My apologies for neglecting this little collection of vignettes for so long! That said, time for Peeta to get a little dirty...

Part 3 Summary: Katniss finds Peeta on the verge of a hijacking flashback in his bakery. She talks him down, and sexy times ensue.

Soundtrack for this update: "One Rainy Wish" by the incomparable Mr. Jimi Hendrix

Part 4- Peeta's Plum Trees and Orgasmic Epiphanies

After a hard day of baking at my shop, I should have been exhausted, and I was. Don't laugh, baking uses all the core muscles. Hundred pound sacks of flour don't move themselves, and kneading and stirring for hours on end, does wonders for toning the upper body. Hell, maybe I should do a baker's exercise video and have Plutarch run it on the United Panem Food Network. He'd just love that, a former victor willingly going on camera. I grinned to myself at the image of an ecstatic Plutarch directing me in a cooking show. My amusement faded quickly as the dark musings that had been haunting me of late crept in again.

I'd been on the verge of a hijacking episode just two nights ago when Katniss found me in the floor of the bakery kitchen bloodied, and well, truthfully, serial killer creepy. And what had she done? That wonderful, courageous, selfless woman had allowed me to make mind-blowing love to her after she got me out of my scary, dark place. I owed her for that. So many things I owed Katniss, that I could never begin to repay. That's why I was out in our backyard in Victor's Village, digging in the dirt this late Spring evening. The first step of my grand plan for the empty space between the garden and the tool shed was underway.

Effie, of all people, had been a huge help in forwarding my project. At my request, she'd talked to a famous chef friend of hers in the Capitol and determined which kind of plum was in the lamb stew that Katniss loved so much in the first games. We have so many bad memories from those days, but I think this is a good one for both of us- cozy in our cave eating our care-package Haymitch had finagled from some generous sponsor. Both of us had almost died in the last few hours before that. Nothing like almost dying to make a person appreciate the little things like delicious, hot lamb stew with plums and wild rice. I could almost taste it on my tongue with the memory. Weird that. Some memories were so clear in my jumbled brain, yet others were just as mixed up as the stew. I shrugged away the unhappy thoughts.

Katniss had been gone since before daybreak, hunting and gathering in the woods. The call came to the bakery from the train station manager around 10 o'clock this morning. My 4 heirloom plum trees would be on the 3 o'clock train from District 11. Rue's district. That brought a whole other set of painful memories.

I stabbed my spade into the loamy soil with a little more force than was necessary. I had three holes dug already. With any luck I'd have the trees in the ground before Katniss came home. She'd probably take the indirect route and go into town first to share her game, especially if she'd had a productive day in the woods.

Even in the early evening, the slanting rays of the sun were warm on my back. I shed my t-shirt, which was sticking to me uncomfortably, using it to wipe the sweat from my face and neck. I gave an irritated tug at my work trousers, which seemed to be riding low on my hips today, since I'd forgotten to put on a belt. I could imagine Haymitch complaining about seeing a white moon rising if he saw me thus. I chuckled to myself as I leaned into my work once more. The physical labor felt good. The muscles of my back and shoulders burned with the each repetitive thrust of the shovel into the earth.

Forty-five minutes later, I was dropping the fourth tree into its respective hole, when Katniss ambled silently up behind me- causing me to practically jump from my own skin when her hands trailed over my bare back to rest at my shoulders as she rasped in her low, melodic voice, "Well, hello there, shirtless stranger. What's all this?"

I turned sheepishly, like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and I should know, being a baker and all, "Uh. It's a surprise for you," I stated lamely, gesturing to the trees with my dirt incrusted hands.

Katniss' silvery eyes shifted from my now red face to the saplings to study them with her usual intensity, "Hmmm... I don't recognize them. They are some kind of fruit tree?"

"Exactly. Plum trees," I smiled with pleasure before running my hand through my hair in a nervous habit I had, momentarily forgetful of the mud and grime I was now rubbing into my hair.

Katniss laughed huskily and reached up to tousle my hair and presumably get some of the dirt out, "Plum trees?"

"I called Effie, and got her to find out what kind of plum was in the stew you loved so much when we were... in the Capitol. Turns out it's a very old variety of an heirloom plum. She reached out to a chef friend of hers, and well..." I gestured to the partially planted trees, "Here we are. Four plum trees of our very own."

"Peeta," Katniss took a step up to me, wrapping her arms loosely around my neck, careful not to end up in the hole I'd dug for the tree, "That is so... thoughtful. What did I ever do to deserve you?"

I felt my face burn even hotter as a flush stole up my neck that had nothing to do with the exertion of digging holes and planting the trees, "I wonder that myself sometimes, Katniss, though not in the way you mean. I talked to Dr. Aurelius today..."

I cast a glance down at our bodies, so close to each other. How could she just wrap herself around me like this, knowing what she knew about me? I'd like to think that I wouldn't have hurt her the other night in the bakery, if she hadn't intervened and things had gone badly. It was the niggling doubt that I might have done harm to the woman I loved more than my own life that tormented me, waking me up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat for the last two nights.

"Hey, come back," she ordered softly, leaning her face close to mine, forcing me to look up and meet her eyes, "And how is our mutual friend?"

I shrugged my shoulders, "Fine. Concerned but fine."

Katniss scoffed lightly, "It's his job to be concerned. He can only nap so many hours of the day, I guess."

"Katniss..." I reached down to take her hands, unmindful of my grubby, soil covered fingers, "He wants me to increase my sessions with him for a while. He doesn't think the..." I swallowed reflexively, "...the other night should be ignored and possibly create bigger problems in the future. He said it could have just been a minor back-slide brought on by the blood, but he thinks we need to be proactive."

"Do what you think is best, Peeta, but you've been fine for many months, years even. You had an off night," Katniss leaned into me until her pelvis was pressed firmly into mine, with no space between us now, and grinned mischievously up at me, "Well, not completely off. Some of the most amazing sex. Ever. You are dangerous, Peeta Mellark, but not in the way Dr. Aurelius is concerned about."

I let out a gusty sigh, "Katniss, this is serious. I could not... would not live with myself, if I hurt you, especially now. It would destroy me."

Katniss released my hands and moved to place her palms on either side of my jaw, studying me, "You did not hurt me. I don't think you ever would have. You just had a dark time there for a bit. Completely understandable given your cut and the blood. It brought some things back, that's all."

"No!" I vehemently shook my head, suddenly angry- at what, I wasn't sure, "Don't do that. Don't make excuses for me, Katniss. I need to- I don't know, control it. I thought I was until two nights ago."

"You did, and you do," she replied staunchly, looking at me with sparks snapping in her gray eyes, "If more sessions with Dr. Aurelius will make you feel better, then go ahead, but I don't think for a second that you would ever hurt me. Now, let me see your hand. I bet you got dirt in your cut, which isn't completely healed, you silly man."

She reached for my injured hand, and tore at the grubby bandage that was already falling off my palm. She tsked in irritation, "Peeta, the bandage is filthy, and there's dirt in the cut. We should clean this right away. It could get infected."

She tugged me by my wrist to the hose I'd attached to the faucet at the back of the house in preparation for watering the new trees. Grasping the nozzle in her hand, she squeezed the trigger sending a sudden forceful blast onto my palm and splattering us both with cold water.

I gave a startled gasp as the glacial droplets hit the heated skin of my naked chest and stomach, feeling the prickle of goose bumps as I recoiled, "Hey, that's cold!"

Not liking the evil grin on Katniss' face, I took another step back, as her eyes roved over my bare sweat and dirt covered torso, "Really? Well, you are kind of dirty, so I think you'll have to be hosed down before you go in the house."

"Don't you dare," I stood my ground.

She actually laughed, "Oh, I dare." She pointed the hose nozzle at me and pulled the trigger, soaking me in the seconds it took me to recover and lurch at her.

The nozzle fell from her hand and hit the ground pointing up still spraying upward at us, as I grabbed her and held her tightly to my now wet, shivering body. She squealed, "Peeta! You're so cold and wet."

"No kidding, see how you like it. Spray me with the hose, and this is what happens," I rubbed my cool, wet body against hers playfully.

We were both laughing so hard we couldn't even manage to move away from the still spraying nozzle quickly enough, ending with us both soaked to the skin. Katniss had her back against the wall of the house, as she pushed a few loose tendrils of wet hair that escaped her braid from her face and looked up at me. We were both breathing hard, our chests touching with each exhalation. Abruptly, playfulness turned to lust, as we stood transfixed, blinking at each other in the fading light.

I reached out with my now mostly clean, dripping wet hands to angle her jaw and capture her mouth in a melting kiss. I felt more than heard my own name come out in a pant against my lips, as I pressed her into the brick wall to deepen the kiss. Against my bare chest I could feel Katniss' warm skin through her damp shirt, her hard, taut nipples brushing against me through the clinging layers of her clothing. I groaned and reflexively ground against her as her hands found their way to my bare hips, just above the low waist of my trousers.

I trailed kisses across her dewy jaw and downward to nuzzle at the side of her neck. She smelled of the forest and the heady musk that was Katniss. My fingers clenched at the back of her head, "Katniss, I need you. Let's go inside."

I drew back a little, intending to go into the house, but she pulled me against her once more, saying, "No. Now."

Confused I took in her blazing eyes and flushed cheeks, "What? Here? Haymitch or anyone could see us."

"It's almost dark, and I think it's going to rain. Besides, there're empty woods behind us, and I went by Haymitch's on my way home. He's already passed out on his couch, so there's no one around to see."

I expelled a breath, fighting for control, I moved to pick her up and carry her, but she was agile and so flexible. With a little leap she wound her legs around my torso, ankles locked at my back, pushing my pants even lower on my hips as she pressed herself against my lower abdomen.

"Love me, Peeta," she intoned breathily at my ear, "I want to see my new trees when I take you inside me."

To further her argument, she undulated her hips against me, and I swear, even through our clothing, I could feel her warm, moist core pressing into my straining fly. Then I felt the first cool drop of rain hit my shoulder, "Katniss, it is starting to rain. How in the hell do you do that anyway? We should go in. We'll be soaked."

"We're already wet. Help me," she ordered petulantly as she hopped down to quickly remove her boots and shuck her wet trousers down her thighs. I knelt to pull them off her ankles and on my return trip up her body, my fingers hooked at the edge of her panties, pulling them down as I trailed wet kisses up the cool skin of her bare thighs. The panties gone, my tongue flicked out to lick her sweet center nestled in the closely cropped curls between her legs. She let out a soft moan at this, encouraging me to suckle lightly at her sensitive nub, as she buried her fingers in my damp hair and pressed me to her core. I devoured her with my mouth, as she thrust against me. I didn't stop until she was trembling and leaning heavily against the wall behind her.

She tugged at my sodden locks to pull me up for another deep kiss, as her fingers fluttered down my bared chest and still lower to linger briefly over the slim trail of hair on my lower abdomen above the button of my pants. With a sudden flick, the button was undone and the rasp of my zipper echoed loudly through the quiet patter of the rain falling around us. Her eager hands pushed the heavy wet fabric of my pants down my hips and thighs until it pooled around my calves. God. We were actually going to do this.

My hands came up to palm her breasts which were as good as naked through her now rain spattered shirt and thin bra. I lightly pinched her erect nipples between my fingers and thumbs. I hardly recognized my low groaning voice as I rumbled, "Katniss... I-I want you so much."

Lifting one of her legs and wrapping it around my hip, she grasped my shoulders and stood on her toes to press her naked folds against the erection straining under the thin cotton of my underwear, "And I want you too, Peeta."

So, here we were in our rainy backyard. Naked. Okay, mostly naked. A part of me was appalled at our depravity, while another part was supremely turned on. I was about to make love to my wife, who years ago, could barely kiss me in front of... well, most of Panem, but still... How far we had come.

"Peeta?" her husky murmur jolted me out of my musings, her eyes smoky and dark in the failing daylight as they bore into mine, urging me to take what we both wanted so desperately.

"Katniss..." I replied on a gasp, my control snapping like a dry twig. Beyond caring who might see, I pressed her against the brick wall of our house. With jerky movements I sent my shorts to join my pants at my feet, freeing my pulsing dick, before grabbing her thigh at my hip and hoisting her higher, entering her in one violent thrust, "Ungh, so ready...for... me. Just for me."

Wrapping her legs around me tightly, she locked her fingers behind my head to pull me toward her and place open-mouthed kisses along my jaw and upward to my panting lips, before muttering against them, "A-always. Ohhh... You feel so... so..." she hissed out a breath, as I thrust into her warm depths again,"...good."

I trailed my shaking palms down her sides to clasp her buttocks in my hands, in an effort to spare her the abrasiveness of the wall at her back. Her shirt was protecting her somewhat, yet, even in my hazy rush of arousal, I feared for the sensitive skin of her backside. I pulled her into my thrusts which had the double effects of offering her some protection while deepening our joining.

Loosening her arms, she arched her back to meet my thrusts, circling her hips in a way that was almost my undoing. In desperation to increase her pleasure, I bent my head to suckle at her nipples through her rain-drenched shirt, warming her cooling skin with my mouth.

I was rewarded by her soft, keening cry of my name, as the rhythm of her hips stuttered at her approaching climax. I felt the answering tug in my groin. Standing with the rain dripping from us, I felt the sudden, blinding clarity that only impending orgasms bring. This woman had laid down her life for me more than once, and I had done and would do the same for her without hesitation. I would do everything I could to protect her. We were the star-crossed lovers of District 12, who had defied death more than once to find our way back to one another. The fact that this was real overtook me just as the shuddering euphoria of my climax roared through me like a freight train.

I realized I must have expressed some part of my thoughts aloud when I heard Katniss answer me in a fervid whisper before coming apart in my arms, "Yes, Peeta. Real."

I do hope you enjoyed dirty, wet Peeta. I sure did. Reviews much appreciated! Please, let me know your thoughts.