Author's Note—*ducks* I know, another story? But this plot bunny bit me hard, and I just couldn't stop from planning this out. It started out as a one-shot, and then ILoveRynMar got a hold of it, and dammit, now it's a full fledged angsty multi-chapter fic. If you are not familiar with the Luke Bryan song that inspired this story, the lyrics will provide the chapter titles but you can google them now or listen to the song. It's amazing.

I really wanted to explore the canon element of Katniss being oblivious to just how much she already noticed/loved Peeta in this alternate modern universe, and there will be a 'then' and 'now' component to each occasionally details in one chapter won't be explained til a later 'then' flashback or 'now' moment.

Thanks to my muses: ILoveRynMar, streetlightlove, Pookieh and IzzySamson, all who preread this. And to the brilliant, incomparable Ro are a genius, my friend. Thank you for the gorgeous banner that is everything I could have hoped for and more.

"You can wake me up in the dead of the night…"


(26 years old)

The shrieking notes of "Barracuda" startle Peeta awake, and his heart thumps erratically until he gets his bearings and realizes its her ring tone. Groggy with sleep, he squints at the screen at reads the time—2:14—before he slides his finger across the bottom and answers her call. Her voice is rough and she sounds tired but not drunk and when she begs to see him, he can't deny her. He can never deny her anything.

He pads across the hardwood floor of his bedroom and stumbles through the darkened living room, reaching for the deadbolt and listening to the quick click of the release. After twisting the lock on the knob, he trudges back to his bed and slips beneath the covers to wait.

Tonight he doesn't even hear her enter the apartment. It's not until she is standing at the foot of his bed, bathed in the cool blue tint of the moonlight seeping in between the slats of the blinds that he realizes she has arrived. "Hi," she murmurs, first shrugging off her jacket before making quick work of her jeans and peeling her t-shirt from her body. When she's clad in just her lacy black bra and a tiny pair of matching panties, she begins to crawl up the bed, a familiar spark in her molten eyes.

"Bad date, huh?" he asks. The coordinating undergarments is a telltale sign—at least for her—that she had entertained the idea that someone other than him would be seeing her naked that night. After all, he's used to the odd color combinations and simplicity of her usual cotton bra and practical boy shorts.

"The worst," she agrees, her fingers deftly working at the clasp of her bra, a coy smile playing on her lips as the tension in the garment eases and she slides it down her arms. She tosses it to the floor and descends on him before he even has a chance to ogle her bare breasts. Her pebbled nipples graze his chest as her body flattens along his and she latches onto his mouth, kissing him hungrily. Her tongue sweeps along the ridges of the roof of his mouth before twining around his.

"You wanna talk about it?" he mumbles when her lips leave his and begin to suckle at the flesh beneath his jaw. She shakes her head vehemently, trailing kisses down the column of his throat.

"Nuh, uh." She slithers down his body, tugging the sheet down as she goes and a frown instantly alters her expression. "You knew I was coming over. Why are these—" She snaps at the elastic band of his boxer-briefs—"still on?" Her hand settles over the bulge in the fabric and the smile returns to her face when she rubs at his rigid cock and a low groan erupts from his throat. She jerks at the shorts again, and he acquiesces and raises his hips so she can drag them down. Licking her lips, she laves her tongue along her palm and grips him, mewling with approval as she slides her hand up and down his shaft.

Peeta closes his eyes, exhaling lightly. The tingling sensation increases as she pumps him, but when he feels her warm, wet mouth engulf the head of his cock, he bucks up and moans loudly. His eyelids raise halfway so he can watch her sucking him eagerly. He finds his eyes drawn to his breasts, swaying back and forth enticingly, her nipples occasionally brushing his thigh.

She releases him from her mouth with a soft pop and lifts an eyebrow at him playfully before taking his balls in her hand and licking along the length of him. "You're so big," she praises, swirling her tongue around the tip, and Peeta involuntarily thrusts up again. "Do you know much I love sucking your dick?" And then he's in her mouth once more and her head bobs up and down vigorously, her long locks tickling his thighs.

The tension is building rapidly, and the words coming out of her mouth threaten to send him over the edge faster than he'd like. He tries to fight it, but the warmth in his balls spreads and he feels the waves of pleasure begin to crest and in spite of his best efforts, she's just too much for him and he comes with a guttural cry, spilling himself in her mouth. She continues to suckle him, swallowing every drop and dragging her tongue up his shaft before she sits back on her heels and grins mischievously at him.

"Fuck," he breathes, shaking his head at her as his cock softens and she settles herself directly over it, rocking her hips as she grinds into him. She's still clad in her panties, but he can feel how wet she is through the damp scrap of lace. She tosses her loose waves back over her shoulders, giving him an unobstructed view of her pert breasts. "What's gotten into you tonight?"

She shrugs and reaches for his hands, pressing her breasts into his palms, arching her back and gyrating her hips more insistently as he starts to knead the supple mounds. She smirks down at him and bites her lip when he begins to swell beneath her anew. "Mmm, that didn't take long at all."

"I'm serious, Katniss," he says softly. "That was fucking amazing. Not that it isn't always amazing, but what gives?"

Her shoulders lift imperceptibly and she covers his hands with hers, coaxing his thumbs to start circling her nipples. She lets out a little sigh of approval as he rolls and tugs at the hardened buds. "I dunno. I guess sloughing through the assholes in the shallow end of the dating pool reminds me how lucky I am to have you in my life." His breath hitches in his throat, and his stomach swoops as he waits for her to continue, even though he knows the words he wants to hear will never leave her lips. The wicked glint in her grey eyes all but confirms it. "To have this—" She reaches under her and touches him again, rubbing his cock against her wet, heated folds. "—in me." She leans down and kisses him ardently. "Fuck me. Now. Please."

No, he can never deny Katniss Everdeen anything.

But sooner or later that's going to have to change.


The summer after freshman year of high school (15 years old)

Peeta rummages through the cabinet beside the sink where his mother always stashes the junk food. He ate dinner an hour ago, but his stomach is still growling and unsatisfied. He decides on a bag of Cheetos and takes it with him into the living room, flopping on the couch and thumping his feet down on the coffee table. His body aches all over. Football practice had been torture that afternoon; Coach Abernathy had been particularly harsh and running the punishing wind sprints in 95-degree heat sucked the life out of him. It also left him peeing every half-hour on account of the three gallons of water he drank—even nearly five hours later. Just thinking about it brought on the urge to go. Fuck. Now it's in his head and he's going to be squirming throughout the entire movie.

After a quick trip to the bathroom, he settles back on the couch and grabs the remote, pulling up the On-Demand menu on the satellite. To his dismay, nothing looks even slightly appealing, and he winds up watching several episodes of Dexter before he glances at the clock and sees it's only ten o'clock. His muscles continue to scream at him for a release, but he's too lazy to go out back and take the cover off the hot tub and let it heat up. Besides, he remembers Rye and his latest fuck buddy were out there the night before, and he doubts it's been cleaned today—the pool guy usually comes on Wednesdays.

He fishes his phone out of his pocket and curses when he realizes that it had somehow been set to 'silent' and he has six text messages and three missed calls. Finnick. Cato. Thresh. He assumes that his friends—all guys from the football team—are up to no good and looking for him to join in. He's about to call Finnick and tell him he's just going to stay in for the night when he notices that two of the texts are from Katniss

A frisson of jealousy slithers down his spine. He knows part of his foul mood stems from the fact that his best friend had a date tonight—a date she likely could still be on, he frowns, knowing her curfew is midnight.

Peeta had tried not to react badly when Katniss had told him just that morning that she had finally agreed to go out with the lanky red-headed guy who worked at the movie theater with Peeta's brother, Rye. Darius Parker had been hitting on her for almost a year, much to Peeta's chagrin. Whenever Peeta and Katniss went to the movies, he'd roll his eyes and shift impatiently next to her while she endured the lame pick up lines that Darius lobbed in her direction. She always laughed them off and assured Peeta that she wasn't interested in Darius or anyone else really.

Peeta has been in love with Katniss Everdeen since she sat down next to him on the alphabet rug in Mrs. Paylor's kindergarten classroom. The little girl with the wide grey eyes and the glossy black pigtails hadn't said a word, but she smelled like Christmas trees. When the teacher finally got her to smile, it was the prettiest thing he had ever seen. And then she sang. He was a goner.

He had sat beside her at snack time that first day too, and even at five years old, he knew the small triangle of bread and the bruised apple that she carefully unpacked from a crumpled brown paper bag was not fit for the lovely girl beside him. He shyly offered her one of his shortbread cookies, and she reluctantly accepted it, thanking him with another smile that made his stomach flip-flop. "Thank you" was the first thing she had spoken directly to him.

They were inseparable from that moment on.

They still are. But Peeta knows she doesn't feel the same way about him as he does about her. He's pretty sure she doesn't spend most of her nights with her hand down her shorts, pleasuring herself to mental images of him.

He glances at her messages, both of which were sent hours ago, no doubt before she left for her date. He is mildly disturbed that there are no more messages—nothing more recently, say to complain about how shitty her evening is and how she needs him to rescue her. With a loud sigh, he calls Finnick back. He answers after the first ring.

"Fuck, Mellark. Don't you answer a phone or return a fucking text?"

"Hi to you too, Finn." He can barely hear his friend over the shrieks and loud music thrumming through the earpiece. That's the thing about summer—it seems like every night there's a party somewhere.

"Where the hell are you?"

"I'm just hanging at home. My parents went into the city for their anniversary and Rye is working."

"So you have the whole house to yourself and you didn't tell us?" Finnick snorts into the phone. "Why are we slumming it in Marvel's basement while his mom pretends she doesn't know we're shotgunning beers and smoking weed down here?"

Peeta rolls his eyes. "Because you're not smoking weed, dumbass. You guys are all talk. You know Abernathy can pull that random drug test bullshit on us anytime."

"You're so fucking smart, Mellark." Finnick pauses and Peeta hears a sharp smacking noise and a giggle and Finnick laughs softly and Peeta hears him tells his girlfriend, Annie, that he'll be right with her. "No Everdeen tonight?"

None of Peeta's friends know how badly he really does want Katniss. But that doesn't stop them all from giving him shit about her and the amount of time they spend together. He's been accused of wanting to fuck her on countless occasions, and he thinks he does a pretty good job of brushing them off—no matter how true it is. "Nah, she's on a date."

Finnick lets out a low whistle between his teeth. "Fuck, man, really? And it's not with you?" He laughs, but Peeta ignores it and remains quiet. "So you coming over here or what?"

Peeta glances at the clock again and decides his suddenly foul mood has left him with no desire to leave the house. He definitely doesn't want to watch Finnick and Annie make out like dogs in heat or Cato trying to get into the pants of whichever cheerleader he's infatuated with this week. And in fact, there's a bottle of lube and a particularly good porno on his laptop with a girl that looks a little like Katniss that are now both calling his name. "Nah, maybe tomorrow night."

"Suit yourself. You working tomorrow?"

"Yeah, opening with my dad. I'll see you at practice?"

"Yeah. Later."

Peeta crumples up the bag of Cheetos and turns off the television, trudging upstairs to his bedroom. He slams the door and locks it behind him—he can never be too safe when he's jacking off, even in an empty house.

The laptop boots up while he brushes his teeth in the bathroom that connects his room to Rye's then pees again and wedges his desk chair under the door, another precaution against Rye's tendency to burst in uninvited, though he's not due home from the movie theater til nearly two. He sheds his tee shirt and his sweat shorts and crosses to the window, glancing outside before drawing the blinds closed. Only a ribbon of moonlight is visible when he turns off the lights and lies down on his bed, not bothering to climb under the sheets. Even with the central air running, it's too warm for them.

He doesn't even remember nodding off, but a loud knock jolts him awake and he lurches up, hand still inside his boxers holding his flaccid cock. The laptop screen is dark but remains open on his nightstand.

Glancing around, he blinks rapidly to allow his eyes to adjust to the darkness and his ears try to discern where the knocking is coming from. There it is again. He looks over to the window, realizing it sounds like knuckles rapping against glass, and he cautiously pads to the window tugging up the blinds, nearly tripping backwards and stifling a shout when Katniss's face dominates the pane. She motions to the window and he exhales, his heart pounding against his ribs at the shock of seeing her. Hastily he raises the window and she slips under it; he quickly wraps his arms around her waist protectively to get her safely inside.

"Katniss, what the fuck?" he whispers, breathing heavily as she straightens up, his hands finding purchase on her hips. "How the hell did you get up here?"

She doesn't answer him because all at once her hand is on the back of his neck and she's crushing her lips to his, pressing her body flush against his, and he has to stifle a groan and break away before she feels him getting hard.

"Katniss, what the…" he echoes. His brain is in a fog; the room is spinning and he thinks he must still be dreaming. But he tingle on his lips from the intense pressure of her rough embrace proves he's not.

"Am I a bad kisser?" she asks, her eyes wide and luminous in the moonlight now spilling fully across his floor.

"What?" He's still coming out of his haze and willing her eyes not to stray to his crotch—not that he thinks she'd ever think to look there—and he's too stunned to process what has transpired in the last sixty seconds.

She brushes past him and goes to sit on the edge of his bed, resting her chin on one hand. Her countenance has grown solemn—her eyes look almost sad. She opens her mouth to speak, but her lips quiver and no sound comes out. He sighs and gingerly sinks down to the bed beside her. "What's wrong? How was your date?" he manages to ask, though his stomach twists with envy again. She shrugs and leans her head on his shoulder; he inhales and gets a deep whiff of the lavender and vanilla shampoo she's been using lately. Her hair is down and falls in soft waves, ticking his shoulder and upper arm where her head rests. He's not used to seeing it freed from the confines of her braid, and he has a profound urge to card his fingers through it.

"It was okay," she finally begins. "The restaurant was good, I guess." She coughs quietly and traces circles on his upper thigh, causing his cock to twitch at the proximity of her hand to it. He's hyperaware that he's clad in nothing but his boxer shorts while she is fully dressed, though she seems indifferent to it. "He was nice. We had a good talk on the car ride home and all. I thought things were going well."

Peeta remains silent, struggling to hear what she is saying as he fights the hard-on that is steadily straining inside his shorts. Fuck, he wishes she'd stop touching him. He can't believe he's saying that, but he can't concentrate on anything but how good she smells and how soft her hand is on his leg and how much he'd like it about three inches higher. "What…uh…happened then?"

"He dropped me off and walked me to the door and…" She trails off and huffs, abruptly pulling back her hand and leaping off the bed, starting to pace around the room. Peeta exhales and quickly grabs his cock, adjusting it discreetly while her back is to him. "Oh god, it's so embarrassing, Peeta." She groans and buries her face in her hands while she paces.

His curiosity is certainly piqued. Not much rattles his best friend; Katniss takes pride in her steely exterior and not letting things affect her. He can't recall the last time he's seen her this flustered. Satisfied that his dick is under control, he rises from the bed and walks to grab her shoulders from behind, causing her to still. She spins around and faces him. "I think I broke his nose."

"What?" He tries to suppress his surprised laugh but can't, and he sees the irritation flash in those stony orbs.

"Peeta!" she hisses. "You see? Now you know why it's so bad!"

"Okay, tell me what happened. I'm sure it's not so bad," he says gently.

"He moved to kiss me, and I was a little nervous and I moved the wrong way I guess and I don't even know how it happened but my head drilled his nose and fuck, there was blood, Peeta. Blood!"

"Oh, Katniss. Shit happens. It was an accident. I've done plenty of stupid things. Last week at practice my cleat caught in the turf and I almost drilled a tackling dummy." He shakes his head and smiles at her, feeling slightly guilty for his restrained joy at the knowledge that Darius's attempt at kissing her was thwarted.

"I'm pretty sure you've never broken anyone's nose kissing them."

"I don't kiss that many girls," he replies quietly. And he hasn't. His first kiss—when he was eight—was with Katniss. They had been riding their bikes and had stopped at the creek that ran behind Katniss's house, separating her backyard from the Hawthorne's property next door. After skipping stones and fishing out minnows with their bare hands, Katniss had grabbed his face in her grubby hands and planted her lips on his—much the way she had taken him by surprise after climbing in the window just minutes ago. When he asked her why she had done it, she had shrugged and explained that he was her best friend, she loved him, and she just wanted to see what it felt like. She hasn't mentioned it since, nor has she ever tried to kiss him again until just now. "Was he mad?"

She bites her lip to stop it from trembling and nods. "He was in a lot of pain, though, so I kind of can't blame him. But then he asked me what was wrong with me and why I was such a shitty kisser."

Peeta's eyes widen and his fists instinctively clench at the thought of the usually mild-mannered Darius lashing out at Katniss—his Katniss. "I'm sure he didn't mean it," he says gently, reaching for her hand, squeezing it reassuringly.

"Kiss me," she begs suddenly, taking his other hand in hers, stepping closer so there is barely an inch between their bodies. "Please, Peeta?"

"What?" he croaks, his heart starting to hammer in his chest again.

"Kiss me. Come on. You're my best friend. Help me out. It's just like studying, and we do that all the time."

"Katniss, I'm not gonna…" The words die in his throat when he observes the desperate look in her eyes.

"Please," she says again, her voice barely a whisper.

Shit. He can't say no to this girl. "Okay," he agrees quietly, and her grey eyes sparkle like quartz.

But he knows he can't draw her into his arms and kiss her standing up. There's no way he won't get hard from the feel of her lips on his, and he's not prepared for the awkwardness that will no doubt ensue when she comprehends his reaction to her. So he leads her back to the bed and they settle next to each other again. His pulse quickens when she places a hand on his knee and leans in, angling her head towards him. He swallows and brushes a lock of hair behind her ear, cupping her cheek as her eyes flutter closed and she purses her lips expectantly. Slowly, he angles her face towards him and lightly brushes his lips over hers. At first, her mouth is slack beneath his, and he's almost relieved by her obvious inexperience—he didn't exactly think she was off making out with Gale or any other guys, but he's always been insecure when it comes to his feelings for Katniss.

As he continues to kiss her, she begins to respond. Her hand remains on his knee, but she suddenly plants the other one firmly on his bare chest, the heat of her palm raising his body temperature a few degrees almost instantaneously. And then her tongue darts out and presses insistently at the seam of his lips and he draws back.

"What?" she asks, irritation almost audible in her tone. He smiles wanly at her and rubs his thumb along her swollen lower lip.

"Slow down," he chides gently.

"Isn't kissing supposed to be passionate?" she retorts. "Don't most guys want to thrust their tongues in your mouth?"

"The assholes do. But good kissing is all about the build up." He slants his mouth over hers again and traces her lips carefully with his tongue. The flavor of her mint lip balm mingles with her warm breath and it sends an involuntary shiver down his spine.

This time she pulls back. "You're using your tongue now." He nods and covers her hand with his, feeling his heart thrumming beneath both their palms.

"Your lips taste good," he whispers, and her tongue immediately flicks out to lick her own lips, brows furrowing. "Go ahead. Taste mine." Hesitantly, she leans up and swipes her tongue along his lower lip. "Slower," he encourages, and she obediently moves it more deliberately, and he cups the back of her neck, urging her closer to him. "Now open your mouth." When she does, he sucks her tongue into his mouth, caressing it with his own. The little squeaks that Katniss begins to make resonate directly in his groin, and before he realizes she is doing it, she has clamored into his lap, straddling him, hovering directly above his prominent erection. Her fingers weave into his hair, her short nails raking over his scalp as she explores the crevices of his mouth. He nibbles at her lower lip, worrying it lightly with his teeth and as she rolls her hips toward him, her eyes widen when she makes contact with his hard-on.

He expects her to scramble off his lap, to flush with embarrassment and climb back out the window. They may know every last thing about each other after years of friendship, but bodily functions have largely been taboo territory—in seventh grade she practically avoided him for two days the time a tampon fell out of her backpack onto his bedroom floor when they were studying for a history test.

But instead, she shocks him by rocking her hips again and the breathy moan that she emits gets lost in his throat as they continue to kiss. His heart is pounding at this point, and with each revolution of Katniss's hips, he knows it won't be long before he loses it. He already feels the tightening in his balls.

As much as he doesn't want her to stop kissing him and rubbing herself against him, he can't—won't—blow his load in front of her. "Katniss, stop," he orders, his voice raspy and foreign to his ears. She stills in his lap and slowly pulls her lips from his, a thread of saliva stretching between their mouths.

"Why?" she asks, her eyes narrowed. "You're a really good kisser, Peeta. This feels really good."

A thrill spirals through him at her words of praise. "I know. And you're a really good kisser too, so fuck Darius for saying otherwise." His cock throbs painfully when her eyes light up and her face twists into a surprisingly shy smile. "But we can't keep going or…" He trails off and sighs, motioning to the obvious tenting in his boxers.

Katniss finally looks down and she stares at him long enough that he fidgets uncomfortably under her gaze. Then she shrugs and says, "So? I passed sex Ed last year, Peeta. You helped me study then too, remember? I know all about boners and what happens when you get turned on. It's no big deal." She smirks at him, twisting a finger around a long strand of hair. "I suppose I should be flattered that you even got hard for me."

She has no idea, he thinks with mild amusement, just how hard he gets for her—practically all the time anymore. He tries to keep his tone even. "Uh…I guess."

"What if we laid down?" she whispers. "If I'm not in your lap maybe it won't…" She gestures toward his headboard and pillows.

There's little chance that he's not going to stay ridiculously hard, but he doesn't really want to stop kissing her—not while she's doing it so willingly. But he's hopeful that without her grinding back and forth on top of him, he might be able to keep things under control. "Okay," he agrees and edges back on the bed, pulling her down with him, twisting onto his side so that she's facing him, their bodies parallel to one another. "Are you sure you want to keep doing this?" Fuck. Why did he say that? Don't give her an out you shithead.

She winds a hand around behind his neck and closes the distance between them. "Shut up." Her mouth melds to his and it's like they've been doing this for years.

He's not sure how long they kiss, but eventually his mind starts to wander to the possibilities of exploring other parts of her body with his lips. He really wants to nuzzle her neck and taste the skin beneath her earlobe—hell he wants to suck on her earlobe. But he's not sure what lines, if any, have been drawn. Are they just kissing? What about his hands? He's kept one on the small of her back, rubbing lazy circles just above the waistband of her jeans while the other stays chastely on her hip. But he wants to touch her everywhere—her ass, her breasts, between her legs—fuck, he wants it all.

"Okay," she breathes, breaking their embrace and bringing him back to reality. "I think I should get back home." Peeta stares at her, his eyes riveted to her puffy pink lips, swollen from being so thoroughly kissed and even in the dim light of his room he can see the flush on her olive skin. "My mom is gonna be up in a few hours for her shift at the hospital and she'll fucking lose it on me if she thinks I snuck out."

"You did sneak out," he says with a laugh that conceals his disappointment. "You're such a rebel."

"Yeah, that's me." She grins and climbs off the bed, adjusting her t-shirt and snapping her loose hair into a ponytail with an elastic she had around her wrist. He rises off the bed too, his boxers immediately displaying the evidence of just how much he enjoyed the last hour. It's well after three a.m. now. Katniss steps towards him and levers on her toes, pressing a soft final kiss to his lips.

"Thanks, Peeta."

"Anytime," he replies sincerely, his heart thumping as she rewards him with a radiant smile.

"Careful. I might take you up on that." She winks at him and slips out the window.

"God, I hope so," he murmurs as he watches her swing over to grab the trellis that leads down to the roof of the Mellarks' screened-in porch and soundlessly leaps to the grass before disappearing into the early morning fog.

His mind is whirling with so many muddled thoughts when he lies back down on his bed that about the only thing he can do to relax is slide his hand inside his shorts and start to stroke himself. Katniss Everdeen had just snuck into his bedroom—she had to have run the nearly three miles here—neither he or Katniss will have a license until the next spring—and she had wanted him to kiss her.

As he circles the tip of his cock and uses some of the pre-cum to lubricate his palm, he closes his eyes and can almost still feel her soft lips on his, her body rocking atop his, and it doesn't take long for the sensation to build and his orgasm to overtake him. He's never come so hard in his life.

He cleans off in the bathroom, careful not to start the faucet past a trickle so as not to wake Rye if he's home by now. Rinsing out the washcloth, he hangs it over the shower bar and quietly returns to his bed, falling into a peaceful slumber, not wanting to consider that this night could have implications that will complicate his friendship with Katniss for years.

Please share your thoughts with me...I'm not on tumblr but I welcome comments and PMs.

I will be posting the last chapter of A Favorable Wind tomorrow and should have updates to Windfall and Spellbound out by next week. School ends next week, so...that means more writing. Yay! ~C~