Hey guys... I am soooooo sorry! I hope this chapter is worth the time I made you wait for it!
A big sloppy thank you kiss to the lovely Court81981 who is not only my writing life force, but who also got this back to me so quickly that I was able to update tonight! Also you guys really need to check out her story 'The Seam' (which is amazing and may have been a bday present for yours truly)
And also thank you to all the kind people (Especially: Pookieh, Catchtherye, Vitsignat and Survivewithoutanyone) who sent me lovely messages encouraging me while I had the worst case of writer's fatigue EVER...
AND I'd like to dedicate this chapter to Honeylime08 for being her generous, selfless and perfect self! :)
"Kaaat!" Katniss is startled by a shrill whine that invades her ears, and she grunts her disapproval. When she doesn't hear anything else, she decides it was a dream and settles herself again. The warmth of Peeta's arm wrapped around her waist pulls her close to him, lulling her back to sleep.
"Kat," the voice stabs at her eardrums again. "Damn it," it growls. "Wake up and pay attention to me."
Katniss groans. "What, Jo?" Her throat is scratchy with sleep, her eyes barely opening, but she can see her friend climbing into bed with her and Peeta, a panicked look on her face.
Johanna lies down facing away from her, grabbing Katniss's hand to wrap around her, forcing Katniss to become the big spoon.
"I have a problem," Jo whispers. Katniss doesn't say anything, allowing her to continue. "Remember Madge Undersee?" Her voice carries an edge.
Madge Undersee was Katniss's roommate in vet school and, more importantly, Gale Hawthorne's girlfriend until the three of them graduated and Madge took an internship in New York City.
"What about her?" Katniss asks.
"She's the new radiology doctor at Mockingjay," she answers sadly.
"Oh, how did you find this out?"
"Because I caught her and Gale 'talking,' " she spits the word out like venom, causing Katniss to cringe.
Katniss is too groggy to think of anything supportive to say, and her morning bladder demands her attention.
"Well I have to pee." When she tries to push Johanna off the bed, she doesn't budge resulting in Katniss having to extract herself from between the two people in her bed. It's then she realizes she is still completely naked, but when there is nothing to cover herself with, she uses her arms to cover up as much as she can, although Johanna seems disinterested.
"We'll talk when I get back." She turns to Johanna as her feet hit the wooden floor "And don't you dare wake up Peeta," she warns. "I don't think he normally sleeps this well," she adds.
After finishing her business in the bathroom, splashing some water onto her face and into her parched mouth, she grabs her robe from the back of the door and returns to her bedroom just in time to watch as a still sleeping Peeta reaches out and pulls himself closer to Johanna.
Johanna lets out a small surprised gasp, but manages to keep quiet. Katniss has to bite her lip and cover her mouth to keep from laughing out loud as Peeta begins to nuzzle his face into Johanna's neck.
"Mmmm." He sighs.
"Hi, Blondie." Johanna coos seductively, causing his eyes to fly open.
"Shit," he gasps as he scrambles away from a cackling Johanna, and he nearly falls off the edge of the bed.
"For Christ's sakes, Johanna," Katniss scolds but has to bite her lip again to prevent a smile from taking over her face. Peeta looks up to Katniss with groggy eyes, looking for answers.
"Well I guess I don't have to ask you how big he is," she grins at Katniss, "since I could feel his monster cock poking my ass."
"Oh my god," Peeta grumbles before throwing his head into his hands, and Katniss can see a dark shade of red color his ears and neck.
"Johanna," she sighs. "Get out."
"But what about my problem?" Johanna whines.
"Go into the other room. I'll be out there to talk with you soon," she says firmly pointing to the bedroom door. Her friend obeys, but before she walks out the door she turns.
"Peeta, you come too. I need a guy's perspective."
"Jo!" Katniss snaps, her friend raises her hands in surrender and scurries quickly out of the room.
"I am so sorry," Katniss exclaims as she approaches Peeta on the bed, but a chuckle escapes her. "She is nuts."
"It's ok." Peeta begins chuckling with her.
She starts crawling towards him; his cheeks are still tinged pink, but his eyes become cloudy when her robe pops open, her breasts now visible to him.
"I wish that wasn't what we had to wake up to," she says in a soft, sultry voice. She watches Peeta's tongue come out to wet his lips.
"Yeah...that was..." but he leaves the sentence hanging, and instead grabs Katniss and flips her so her back presses into the mattress as he climbs on top of her, claiming her lips for a chaste kiss before moving his mouth down her cheek.
"Last night was amazing," he mumbles against her jaw, and she can feel goosebumps spread across her whole body when she thinks of the feel of him inside of her and his admission right before they fell asleep.
I love you too. His words play over and over again in her head and suddenly she can't keep from grinning madly. She wonders if they should talk about it now. Should she say it again? Should he? But her train of thought is derailed when he growls into her ear.
"I want to be inside of you right now." The raspiness of his voice makes her stomach twist, and her thighs clench together. She bucks her hips, knocking them against his hardening erection, showing him she wants the same.
"You guys!" they hear from the other room. "You can fuck after you listen to my problems."
Peeta groans loudly and rolls off of Katniss, as she eyes his cock longingly, biting the inside of her cheek to distract herself from the throbbing ache between her legs.
A few minutes later the two have reluctantly dressed themselves, and they walk into the living room. Johanna has already brewed coffee and is polishing off a container of Katniss's coconut-flavored Greek yogurt. Katniss walks over to the refrigerator and retrieves a bottle of water for her and Peeta before moving to sit next to Johanna on the couch. Peeta takes the recliner across from them.
"So what's going on?" Katniss asks as she curls her legs underneath her. Johanna throws her head into her hands and recounts the whole ordeal, all the way up until the look of elation on Gale's face as he spoke to his ex-girlfriend, while Johanna hid out of sight. When she is done talking, she looks to both Peeta and Katniss, her large brown eyes wider than usual, as she looks more scared than Katniss has ever seen her. But Peeta is the first to chime in.
"I mean it's obvious to anyone who sees you guys that you two are in love with each other." At Peeta's words, Katniss perks up. After all, aren't they in love with each other? Was it obvious to the people around them? Katniss is pulled from her thoughts by Johanna's sardonic snort.
"Yeah, right," she waves Peeta off in disbelief. He sighs before trying again.
"It's probably nothing," he tells her reassuringly, but her eyes have already glassed over and she seems to be staring a million miles away. Katniss shakes her head in frustration, but then the image of a tall, gorgeous, redhead jumps into her head. She tries to reassure herself, that Peeta would never think of getting back together with his ex, Lavinia, but she can sympathize with Johanna in this moment, as her thoughts cause a lump to form in her gut. She knows what her friend has to do.
"Will you just go and talk to your boyfriend?" Katniss insists.
"He's not my boyfriend," Johanna hisses back. Katniss catches Peeta's confused look and rolls her eyes.
"For fuck's sakes, Johanna, Gale is in love with you and you are in love with Gale, and I don't care about your dumb ass commitment issues because he's your boyfriend. You guys are dating. Will you just accept that? You two do this every time one of you so much as looks at someone else, but it's all pointless worry because you two only want to be with each other."
"But that's the thing, Kat," her friend sounds defeated. "You didn't see the way he was looking at her." The tone of her voice makes Katniss' stomach drop.
Johanna leaves the apartment about an hour later, Katniss can tell that her friend feels no more at ease than when she arrived. The melancolia she brought with her lingers in the apartment, effectively killing the couple's earlier mood.
Peeta goes to leave a short time later, needing to get back to the shop. At the door, he grabs Katniss's arms and pushes her against the wall, his mouth presses firmly into hers, his hands pin her arms above her head.
"Let's not go that long without being together again, ok?" he pleads against her lips. In this moment, Katniss knows she would agree to anything, and she nods in response, her lips brushing lightly against his before she claims them once more.
After a while they pull apart, breathless. Peeta pulls back and looks into her eyes.
"I have to go now, or I never will," he admits regretfully. Katniss sees some sort of indecision flash across his eyes, but before she can figure out what it is he leans forward and places a gentle kiss on her mouth. "Bye," he whispers.
"Bye," she echoes. They stare at each other for a long moment, and those three little words are on the tip of her tongue, and she wonders if his hesitancy is because they are on his as well, but instead he kisses her once on the forehead and walks away.
Katniss is about to close the door when the vision of Johanna, her face sad and her eyes filled with uncertainty, pops into her head, and she is not sure why she is holding back.
"Peeta!" she calls down the hall after swinging her door open again. When he turns to face her, her mouth opens, but again the words get caught in her throat. With the exception of her family she has never consciously said these words to anyone else. She has never felt this kind of love before.
Peeta waits patiently, but when she doesn't speak she can see a smile tug on the corners of his mouth.
"I love you," he calls back to her, and then a shy laugh escaped him and he looks down. Katniss's cheeks hurt from how wide her smile becomes.
"I love you too," she says back, causing him to look up and meet her gaze again.
"If I come back there, I'm going to take you back inside, and then I'm going to be late," he admits. Katniss chuckles.
"And I have to work in a few hours," she adds. But neither one of them moves, and she can see the look in his eyes intensify from here.
"Fuck it," he mumbles before stalking back towards her. "I need you," he tells her when he is in front of her. He picks her up and throws her over his shoulder, while Katniss squeals and laughs with surprise. Peeta then opens her apartment door, walks in and closes it loudly behind him.
Katniss shows up to work earlier than usual that afternoon, in a great mood, after her steamy encore with Peeta. She grabs a butternut donut from the Dunkin Donuts box in the surgery office, and then walks over to emergency, hoping she can catch Gale before he leaves.
As she approaches Gale's office, she hears a familiar giggle pierce the air around her, and her stomach begins to knot. She walks through the office forcefully, and feels immediate relief when she finds Gale and Madge an appropriate distance away from each other.
Madge sits practically reclined in Gale's office swivel chair, while Gale stands leaning against the wall. The blonde holds a capped ball-point pen between her teeth, her laughter sneaking past her full lips, while Gale beams at her, his charcoal eyes wide and bright.
"Hey," Katniss alerts them to her presence. Gale looks to her with a start, but Madge turns quickly and squeals with delight.
"Kat!" she jumps out of her chair and wraps her arms around Katniss, squeezing her tightly. "Oh my god, how are you? Gale told me you were here! I've missed you." Katniss can smell the strawberry-scented shampoo in the women's pinned up, platinum hair, and wonders if it's the same brand she used in college.
"I've missed you too," she admits, but then feels immediately guilty. She shouldn't feel guilty, of course; Madge was her friend and roommate for two years. She has never harbored any ill feelings towards her, and they parted ways on very friendly terms, but Johanna is one of her best friends, and this situation just seems a little too shady for her liking. But instead of pulling away like she wants to, she looks up at Gale, who watches their embrace.
"So what are you guys doing?" she keeps her voice upbeat, for Madge's sake, but levels Gale with a stare that she is sure gets her current ire for him across. He raises an eyebrow at her.
"Oh, we were just talking about the foreign body surgery that came in this morning," Madge offers as she pulls away from Katniss. "Golden retriever. Guess what he swallowed!" The blonde can barely contain herself. Katniss just shrugs. "The owner's checkbook!" she spits out before laughing loudly. Katniss glances up at Gale and finds him grinning towards Madge.
"So then," Madge continues. "When Gale brought out the Ziploc bag with the checkbook in it out to the owner, he said…" she spins and looks to him, "Tell her what you said." He opens his mouth to speak, but she cuts him off. "He said, 'You can make checks payable to Mockingjay Animal Hospital'" Madge does her best to mimic the deep timber of Gale's voice, then both of them are laughing again, and it's like nothing has changed between the two.
"Where's Johanna?" Katniss cuts through their laughter like a scalpel. "Was she the tech on the case?" she asks knowing full well she was at her apartment this morning. Katniss watches Gale's eyes widen for a moment.
"Who's Johanna?" Madge asks, looking between them.
"She's…" Gale begins.
"...Gale's girlfriend," Katniss finishes for him.
"Oh, I didn't know you were dating anyone," Madge adds, and a long silence amongst the three follows her words.
"Jesus Christ, Catnip," Gale barks suddenly. "Did any of that damn donut make it into your mouth." She looks down and finds that the half of a butternut donut that she walked in with has been effectively crumbled over her black t-shirt. Madge begins to chuckle next to her.
"Well that's our Kat, still an offensive eater." She smiles warmly at both of them. "Well, I should be getting back, but I'll see you both Friday, yeah?" she adds, and Katniss' head snaps to Gale.
"Friday?" she asks him in a hushed tone
"Uh, yeah, I told Madge she should join us."
"Yes I can't wait to meet this sexy baker of yours," Madge giggles, and Katniss can feel a mixture of embarrassed and angry heat climb up her neck.
"Yeah, it should be a good time," Katniss says on the exhale of a forced breath.
"Alright, bye you two," the pretty blonde says with a wave and walks out of the office. The door hasn't even clicked shut when Katniss has turned back to Gale.
"What the fuck was that, Gale?" she hisses.
"Oh fuck, Catnip. It's not like that. She just doesn't know anyone."
"The fuck it was nothing. Well, she already knows you pretty well, huh?" She watches Gale's jaw clamp shut and his eyes narrow.
"I told you it wasn't like that."
"What does Johanna think about her coming?"
"I..uh…" he stumbles. "I haven't told her yet." Katniss lets out a mirthless laugh. "And she won't care. That's not how she is," he adds defiantly.
"Maybe it's time to check in with her." Katniss says in a measured tone, before turning on her heel and storming out of his office, brushing crumbs off her shirt as she goes.
Katniss walks into the busy Boston Beer Works Friday night. She scans the tables in the crowded restaurant, looking for Peeta, who just sent her a text letting her know he was the first to arrive but was able to get a table.
She finally spots him at a table for eight next to the large glass wall that looks out onto the busy city street. Just a moment after she finds him, he lifts his head, his eyes drawn to hers, and when they meet, she feels her heart stutter in her chest, and she can't help the smile that spreads across her face, and suddenly the voices and clamoring around her cease to exist.
Katniss moves quickly towards him, and when she reaches Peeta, he is already standing, his arms outstretched waiting to collect her into his embrace.
"Peeta," she sighs against his chest when she can finally feel him around her.
"Hey you," he whispers into her hair. "I missed you." And even though they saw each other just two days prior, she shares his sentiment, and when she pulls back and finds his cerulean eyes gazing into hers she can't keep her mouth off of his any longer.
Her lips pulse when they touch the heat of his, and a muffled sigh leaves her mouth and enters his. Her hands come up to clench the front of his shirt that's colored in a shade close to that of his eyes.
"Jesus, Catnip, want me to have them clear out the restaurant?"
She mumbles a few swears under her breath as she pulls away from Peeta and turns to find Gale, Johanna and Madge staring back at her. Gale and Madge wear smirks on their faces, but Johanna is chewing on her thumbnail and looking intently at the floor.
"Shut the fuck up, Gale," Katniss groans back, causing both him and Madge to laugh out loud.
She quickly introduces Peeta to Madge, and while the two of them and Gale make small talk she moves over to Johanna. Katniss tugs her friend's hand away from her face and makes Johanna look her in the eye. She can see the red veins in the white of her eyes from either crying or lack of sleep. She doesn't bother to ask if Johanna is ok, because she knows she's not, but instead she squeezes her hand letting her know she is there for her.
The five of them take a seat. Peeta and Katniss sit next to each other on one side of the table, while Johanna, Gale, and Madge sit on the opposite side.
"Where are Finn and Annie?" Peeta asks when everyone is settled.
"They decided last minute to go visit Annie's family this weekend," Johanna says with a half hearted shrug.
"So Peeta," Madge jumps in. "I hear you wooed our little Kat here with pastries."
Katniss's eyes immediately shift over to Johanna and finds her looking back mouthing the word our at her.
"Ah," Peeta rubs the back of his neck. "In her defense my pastries have won a few awards," he says with a small grin, which causes Madge to giggle. Katniss has to bite her bottom lip when she feels his hand slide onto her thigh.
"Oh Kat, I like him," She smiles at Katniss then turns and pokes Gale in the arm with a finger. "Remember that absolutely dreadful double-date we went on with Katniss and that guy...Seneca? Was that it?" She looks back to Katniss for affirmation.
"Uh...I don't remember," she mumbles
"Oh fuck, Catnip, of course you remember, god that guy was such a douche," he chides. "Remember his elaborate facial hair?" he directs back at Madge, who is barely keeping it together.
"Oh god yes, and he wouldn't stop talking about his fantasy football league," she spits out before she dissolves into hysterical laughter again.
Normally Katniss would have laughed right along with them; the date was disastrous, the night saved only by the fact that Madge and Gale were there to share looks and roll eyes with, but Katniss can see the way Johanna's fists have balled up and her jaw has clenched at their banter, and so Katniss puts a scowl in her face instead.
"Why would you bring that up?" she snaps. "It was one date." Gale gives her a curious look, but Madge's face falls right away, and she looks quickly to Peeta.
"Oh god, Peeta, she's right," she blurts out, misinterpreting Katniss's irritation. "It really was only that one date. He didn't even get a good night kiss. Hell, we drove her home." Peeta smiles kindly at Madge, but squeezes Katniss's thigh, and she knows he gets it.
The night continues much in the same way. Gale and Madge forcibly take the rest of the table down memory lane, while Johanna remains alarmingly quiet, leaving Katniss and Peeta to try to guide the conversation back to something less volatile, that is until Peeta's hand begins to venture under her black skirt, and when the tips of his fingers graze against her panties, made wet by his touch, she loses track of what's going on with the rest of the table all together.
She turns her head to meet Peeta's eyes and finds him staring back at her. As his fingers rhythmically move against the material that covers her clit, she finds she needs to open her mouth slightly to bring in enough air, as she keeps her eyes on his.
Every once in awhile she can hear a giggle from Madge or a guffaw from Gale, indicating they don't miss her or Peeta's input, but otherwise she is completely lost in this moment with this gorgeous man next to her, this man who she is completely and utterly in love with.
She can feel her cheeks flush, and her breath pick up, and her teeth sink into her bottom lip to stop her from moaning out loud. She is ready to drag Peeta into the bathroom with her so that her fingers can dig into his skin as she screams his name while riding out her impending orgasam, but instead the sound of a metal chair dragging against the floor pulls her attention away from Peeta.
Johanna is standing, her face twisted into a grimace, her eyes narrowed.
"I'm leaving," she states before quickly turning and storming out of the restaurant. For a second the rest of them are left stunned, but Katniss is the first to get out of her seat to chase her friend down. However Peeta reaches out to stop her, gesturing with his head towards Gale, who has just gotten out of his seat and is on his way out of the restaurant as well.
The three of them sit there in an awkward silence, while Katniss mentally chastises herself for not being more present for her friend.
"There they are," Peeta points out out the window. Johanna is stalking up the street, but Gale is right behind her. No sound penetrates the glass wall, but it is obvious that he is calling out to her.
Johanna takes a few more steps before spinning around to face him, then they begin to take turns yelling at each other, arms flailing. At one point, Gale's hands thrust into his slightly-graying black hair, and he tugs it in frustration.
The argument continues, and Katniss's stomach begins churning, and her teeth begin worrying her bottom lip, and she wishes she could hear what they were saying.
Finally Johanna throws her hands into the air and turns to leave again, but Gale doesn't let her get away, instead he grabs her arm and twirls her back towards him. Katniss thinks he's going to start yelling again, but he yanks her body to him and presses his lips into hers. The kiss is violent and passionate, and Katniss can see Johanna's body begin to sag into his, and it is now her fingers that are in his hair. Katniss can hear Madge give a low whistle from behind her.
"Gale Hawthorne never kissed me like that," she says almost in awe, and Katniss can't help smiling.
Gale finally pulls away and Katniss can tell both of them are winded, but even though Gale is breathing hard and his voice can't be heard, it is very clear what his next words are.
I love you.
"Gale Hawthorne never said that to me either," Madge adds a moment later, and Katniss can clearly hear the hurt in her voice, and she begins to feel a little sorry for her former roommate and friend.
When Johanna enthusiastically says it back, Katniss can feels Peeta's fingers entwine with hers. When she looks his way, she finds his eyes are sparkling, and there is an almost shy smile on his face.
It is in that moment she knows that sometimes you don't need to hear those three little words to know that they are true.
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