"I have the most amazing news!" Prim gushed, her voice filling the room from the tiny speaker on Katniss' phone.
"How did you guess?"
"You've been trying for a year now, Prim," Katniss said, sitting down on the couch in her townhouse. "Why didn't you tell me this weekend?"
"I knew you were with Peeta and I didn't want to interrupt," Prim said. "Seriously, it's been a year now Katniss, don't you think it's time you gave up your townhouse and just moved back here?"
Katniss sighed. Prim had been campaigning for her to move for six months straight. Peeta hadn't said anything outright, but she knew that their constant upheaval was wearing on him. He'd hired two more bakers to keep up with the demands of the bakery when he was here in Philly with her but it killed him not to be there every day, greeting customers and sneaking cookies to the little kids that came in with their parents. "Don't start, Prim. I've had a long drive-"
"That you wouldn't have to do if you'd just admit to yourself that you're in love with that man and marry him."
"He hasn't asked," Katniss said curtly. "Besides-"
"Because he's not going to push you into something he thinks you don't want to do," Prim said, talking right over her. "I don't get the problem, Katniss. You love him, he adores you."
"Love isn't everything," Katniss snapped.
"Since when? When did you become such a cynic?" Prim said, her voice rising. "You have someone that is willing to put up with your bullshit and cater to your whims and what do you do? String him along for a whole year because you're afraid to let yourself live."
"Stop it! I don't need a lecture from you!"
Prim sighed. "You need one from someone, Katniss. Stop stringing him along. If you're never going to commit, let him go and find someone that can make him happy, because right now you're just being a selfish bitch."
"Prim, I'm happy for you, but I really don't need a lecture right now. I'll talk to you later." Katniss pressed the end button before she said something she'd regret, too tired to get into the screaming match that would inevitably ensue. Prim's words hit a little too close to home for comfort. She was being a selfish bitch and Peeta just put up with it, driving six hours every other week for a day and a half of time spent together. It wasn't fair to either one of them.
She stood up and blinked her eyes rapidly, trying to ward off the tears that had filled her eyes. "Stupid period, making me an emotional wreck," she snarled, stomping down the hall towards her bedroom to unpack.
Her cell phone rang as she was putting away the last of her clothes and she glanced at it, answering it when she saw it was her boss, Marvel.
"Hey, what's up?" she said as she lifted the phone to her ear.
"How was your weekend?"
Katniss frowned. He wanted to know about her weekend? "Um, fine, why?"
Niceties out of the way, Marvel got straight to the point. "I need you in Darfur. We just had another caravan attacked and Marnie is in the hospital in London with a lacerated liver."
"I can't go to Darfur, Marvel. We talked about this on Thursday. I thought you were going to send Chaff?"
"Chaff is on his way to Afghanistan, where we couldn't send a woman. There's no one else, Katniss."
"Fuck, Marvel. I told you the last time I couldn't go back there."
"That tribal leader was killed three weeks ago; the bounty on your head has been rescinded."
Katniss rolled her eyes. "Doesn't matter, Marvel, you'll never get me through the border. My name is on the watch list, remember?"
"I'm working on that right now. I just want you to think about it. We could really use you over there Katniss."
She sighed. "Fine, I'll think about it, but for right now, the answer is no."
Katniss glared at her phone, nearly tossing it across the room as it vibrated, Peeta's smiling face staring back at her from the screen, mocking her. With shaking hands, she set it on the counter. She couldn't deal with him right now, not when her life was falling down around her ears. Picking up the box on the counter, she glared at the smiling woman on the front of it. "Stupid bitch, do you have to look so goddamned happy? Not everyone is excited if the fucking line shows up, you know!" Taking out the little stick, she set the box back down before she pulled down her pants and sat on the toilet, trying to keep from puking into the trashcan. Her stomach was a bundle of nerves and she leaned forward, cradling her face in her hand, taking deep breaths to try to keep the meager lunch she'd eaten an hour ago from coming back up. Her other hand hovered over the stick, trying to find the courage to just pee on the damn thing and find out once and for all.
The sound of the key turning in the front door lock had her scrambling up, nearly falling flat on her face as she jerked her jeans up. Hitting her shoulder hard on the door frame, she hissed in pain as she stumbled out of the bathroom, lurching down the hallway just in time to see Peeta step into the living room of her rented townhouse.
"Hey," he said, setting his suitcase down on the floor and walking towards her, arms already opening to pull her into them. "I couldn't get a hold of you, so I decided to just go ahead and come out," he said against her temple as he hugged her tightly. He inhaled deeply, burying his nose in her hair. "God I missed you, so much," he breathed.
Katniss stood stiffly in his arms, eyes closed as she fought the almost overwhelming urge to just sink against him and let him take away all the worries she'd been fighting this past week.
He pulled back, a concerned frown on his face. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she said woodenly, moving out of his embrace. "I just wasn't expecting you."
He frowned. "Did you make other plans? I thought we'd agreed to spend this week together, since you were on your period last weekend?"
Katniss shrugged. "It didn't come," she said flatly, brushing past him to walk into the kitchen, pulling open a cabinet and taking down a glass, turning to fill it from the dispenser by the fridge.
She turned around, leaning one hip against the counter. "I'm late."
He moved closer, pulling out one of the stools at the small island and sitting down in it. "How late?"
"A week, give or take," she said, shrugging again before taking another long drink of water.
"And you didn't think this was information I'd be interested in hearing?"
She set the glass down on the island and stared over his shoulder, out the window. "You're hearing about it now, aren't you?"
He raked his hand through his hair and sighed. "Did you take a test?"
She shook her head. "Not yet, you walked in right as I was about to." Picking up her glass, she walked into the living room, sinking down onto the couch. "It's probably nothing; I've been dealing with a lot of shit at work, Prim and I are fighting and then the long distance thing…"
"Katniss," he said, getting up from the stool and following her into the living room. "This is a big deal, and we both know it."
She finally looked at him, really looked at him and the tears just spilled down her cheeks. "I know!" she shouted, gesturing wildly. "I know it's a fucking big deal without you telling me it's a big deal. Fuck! I knew this was going to happen dammit!" Setting the glass down, she thrust herself off the couch and began to pace the living room, running her hand over her braid every so often.
Peeta watched her pace the length of the room a few times before speaking, his voice thick with emotion. "You knew what was going to happen?"
She stopped pacing and stared at him, eyes red rimmed and swollen. "I knew that somehow, some way, this," she gestured wildly between them, "was going to fuck me in ways I couldn't deal with."
"This is my fault?" he asked roughly.
"No! Yes! Goddammit! It's both of our faults! We're the ones that fuck on a regular basis, right? It's not like I'm fucking anyone else."
"Katniss, take the test before you get crazy. You don't know if you even are pregnant," he said, rising from the couch and approaching her, hands held out in front of him.
She glared at him and wrapped her arms around her waist. "Don't touch me, I just need… just don't."
"Fine," he snapped. "Just go take the damn test and we'll talk when it's over." He spun on his heel and stalked back to the couch, flopping down on it.
"Easy for you to say," she muttered under her breath as she turned around to walk to the bathroom. "You're not the one whose whole life is going to change if that little line pops up pink."
"I heard you," he called loudly. "And yes, my life will change too." She could hear him walking towards the bathroom and she shut the door, clicking the lock. The handle jiggled and she heard him curse. "And now you're locking me out? Dammit, Katniss, you don't have to do this alone, I'll be here no matter what the test says."
"Just go wait in the living room," she said through the closed door, leaning against it and closing her eyes. "Please." She looked down at her hands, tears welling again as she saw how much they were shaking. Pushing up off the door, she stared at her reflection in the mirror, shaking her head sadly. "Pushing thirty and you still can't get your shit together, Everdeen." Grabbing the stick, she went to the toilet and followed the directions to the letter, pacing the small length of the bathroom as she waited for the results.
She could hear Peeta on the other side of the door and guilt finally made her click the lock. He pushed the door open and leaned against the frame. "I really hate it when you do this," he said softly.
Katniss stared at him hollow-eyed. "I just can't-"
He was across the small space before she even finished speaking, wrapping her up tightly in his arms, stroking her back lightly. "You don't have to. I'm here, Katniss. I love you and I'm here."
She sobbed uncontrollably against his shoulder, too flooded with emotions to respond. He held her tightly, murmuring softly under his breath. "Whatever it says, we'll be okay. We're adults, Katniss, we can deal with this."
She shook her head, backing away from him. "No, you're an adult, I'm a fucking mess."
Peeta sighed, raking his hand through his hair. "Its stress, you're not pregnant."
She rolled her eyes. "So now you're a doctor too?"
"I'm not going to fight with you, so you can stop trying to pick one," he said wearily, glancing over at the counter. "It was two minutes, right? I think it's done."
She pushed him out of the way and picked up the stick, closing her eyes briefly before staring down at the small window. It was blank, sterile whiteness filling the tiny oval. "I don't…" She held it out to him, her hand shaking like a leaf.
Peeta had the box in his hand, reading. "If it's blank, you're not pregnant. It only shows something if it's positive." He glanced down at the stick, emotions flitting across his face almost faster than she could process them, but the main one she saw before he shuttered it was disappointment. Her heart clenched painfully. Of course he was disappointed, this was everything he ever wanted but the thought of actually being pregnant, even with his kid made everything in her want to shrivel up and run away screaming.
"I'm not…we're…oh god, I'm gonna be sick," she muttered, dropping to her knees in front of the toilet and heaving. Peeta was behind her in seconds, holding her hair back and lightly stroking her back.
When she was finished, she laid her head on the seat and flushed the mess away. She felt him move, sitting down on the floor behind her. Turning her head, she looked over at him. He looked away quickly, but not before she saw the tears glinting in his eyes. Pain gnawed at her, along with guilt and she flipped her head back, using her hair as a curtain to hide behind.
"We should talk about this," he said eventually, his hand ghosting over the taut lines of her back.
"What's there to talk about?" she asked, pushing up off the floor and reaching for the glass next to the sink, filling it with water and rinsing her mouth. Her stomach was still rolling, but it wasn't bad enough to warrant her staying parked over the damn toilet anymore.
He stood up, meeting her eyes in the mirror. She broke the contact first, pulling open the door and rooting around for something to take the edge off. Her hand closed around a bottle of oxytocin that she'd had for a root canal a month or so ago. Opening the container, she shook out two and reached for the glass once more.
His hand closed over hers, and she lifted her head, staring up into a face that she knew almost as well as her own. His emotions were shuttered, but she knew how disappointed he was. "Do you really think that's a good idea?"
She jerked her hand free and lifted it to her lips, tossing the pills inside and taking a drink before answering him. "Yes, I think it's a fucking wonderful idea."
He held up his hands in surrender, going to the living room to retrieve his bag. She followed, leaning against the doorframe. "You're leaving now?"
He turned around, hefting the bag in his hand. "No, I was going to unpack, unless you want me to leave? Tell me what to do here, Katniss because it seems like I can't do a fucking thing right since I walked through that door."
Tears pricked her eyes and she dropped her gaze. He closed the distance between them. "I don't…"
"You don't? Don't what Katniss?"
Lifting her gaze, she glared at him. "I don't want you to leave."
"You're sure? I don't want you to feel like you have to spare my feelings. I'm a grown man, Katniss; you don't have to be afraid of hurting me. I think we've more than proved we're damn capable of that at least."
"Do you want to leave?"
"No, I don't," he said simply, sighing deeply. "But I also don't want to be where I'm not wanted."
"I don't want to fight with you," she said softly.
"I don't want to fight with you either," he said.
She took a step closer. "Stay, Peeta. Please."
He dropped the bag and wrapped his arms around her, nestling the top of her head beneath his chin. "Do you want to talk about it?"
She shook her head, her words muffled against his chest. "Not yet, I just want you to hold me."
"I can do that," he said, stroking lightly up and down her back. "Why don't we go lie down and try to get some sleep? I doubt you've had any and I was up at dawn to get here before noon."
"Okay," she said, letting him lead her back into the bedroom. He stripped off his jacket and got on the bed, holding out his arms to her. She crawled into them, resting her head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat.
He woke instantly, rolling over and wrapping his arms around her. "Sh, Katniss, it's okay, I'm here."
She stared at him wide eyed before collapsing against his chest, sobbing so hard that her shoulders shook and the front of his shirt was soaked in seconds. "I…nightmare…you…"
"I'm here, I'm not going anywhere," he said softly, stroking her hair with one big hand, cuddling her closer with the other.
"Scared…lost you." She gasped between sobs.
"Never," he breathed, pressing a kiss to her temple. "I love you, Katniss, I'll never leave you."
"I can't be the person you want me to be," she sobbed against his chest. "I can't even take care of myself, let alone a tiny baby."
"Sh, it's okay," he murmured. "You're not pregnant, Katniss, its okay."
She lifted her tear stained face to his. "But you want us to be, don't you?"
He sighed, knowing the drugs and the lack of sleep were making her more honest than she normally was. "I wouldn't say no to it."
She shook her head, burrowing back against his chest. "I'm such a fuckup."
"You aren't," he said, rubbing her back. "You're who you are and I love you."
"How can you love me if I can't ever give you what you want?" She pulled away from him and rolled over, hugging the pillow to her middle. "Why would you stay with me?"
"Because we belong together, Katniss. You're my other half, haven't you realized that yet?" He curled around her, slipping his arm beneath her head, curving the other around her waist, big hand spanning the space between her hips. "I'll love you until the day I die," he breathed against the shell of her ear.
Her hand moved to rest lightly over his, threading their fingers together as her breathing slowly quieted and evened out when sleep claimed her once more.
Katniss slept for fourteen more hours and when she woke, she was groggy as hell. The noises coming from the kitchen startled her and she slipped out of bed, reaching for the heavy flashlight she kept beside the bed for power outages. Creeping down the hall, she held it in her hand, ready to bean anybody that jumped out at her.
She peered around the corner and saw Peeta wearing an apron that one of her coworkers had got her as a joke, screen-printed with a woman's body in black lingerie. The flashlight fell to the floor as she doubled over laughing, nearly falling on the floor.
Peeta turned around and struck a pose. "What, you don't think I'm sexy?"
Katniss shook her head, wiping the tears from her eyes. "Dead sexy," she said, coming into the kitchen.
Peeta glanced at the flashlight on the floor. "Were you planning on knocking me out?"
Katniss flushed. "Sorry, the meds made me loopy and I forgot you were here, so when I heard something in the kitchen, I grabbed the flashlight."
He nodded, grabbing the bowl sitting on the counter and the whisk he'd bought when he'd discovered she kept nothing in her kitchen except the numbers for take-out places and began whisking the contents into a delicate froth. "Feeling better?"
"Yeah," she said softly, glancing around her kitchen. Every available surface was filled with pastries and cakes, enough to feed the entire neighborhood. If it wasn't so sad, she would've laughed. Peeta was so predictable in his method of dealing with stress – he baked until he could get a handle on things and then gave it all away. She sat down at the bar, watching him. "What're you making now?"
"Crepes," he said, smiling at her, glancing around sheepishly at all the food he'd made. "I took a walk and found a farmers market about a mile from here so I bought some fresh blueberries and strawberries."
"You bought more than that, looks like." Her stomach chose that very second to growl loudly and she laughed, patting it. "Smells delicious, if you couldn't tell."
Peeta leaned across the counter space and kissed the tip of her nose. "I love the fact that you eat and aren't ashamed of liking food."
"It helps that I have a boyfriend who is an amazing cook," she said, winking at him.
"And looks damn sexy in an apron," he said, returning her wink. "No more nightmares then?" he asked as she reached for a muffin, pulling the paper back and taking a big bite, her eyes closing in ecstasy as the sweet peach flavor filled her mouth.
Her eyes flipped open and she stared at him in confusion, swallowing the bite she had in her mouth. "Nightmare?" she asked, taking the glass of milk he handed her and washing the last bits of the muffin down.
"I guess it was the pills you took, or hell, maybe just the stress of everything, but you woke up screaming." He put the milk back into the fridge and leaned against the counter, staring at her.
"I…uh…" her voice trailed off and she picked her muffin. "I don't remember waking up, did we talk?"
Peeta shook his head. "Nevermind, if you don't remember it, it's probably for the best," he said resignedly. He picked up the bowl he'd set aside to get her drink and dipped his finger into it, holding it out to her. "Here, try this."
Her lips closed around it, sucking the light, sweet whipped cream off, her eyes closing in bliss. "Damn, that's good. How long are they gonna take?" she asked, reaching for another dip of whipped cream and nodding towards the stove.
"Two minutes, so stop eating all the cream."
"But it tastes so good," she whined, dipping her finger into it again and scooping up a huge dollop.
"It'll taste better on the crepes with the berries," he said sternly, moving the bowl out of her reach.
"Spoilsport," she griped, leaning her chin on her hands. He turned back around and dropped a pat of butter into one of the small sauté pans he had on the burners and she took a moment to admire the sleek curve of his ass as he filled the pan with a scoop of the thin batter and swirled it around, coating the bottom of the pan. When it was cooked, he flipped it over and out onto the plate he had waiting. He'd just lifted another spoonful of the batter when she spoke again. "Actually, it'd taste a lot better if I licked it off your cock."
He spun around, whipping crepe batter all across her kitchen. "What did you say?"
She grinned wickedly and rose from the chair, stalking across the kitchen to where he stood. Stopping just inches from his chest, she tilted her head up and slowly dragged her tongue across her lips. "I said, it'd taste a lot better if I licked it off your cock."
"Oh fuck," he breathed. "That's what I thought you said." He reached back and took the remaining pan off of the heat, flipping the burners off before turning back around. "Now, where were we?"
Katniss drew her finger down his chest. "Bring the whipped cream and meet me in the bedroom." She walked backwards out of the kitchen, staring at the slight rise in the apron that his cock made against it.
He reached for the bowl of whipped cream and followed her down the hall, watching as she shed clothing with each step. He couldn't undress and carry the bowl at the same time, so he just appreciated the view as she bumped up against the bed, falling back onto it, her legs dropping open. "Gimme," she said as he kicked the door shut behind him, reaching out to take the bowl. "Naked, Mellark." He set it in her hands and she dipped her finger into it and scooped up a big dollop, sticking it into her mouth and moaning.
"Are you sure you want this, after this morning?" He asked, standing at the foot of the bed watching her.
She dipped out another scoop of whipped cream and swirled it around her nipple, smiling wickedly when his eyes darkened. "There's condoms in the drawer and the stick was clear, I'm not pregnant so yes, I want this."
"If you don't want to, I can get myself off."
He glared at her. "Nice."
"Well, get your ass naked and come fuck me or stand there and lecture and I'll get myself off, your choice."
"You don't have to be a bitch," he said angrily, stripping off his clothes and tossing them aside. Once he was done, he jerked the bowl out of her hands and set it up on the bed, out of her reach, head dipping down to suck the sweet cream off of her nipple. His teeth grazed against the pebbled tip and she groaned, head dropping back to lie against the bed.
"I'm always a bitch," she gritted out, shifting restlessly as his teeth worked her nipple, his hand teasing against her clit.
"Doesn't mean I have to like it," he snapped as he kissed his way across her chest to suck and lick at her other breast, two fingers dipping into her pussy and thrusting against her spot.
"Oh fuck," she panted, hips rising in time with his movements. "I think it turns you on," she moaned, running her fingers through his tousled curls, tugging lightly on the fine strands when the beginnings of an orgasm rippled through her. Bliss saturated her body, sizzling along her limbs and leaving her shaking and gasping, fingers tight in his curls.
Peeta pulled his fingers out and lifted them up to suck them clean. Tiny pink streaks made him recoil. Katniss opened her eyes when she felt him move off the bed. "Hey, where're you going?"
"Your period came," he called out from the bathroom over the sound of the water running.
"What?" She rolled up off the bed and walked to the bathroom. "I couldn't hear you."
He turned off the water and reached for the towel. "Your period came when I was fingering you."
"Oh," she said, leaning back against the wall. "Do you still want to…"
His eyes met hers in the mirror. "You tell me."
She shrugged. "Doesn't matter to me, I can give you a blow job since you already got me off."
He shook his head. "It's not that big of deal."
Her eyes dropped to his cock, still semi-hard against his thigh. "Doesn't look like it's not a big deal."
"I don't have to come every time it gets hard, I'm not twelve," he said, leaning back against the counter. "I'm fine, it's fine."
She shook her head and went to the toilet. "If its fine then, could you give me some privacy so I can take care of this?"
He sighed. "My tongue's been inside there, but you're going to freak out if I watch you put a tampon in?"
"Fuck you," she snapped, reaching under the sink for the box of tampons. "Stay or go, I don't care anymore."
He gave her a measured look and spun on his heel, slamming the bathroom door behind him as he left her alone.
Katniss kicked the cabinet door shut and buried her face in her hands, fighting the hot, angry tears that pricked her eyes. Prim was right, she was a selfish bitch.
Peeta was sitting in the kitchen in his boxers when she finally came out of the bathroom, her robe wrapped tightly around her. She padded softly over to where he sat and pulled out the stool next to him, sliding onto it. "I'm sorry," she said softly, staring at her hands.
He sighed, turning just enough so that she could see him out of the corner of her eye. "I think we need to talk."
Her head jerked towards him, eyes wide as she stared at him. "Are you…are we done?"
He raked a hand through his hair. "I don't know, are we?"
Tears filled her eyes and she swiped angrily at them. "Why do I have to answer that? You're the one that said we needed to talk," she snarled.
He held up his hands in surrender. "Poor choice of words, but I can't keep doing this. Every time we take a step forward, you freak out and end up pushing me away and then we're ten steps backwards."
"This isn't all my fault," she snapped, reaching for a napkin and wiping her face, anger blooming hotly on her cheeks.
"No, I'm as much to blame as you are," he said wearily. "This is both of our faults and this pregnancy scare was just the straw that broke it wide open."
"You want me pregnant! It'd suit all your plans for our lives perfectly."
His cheeks flushed. "I'm not going to apologize for wanting a family, Katniss. Fuck me, I love you, I want to spend the rest of my life with you and have children with you! Why does that make me a monster in your eyes?"
"I don't want that life! Why can't you understand that?" She shouted back.
"I do understand it, haven't I been living by your rules for the last fucking year? I don't push you for more, I drive six damn hours every other weekend to spend a lousy day and a half with you. It's not enough anymore! I'm tired of waking up lonely, Katniss."
"Do you think it's easy on me either? I'm driving just as much as you are-"
He held up his hand. "These are your rules Katniss; you made them, I'm just the one forced to live by them."
She glared at him. "Fuck you, you sanctimonious prick! The only person forcing you into living by them is you. If they bothered you so fucking badly, why have you been doing it for the past year then, huh?"
"Because I love you, or have you forgotten that like you conveniently forgot," he held up his hands and made air quotes, "that you had a nightmare about me leaving and I told you that I'd love you until the day I fucking die? Jesus fucking Christ, Katniss! How much more do you want me to bend?"
"If you're that unhappy, why are you even here? I'm sure Glimmer wouldn't mind keeping your bed warm."
"Dragging up past sins? You really don't want to go there, sweetheart."
"Don't! Don't you dare fucking call me that!"
"What did they call you, the nameless fucks that you dragged into your bed to help forget about me? They weren't all nameless though, were they? Did Gloss call you sweetheart?"
She slapped him hard, her handprint a livid red against the paleness of his cheek. He laughed mirthlessly. "Right, I wasn't supposed to know about that, was I? Guess what Katniss? People fucking talk when you live in a small town, so I knew all about that one. Was it payback for Glimmer?"
"Fuck you, Peeta Mellark! So fucking perfect, but you were the one that cheated first, remember?" She rose from the stool and glared at him. "I'm done with this bullshit."
He spun his stool around, grabbing her elbow and jerking her around to face him. "Running away again?"
She glared at him, her eyes darting between his hand on her arm and his face. "Let me go or I will hurt you."
He snorted. "What, more than you already have? Take your best shot, sweetheart. You've already broken my heart and tromped on it like it was yesterday's trash."
"Take your hand off of my arm, Peeta or I swear-"
He jerked her closer. "Swear what, Katniss? Going to hit me? Go ahead, I dare you."
Her eyes narrowed to slits as she jerked free. "I hate you."
He rolled his eyes. "You can't hate me worse than I hate myself." Without giving her another glance, he stalked off down the hall, slamming her bedroom door behind him. She could hear the closet opening and she knew, without a doubt, she'd pushed him too far this time. Fat, hot tears spilled down her cheeks and she felt like she was going to puke, her knees nearly buckling as the door opened again.
Peeta walked down the hall, fully dressed, his bag in his hand. The look he gave her made her gut clench, so full of pain that her knees buckled and she fell to the floor, her hair falling around her like a shroud. "I love you, Katniss, more than life, but I can't live like this anymore. I thought I could but I'm not made of stone. I'm going to a hotel before we say something we can't take back. I'll text you and let you know where to find me."
She wasn't sure how long she'd been on the floor, but her knees felt like they'd been attacked with baseball bats and her eyes were so swollen from the tears she'd cried that she could barely see. Pushing herself up off the floor, she stumbled down the hall to the bathroom, cringing as she flipped on the light. Her eyes burned like crazy but she fought through the pain and made it to the tub, turning the water on before stripping off her robe and stepping into the enclosure. Bending down, she pulled up the lever for the shower and lifted her face as the spray drenched her.
She stayed in until the water turned icy, cursing as the spray needled into her body. She pushed back the curtain and stepped out, reaching for the towel hanging beside the shower. Her eyes fell on the empty pregnancy test box and a fresh wave of tears pricked her eyes. The hollow, empty ache that had been her constant companion all week was back, settled firmly beneath her breastbone.
Forcing herself to turn away from the box, she stared at her reflection in the mirror. "What a miserable fuck-up you've made of your life," she whispered brokenly. It was time to fix this, to let him go once and for all. She glanced back over at the box in the trashcan. A part of her that she thought had long been excised wept over what could've been. To see the physical manifestation of their love for each other, how would it have been? Would it have been blonde or brunette? Grey eyed or blue, or some unique combination all its own? Would it have her personality, or his? She sighed, reaching for her hairbrush and running it absently through her hair as she let herself fall deeper and deeper into the fantasy. His, of course. Hers was a fucking nightmare of paranoia and fear, buried behind an icy façade that kept out all but the most determined. Their child would be a miniature blonde haired little boy that looked at the world with wide eyed wonder. He'd be loving and open, just like his father, seeing the world at its best, rather than the way she did, with mistrust and waiting for the other shoe to fall. The illusion changed and Katniss saw Peeta and the beautiful little boy standing just beyond her. A blonde woman came into view and the smile on Peeta's face was the one that he normally reserved for her. Peeta turned and walked towards the woman, with his son in his arms, leaving Katniss behind. No matter how hard she pounded on the invisible wall between them or how much she screamed, he just kept walking until he finally slung his arm around the woman and they headed off into the ether.
The tears falling on her chest jerked her painfully out of it and the ache beneath her breastbone grew larger, feeling like it was swallowing her very soul. Wiping at the tears, she stared at herself in the mirror. She had to let him go to find someone that would make him happy.
Walking out of the bathroom, she went to find her phone, praying that he'd done as he'd said he would. When she pulled it out of her purse, she could see the notification. He'd sent it three hours ago. She dialed voicemail and waited impatiently for the message to queue, her heart in her throat.
"I'm at the motel 6 on Charleston. I'll stay here until nine am and then I'm driving home."
Katniss threw the phone onto the small table with her keys and ran back down the hallway towards her bedroom. She grabbed the first thing she found, a dark blue pair of sweats and an old ratty t-shirt, hastily braiding her hair as she slipped her feet into the pair of vans next to the bed. He'd seen her in worse, not by much though. Going to the desk, she dug around until she found a legal pad and ripped off a fresh page. Sitting cross legged on the floor, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath before starting to write, tears spilling down her cheeks with every word that flowed onto the page. When she was finished, she folded it up and stood up, rummaging through the desk for an envelope. Tucking the letter into the envelope, she wrote Peeta's name across it. A large tear splashed down onto the envelope, smearing the last letter a bit. Flipping the light off, she ran back down the hall and scooped up her phone and keys, dumping the phone into her bag as she pulled open the door, locking it behind her before racing down the short flight of stairs to her car.
Getting in, she pulled out her phone once more, pulling up the GPS and searching for the Motel 6 he'd said he was staying at. When the address popped up, she turned on the ignition and backed out of the drive, buckling her belt as she sped down the dark street.
She pulled into the lot and grabbed her phone, shoving it into her bag as she stepped out of the car, locking it behind her. The office was brightly lit even at three am. She pulled open the door and winced as the bell jingled merrily. A sleepy looking clerk stood up from behind the counter. "Help you?"
"Yeah, my boyfriend checked in her a few hours ago, Peeta Mellark?"
The clerk turned to his computer and began typing. "Mellark? One l or two?"
"Two," she said, turning around and glancing over the parking lot. She saw his truck parked over by the end of the building and her heartbeat slowed just a bit as relief washed over her. She wasn't too late. "I need to know what room he's in?"
The guy frowned at her. "Um, I can't give you the room number, that's against the rules."
Katniss leaned over the counter. "We had a fight and it was all my fault. I can't leave it like this between us. Can't you just tell me the room number, please? I have to apologize."
The guy shook his head. "Sorry Miss, I could lose my job if you're some nutso trying to get even." He held up his hands as her eyes narrowed. "Look, I'm not accusing you of anything, but it's three am and you look…"
Katniss rolled her eyes and pulled out her phone, pulling up the text Peeta sent, shoving the phone towards the clerk. "Look, he sent me a message telling me where he was. I'm not looking to cause trouble; I just have to talk to him before he leaves."
"Sorry, policy says I can't. I can call his room, ask him to come here and meet you."
Katniss shook her head. "Nevermind. Just give him this, okay?" She handed over the envelope with shaky hands.
The clerk took it. "I'll make sure he gets it in the morning."
She turned to go and the clerk's voice stopped her as her hand curled around the doorhandle. "Who should I say it's from?"
Katniss closed her eyes and took a deep breath before turning back to the clerk. "He'll know." Tears pricked her eyes and she blinked rapidly, fighting them back. If she didn't get the hell out of her now, she'd never be able to leave. She palmed the door handle, easing it open slowly and stepping outside. Spinning on her heel, she raced across the parking lot to where her car was, digging into her purse as she ran for her keys. Finally pulling them out, she unlocked the door and slid into the car, the tears she'd fought so hard against finally spilling free. Glancing back at the hotel she'd just left her heart in, she sobbed brokenly. "I'm sorry, Peeta. So sorry," she whispered as she pulled out of the parking lot. Reaching for her phone, she pressed the speed dial, speaking as soon as they answered. "I'm on my way to the airport, what airline do you have me on?"
"You have a letter."
Peeta looked up from the receipt the clerk handed him and frowned. "What?"
The clerk reached into the box of cubicles behind him and pulled out a thin, white envelope. "Some lady came in last night and left this for you."
Peeta's frown deepened. "She didn't say anything else, just left the letter?"
"She looked pretty upset, like she'd been crying."
Peeta pulled out his phone but there was no message notification or missed call notification. His heart clenched painfully. She'd run –again. "Okay, thanks."
He walked out to his truck and got inside, staring at the letter. His name was written on the front, the last letter smeared by what looked like a tear stain. His stomach churned with nausea and he wasn't sure which hurt worse, the fact that she was gone again, or that she'd written him a letter to tell him. Opening the envelope, he pulled out the sheet of legal paper and unfolded it.
I know that reading this isn't what you wanted, but it was the only way that I could tell you everything I needed to say without crying and getting into another fight. I've hurt you so badly, when all you did was love me. Words cannot express how sorry I am for that, but you knew, you knew I couldn't handle any more than I could give you. You deserve so much more than a broken woman who can't even keep herself together. You deserve love and happiness and joy and I left because I know you can find them, you need to find them. You are so good, so giving and loving that I cannot deny a child that love. If anyone was made to be a parent, Peeta, it's you. You love so unselfishly, it's beautiful to see. You are so full of love that it literally shines.
I'm leaving the country, going to a place where I know I can at the very least do some good with my life. I will love you until the day I die. I lied when I told you I didn't remember you saying that because I couldn't handle just how much you make me feel. You'll always be a part of me.
I love you