Hey, if you're actually reading this, thanks for opening my story. It's been stuck in my head for weeks now, and I've finally managed to put it into words for publish. This is somewhat of an epilogue, meaning the next chapter is where the action can begin. Note that this is rated M for minor explicit scenes later on and many discussions about sex in general. Hope you enjoy!
The title is taken from a song of the same name by Bring Me The Horizon, I highly recommend you check it out, unless metal isn't your style just read the lyrics. And don't forget to review, I will reply to any praise, comments, or suggestions you'd like to talk about.
Disclaimer: I sadly don't own The Hunger Games. Fuck my life.
Summary: The rebels defeated the Capitol during the Dark Days. 86 years later, Peeta Mellark is a successful doctor working at Panem University Hospital in District 12 when Katniss Everdeen is admitted to his facility. She's a hopeless case, but Peeta is more than willing to help the gray eyed girl. That is… if he could only control himself around her long enough to. AU, psychological drama.
Hospital For Souls
I wake up to the sound of my alarm buzzing noisily in my ear, effectively snapping my eyes open and pulling me out of my dreamy state. I can't say I'm particularly happy with the result. It was a surprisingly pleasant dream—a rarity in my case—though, I've forgotten nearly half of it by now. With a groan, I slam my hand down on the irritating black box, hitting the snooze button, and bury my head further into the soft cotton pillow.
The material feels heavenly against my cheek, but my efforts are in vain. I'll have to get up eventually, and the sooner the day is done with, the better.
I flip onto my back and swing my legs out to the floor. I don't even bother glancing at the other side of my bed. No one's slept in that spot in years, something that's very unlikely to change in the near future. I shake my head clear of those unwanted thoughts and head for the shower.
Forty minutes later, I'm fully dressed, brown paper bag at hand for a certain someone, and then I'm out the door.
Panem University Hospital is running like business as usual when I step through the sliding glass doors. Doctors in green scrubs and nurses in blue ones roam the lobby like it's their own, their colorful attire contrasting against the laden white walls and gray tinted floors. The air reeks of the familiar scent of sterile chemicals and freshener. Visitors and patients sitting on benches pressed against the walls visibly wrinkle their noses at the smell, but anyone working here long enough has become accustomed to it.
I'm straightening the collar of my white work coat when a heavy hand grips my shoulder.
"Well, aren't you coming in early all of a sudden," says a gruff male voice that oozes sarcasm. The clock above the receptionist desk clearly shows I've missed about 10 minutes on my shift.
I smirk and turn to greet the sound's source, holding up the paper bag between my fingers. "I figured you'd at least want breakfast badly enough to give me a free pass, Haymitch."
The older doctor with the red rimmed eyes and weeks-past-needing-a-trim dark hair huffs back in annoyance, removing his hand to fold his arms across his chest. I'm unsurprised, and disappointed, at the noticeably present scent of alcohol on him. Haymitch Abernathy's drinking is District 12's—and Panem Hospital's—worst kept secret. It's unprecedented how little the booze seems to affect his work. He even has a dark whiskey stain low on his jacket.
He snatches the bag from my hand quicker than I would've expected him to. For a middle-aged drinker, his reflexes are top notch. He jerks his head to the side and starts walking, indicating me to follow. I know where we're headed without him having to explain.
The cafeteria is sparsely occupied, and mostly by patients with non-critical cases, but there are a few nurses and doctors seated as well. It's a quaint place with not much to offer other than a respite from work and recovery. Patients love it here. It gives them something to do other than lie on their beds and flirt with the constant boredom. At least the air smells more natural here with all the food wafting around.
"So…. " I drag the vowel, once we're settled and Haymitch is done fishing out a hearty bagel and a container of cream cheese. It wasn't necessary, but it will sure put me in his good graces with what I'm about to ask. "How much have you had so far?"
He knows what I'm alluding to. But he laughs at the question, obviously amused, and spreads a generous amount of cheese on the bread. "I don't remember that being any of your damn business." He says.
"Can't blame me for looking out for my boss's best interest."
"That's touching. My heart is just exploding with warmth."
"You still haven't answered my question." I counter playfully. Because sometimes it's irresistible to rile him up with an attitude like his.
Haymitch rolls his eyes, "Look, Mr. Self-righteous-know-it-all, what or how much I drink is still none of your concern. I've been doing this since before you were learning about Darwin in secondary school, and I'm still breathing." He takes a greedy bite out of his breakfast.
I sigh in irritation, biting down a comeback about his super-human liver, and drop the subject. He's too stubborn for his own good, and if I keep pressing him on it, that'll only get me on his bad side. He barely tolerates me thus far. It's confusing why he keeps me company with his opinion so low. He's probably just lonely. Not many people in this hospital willingly choose to associate themselves with him. They think I'm either a teacher's pet or flat out crazy for doing just that. I think it's a shame, because the man—despite his many faults and overbearing attitude—is a gifted doctor. There's never a boring day working with him.
I'm silent for a moment, eyeing him devour my floured creation. "Good?" I ask.
"Very," he says, mouth full of food. I can barely make out what comes out next, "AndIhateyouforit." But I chuckle nonetheless.
That's when the telltale siren of a half-dozen comunicuffs go off, cutting off all conversation in the room.
The few doctors and nurses present stare at the metal wrist devices, reading its message. Haymitch doesn't even lift a finger. Once finished, most of them rush to get out the door in a hurry like a group of panicked animals in a chase. I'm confused, and I catch one of them before he can run off. I think he's a nurse named Thom.
"Hey, what's going on?" I inquire. There's a look that crosses his face, calm but concerned. I know the look well. It's a sign of an urgent case around here.
"Ambulance just dropped off a critical one: a girl bleeding heavily from her wounds. Peacekeepers think it's an attempted suicide." I don't get anything else out of him before he takes off to join the rest of the pack. They must be part of the Emergency unit.
Haymitch perks, a lazy grin perched on his lips. "I think you've got yourself a brand new patient, Mellark."
He continues eating unbothered, completely at peace, without sparing another word. Adversely, I feel as if the air has been forcibly knocked out of my lungs, robbing me of its oxygen. My mind is already conjuring up images of a faceless girl laying on a gurney, slightly bloodied up and unconscious, surrounded by nurses attempting to stop the flow of leaking redness that soaks through the sheets. It's not a pretty picture. I can't remember the last time I've heard of a suicide—attempted or otherwise—happening in District 12. I think it's safe to say it's been a few years.
Haymitch is snapping his fingers in front of my face now, pulling me out of my trance. I blink twice before meeting his gaze. "What?" I ask.
"I said, are you okay, boy?" he repeats, annoyance palpable in his undertone. I didn't even realize he'd aired a question before.
I nod vigorously, "Yeah, fine."
He gives me a once over with his eyes, as if doubting my wellbeing, and then shakes his head. "Alright then, paramedics are gonna need some time patching your girl up. So, until she's transferred, we need you in Psychiatrics. Think you can handle it, kid?"
I smirk, "Of course I can. I'm not a baby, Haymitch."
"Then get going."
Another tease at him, a signature scowl directed at me, and I don't have to be told twice to get back to work. Only problem is, the nameless girl whose life is on the line in the ICU refuses to leave my thoughts. And I can't think of one reason why that is.
Softness encases me, like a cocoon would a caterpillar. It feels nice, relaxing. Peaceful. I forgot what the word entailed. My panic is gone, rolling off my body in waves. For the first time in a long time, I can breathe normally. There's no sense of entrapment anymore. No agonizing depression to suffocate me. No hunger to starve my body. No walls to cave in and crush me. No graves to dig anymore.
It's someone else who will be burying me. A complete stranger. I'm oddly content with that. They will not cry over me or give rousing eulogies to somber crowds. If anyone even attends. I don't deserve a big crowded funeral. No, it's more suitable to be obscure, forgotten like this, from people's minds as I hide in my shell, like an endangered turtle. They can save their tears; I have no one else to live for.
And to think, all it took was my hand and a blade to my wrist.
It was almost haunting the number of times the idea crossed my mind once conceived. And it had been more difficult than I'd originally thought it would be. I had to fight off my own survival instincts, which nearly seized control of my hand and screamed at me to drop the blade. I eventually won out through patient persistence. But even then, I stilled my shaky hold on the instrument.
I was missing something. Craving something, to be more exact.
I longed to hear a voice other than my own. I didn't care whose. I longed to feel another human being's touch. Even that green-eyed, bronze-tanned prick at the fish market would've been better than nothing. He'd winked and smirked at me when our fingers brushed over my order; I merely scowled at his suggestive flirtations. But, more importantly, I longed for bread. Bread meant there was hope, and I desperately yearned for some hope.
I can't put a precise date on when I began associating the food with the feeling. I just know I can never look at the baked staple again without feeling my heartbeat race and a flutter tickle my stomach like a swarm of butterflies. Or thinking about the boy behind the bread.
That's when my needy thoughts came to a halt. I was procrastinating. No one was there to speak to me. I'd disconnected the house phone in a fit of depressed rage as it shattered against the wall I'd thrown it at. No one was there to give me solace or wrap their arms around me. The house was empty of life with me as the sole exception. And no one was going to sneak me some bread this time.
I started weeping. Then wailing, curling myself into a ball on the tiled bathroom floor I'd taken refuge in. Then I finally slashed my wrist. The blood arrived soon after, but wasn't dramatically overflowing as I so often thought it would be. It took longer than I'd expected, but I remember I was still crying when I'd, at long last, mercifully succumbed into dark, savory unconsciousness. Bread was still on my mind, and so was the silhouette of a man, now grown up, with shaggy blond hair and intense sapphire blue eyes. The pounding of my heart made my chest ache like a punching bag. It saddened me to know he'd be the last image in my mind.
Peeta Mellark, the boy who saved my life, wasn't here to save me again. He couldn't save me. I was simply destined to fail him. Destined to give up hope, like that last loaf of bread I'd rejected from him years ago.