black flip-flops, clutching her own wedged sandals in her left hand and her graduation cap in another. She bent to kiss Prim's forehead before she turned and ran to catch up with Jo, who by now was leaning against the very same tree trying to light a cigarette.

"Take tons of pictures, okay?" Prim called after her. "And let your hair down a little, for god's sake. It's summer!" Katniss turned away and grinned. "Of course, Prim. I promise." For her graduation gift, Prim had given Katniss a digital camera. It was unlike any camera she'd ever had before; it was made of golden material, had a screen on the front and the back, and took excellent high quality pictures. There was even an engravment below the lens: " To Katniss, with love. –Prim." Short, sweet, and simple. Just the way she liked it.

"Really, Jo?" Katniss had caught up to her friend, plucking the cigarette away from her fingers and chucking it into a trashcan nearby. "Plenty of time for that later." She grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the parking lot, where already their friends were gathered around a huge white van, watching them in annoyance.

"Bye Prim!" Katniss called over her shoulder again, glancing one last time at her eighteen-year old sister whose frilly white sundress was waving in the gentle breeze. She had pulled her black sunglasses down over her eyes, and was shaking her head as her shoulders shook with laughter. Where had her little sister gone, the one who's shirt was never tucked in? The one she used to sing to at night? Heaving a sigh, she turned back to Jo, who was scowling again.

"It's been a good fifteen minutes, Kat. You seriously need to work on making your goodbyes a teensy bit quicker." They were in the parking lot now, speed walking towards the van, looking like idiots as they raced each other to the huge white truck. They hadn't even stayed for the family reception. Katniss's mom had visited her a week before school ended to stay congratulations and goodbye, but she had a full time job at a nursing home and couldn't often take time off.

As soon as they had thrown their caps into the air and raced to find them, Katniss left to find Prim, the only other family member who could make it to her college graduation. Prim was her favorite person in the world. She was beautiful, humble, and unbelievably smart. It was Prim's dream to become a neurosurgeon. She told Katniss this one night after they had lost track of time and stayed up talking past three in the morning. They told each other everything, so it really pained Katniss when she had to leave for college, where she wouldn't be able to ask Prim a question any time she'd wanted to. Plus, saying goodbye was really important to her. When she was younger she hadn't been able to say goodbye to her dad before her mother received the news that he'd been shot while on duty. Prim was young then, but Katniss was old enough to understand that he was never coming back. It was still something that to this day she still struggled to accept. So Katniss just shrugged Johanna off.

"Speaking of goodbyes, I can't wait to fucking get rid of this place. I mean I love it, don't get me wrong. I'm just so done." They had reached the van now, where a few of the guys were gathered around the trunk, looking through coolers and hoisting suitcases and duffels into the very back of the vehicle. They were checking to make sure they had everything they needed.

"I know what you mean," Johanna quipped, grabbing Katniss's cap and chucking it along with their shoes into the trunk, barely missing Gale's head. He didn't seem to notice, as he was hurriedly reading over a clipboard, no doubt a list containing all of their necessities for the trip. That was so Gale. Always making sure everything was in the right place, because if it wasn't, they wouldn't have a good time. Katniss reached forward to pinch one of his butt cheeks and he raised his head in surprise, but she had already dragged Johanna to the side of the van where the door was open.

Thresh was in the front seat, seatbelt on and everything. His hands were already on the wheel. He rolled his eyes as the girls hoisted themselves up into the van in a fit of giggles.

"Shut up, Thresh," Johanna spat, flicking him on the back of his head with her newly manicured nail. Johanna pushed in front of Katniss and began making her way to the back of the twelve-person van they had all chipped in for. They were renting it for the summer because they all agreed they would, for the most part, be together anyways. Katniss pulled at the hem of her denim shorts that she had rushed to change into after the ceremony had ended. Her blue tank top with the name of her alma mater written on the front was already sticking to her skin. It had to be at least ninety degrees outside.

"Check your fly, Katniss," Marvel said, louder than it needed to be, stretched out across a seat nearby. His long legs nearly took up the whole row, where he had already fashioned a makeshift bed out of beach towels and everyone else's pillows. She looked down and laughed, pulling it up swiftly. "Thanks dude." He nodded and winked at her, pulling a baseball cap down over his eyes. It seemed like he was already on his way to relaxation. She stumbled her way down the aisle to the very back of the bus, eyeing the empty seat in the last row, when she tripped and nearly fell over someone's outstretched leg.

"Whoaaa, Kitty Kat. Better watch your feet. That would have made a really nasty and very embarrassing fall." Peeta grinned up at her, grasping her wrist to help steady her body. He was seated in the second-to-last row, one headphone in his ear, his IPhone balanced carefully on his thigh. A few golden curls stuck to his forehead, and Katniss resisted the urge to wipe them away. He shook his head, mocking disapproval, his beautiful blue eyes laced with laughter. She only pursed her lips at him. God, she hated that name. Kitty Kat. But it had been his nickname for her since the seventh grade, and she didn't think he was going to change it any time soon. Instead, she gripped his fingers and squeezed them a little too hard.

"You know, PeePee, if your hairy-ass leg wasn't sticking out of the aisle so far, I don't think I would've tripped over it." She bent down dramatically and lifted his protruding leg, purposely pulling at some of his blonde leg hairs, and pushed it back into his own row. She straightened up and collapsed into the back seat, crossing her ankles and propping her feet up near Peeta's ear.

"Ouch. PeePee. I actually haven't heard that one in a while," he winced and rubbed at his leg where she had pulled his hair. He picked up a blue Gatorade, popping the cap, and pulled a navy blue hat onto his head so that the visor was facing backwards. It pushed his curls even farther down his forehead. Peeta took a sip of the blue drink, turning to face her. He slowly licked off the line of blue that had collected on his upper lip, and Katniss suddenly wanted to taste the drink. She was about to reach out and grab it when Gale jumped into the van. It shook for a few seconds as he slid the door shut, sloshing both her and Peeta with the Gatorade. Gale smiled and bent his head so that it wasn't touching the roof.

"One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight," he started to count off. "…. Wait. Where's Finnick?" His finger landed on the empty seat that should have housed a handsome, toned, and tan young man. All of their heads turned to look for their friend impatiently. Katniss half expected him to pop out from the trunk with a six-pack of beer. It was really time to get going. Any later and they were going to hit a shit-load of traffic.

"Oh god." It was Annie that spoke; the last person Katniss thought would have acknowledged Finnick's absence. She and Finn didn't really get along. It all started as soon as Katniss had introduced the two during one of their first college parties as freshman. Finnick was instantly smitten with her, asking her out the moment their hands touched. Annie, shy and secluded, could only look down at her feet as her cheeks flushed a deep red. When she politely declined, Finnick was hurt. It's been awkward ever since.

Annie raised her hand to cover her mouth as she looked out the window, her eyes trained on something outside the car. In the matter of a moment they had all clambered to the left side of the van, so now it was very obviously weighted down.

Katniss lowered her head to peer out of the glass, trying to find what all of her friends were watching so intently.

"Oh…my…" She repeated her friend. There was Finnick, stripped down to nothing but a pair of tighty whities and his graduation cap, making a beeline for the van. They all watched in silence as heads (both parents and graduates alike) turned from every direction to watch the scene unfolding before them as he pushed his way through the gathering crowd. A goofy grin was plastered on his face as he shimmied in between the trees, headed for their direction.

"Um," Peeta blinked, not averting his eyes. He was trying not to crack up. "You should drive away." A moment of silence passed before Thresh slammed on the gas, throwing everybody violently back into their seats.

"GO GO GO!" Gale grasped the two front seats, craning his neck to catch a glimpse of Finnick. There was fear in his eyes, an emotion rarely expressed by carefree Finnick. He obviously wasn't expecting this latest hitch in his 'last-day-of-school-forever-going-out-with-a-bang' stunt. Last year's prank had been immensely successful. As the graduating class had had their picture taken on the steps of the main building, Finnick (along with a few who preferred to be kept anonymous but were currently inside the van watching their chief conspirator run for his life) had dumped bins full of freezing cold pool water on to their poor, slicked and primped heads. That had landed him in some pretty deep shit. So this year's surprise was a pretty ballsy move on his part. Katniss was pretty sure that indecent exposure on the school's campus could get him kicked out. But it probably didn't matter now that they were leaving for good. That's probably what ran through Finn's brain 30 seconds before he began to strip. He ran down the North hill, gaining speed as he neared road. Somebody threw their diploma at him, but he ducked it and ran even faster. His long legs and track-star body had helped him to keep up for a while, but he was beginning to tire. By now they were nearing the edge of the campus, about to pull off of the main road and onto the freeway. It was only when they were out of everyone's sight behind a line of trees that they finally slowed down for their friend. Gale slid the door open, doubled over in laughter as his red-faced friend practically dove into the van.

"Fuck. You. Guys." He gasped, splayed out on the van's floor as he tried to regain his breath. Katniss slid back into her seat, trying unsuccessfully to contain a chuckle, and leaned down so that she was close to Finnick's ear.

"I want you so bad right now," she whispered to him, sliding her finger under the waistband of his underwear, pulling it back and releasing it so that it snapped back onto his skin with a loud crack.

They all busted into laughter and handed Finn a bottle of water and some shorts before they situated themselves back into their seats, starting to get comfortable for the three-hour ride ahead of them. It was a long day, and they were all worn out, especially Finnick. He glared at anyone who caught his eye, obviously not ready to forgive them for betraying him in front of everyone. Katniss just sighed and watched through the window as they finally pulled out of the campus grounds. She watched the thick, shady trees as they began to grow fewer and fewer. They passed the apartment where she had spent the last four years of her life bunked up with Johanna, Madge, and Annie. She had meant what she said before; she was done with college. But she was still going to miss it. College had been the best four years of her life. It was where she had met her best friends, and made some of her best and happiest memories. She smiled to herself, thinking that Prim was getting ready to leave for her own college adventure in the fall for the first time.

Now they were on the highway, and she glanced around the van; most of them were sleeping, some were chatting quietly, and Finnick was still moping, but she couldn't contain her smile. She and her friends were heading for the shore for the entire summer, where they were going to stay at a huge beach house that they had chipped in to rent right on a private beach. When she had heard of the plan for the first time a few months before graduation, she doubted it would ever work. There were too many people and none of them would be able to afford it. Gale and Finnick, the masterminds, wouldn't let their idea be thrown away, though. One Saturday night instead of heading to their usual party, the girls were invited to Gale's apartment that he shared with Peeta and Finnick. Peeta cooked them a delicious meal, and Katniss had probably had one too many glasses of wine when she finally agreed to the plan and helped to convince the other girls.

To be able to afford the summer vacation they all had to compromise. She, Jo, Peeta, Finnick, and Gale had all gotten jobs as lifeguards at the beach. They were the most athletic out of all of their friends, besides Thresh; he was going to be a personal trainer in the beach community that they were going to be staying at. Marvel and a guy named Dill who was fairly new to their friend group, (but was a great guy nonetheless), mostly wanted to spend their summer scoping out the chicks, but they decided to find jobs at the local golf course. Madge, Delly, Annie, and Rue were either going to work shifts at a nearby breakfast place, clean some of the other houses in the neighborhood, or babysit the landlord's kids. The house they were staying at was definitely not a cheap one; There were seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a huge kitchen, a workout-room, a theater area, and a study. The best part, Katniss thought, was the huge wrap-around porch that overlooked the beach from the back, and the beautiful sunny community at the front. This was going to be their home for the summer, so they needed a big place for twelve people. As for the number of bedrooms…well, they were going to have to make it work. Some of us are probably going to end up shacking up anyway before the end of the summer, Katniss thought with a small laugh.

Peeta turned at the sound of her voice and leaned back to meet her gaze. She smiled brightly at him, and he could only reciprocate, his blue eyes and her grey ones sparkling with excitement and anticipation. This wasn't the first vacation she had been on with her friends; in fact, she, Peeta, Gale, and Madge had visited Washington D.C. for their high school graduation four years back. It was the first time that they had been on their own without supervision. God, she thought, that seemed like yesterday.

They were ecstatic when they met Finnick and Annie their freshman year, because it made them feel better about barely knowing anyone. It seemed to boost their popularity level even the slightest bit around the small school, which was more than they could have asked for. In his first week at the college Finnick had already established a notorious reputation of player/prankster/master romancer. They all grew so close (despite Finnick and Annie's slightly tense relationship), making new friends along the way until they had established possibly the best group of friends on the entire campus. They threw the best parties and they even had a few classes together. They put all judgment aside and helped each other through the best and worst of times, like when Finnick's mother died, when Johanna lost her little brother, when Thresh's family lost their house, and even when Peeta's mother developed a rare form of cancer. She never expected to have made so many friends. She wasn't very good at doing that. But now that college was over, Katniss would be heading off to a veterinary school the following year, all by herself. Despite her love for hunting, Katniss loved domestic animals and had aspired to be a vet ever since her sister had rescued a tiny kitten from a dumpster. A nasty old brat he had turned out to be, but Buttercup made her sister happy and that (she guessed) was all that mattered.

But now thoughts of school could be pushed aside, for as each minute passed they were getting closer to their destination. Her friends were starting to rouse when the salty sea air hit their faces, and they rolled down the windows to take it all in. Finnick even stuck his head out of the window, panting like a dog, only to be pulled abruptly back into the vehicle by Gale when a passing truck had zoomed ahead of them. Katniss re-braided her hair, checking to make sure that she had all of her belongings before she sat back for the rest of the ride. She could only hope that this would be an amazing summer, because it was probably the last one that she would be able to spend with these amazingly dorky people she had grown to love.


I hope you liked the first chapter! It was very fun to write. I'll try to put up the next one soon, and I'll post a link to a blog containing pictures of the story on my profile. Thanks guys!