And thus begins the regular updates! I really hope I didn't just jinx things... Well the chapter title is a reference to the books, so yay, but I think I also cranked this chapter out in a decent amount of time! Fingers crossed it stays this way! :) I'm actually pretty happy with how this chapter turned out. We are edging nearer to the end of the story, but we still have a ways to go, you guys! I only know how I want it to end. There is still the journey of getting there. Well, onto reviews!
X The mad girl back home X: I'm so glad you're enjoying this! I'm really attached to Odesta too. I have recently figured out the meaning of OTP and they are mine. :)
MiaBelles: I'm like that too! I have actually forgotten what I've written in previous chapters before and have scrambled to find what I've written and often times never found it... Oh well! I have seen it twice. THe first time I saw the movie, I didn't cry, but simply because every time I thought I was I looked at my sister (who hadn't read the books) and she is the funniest crier ever! The second time I teared up.
miabelles: P.S. I did see The Fault in Our Stars, as stated above ;)
LivLuvHG7273: The part where Johanna had her baby was actually the hardest part to write and honestly why the update took so flipping long to being with. I'm glad I got it right, though! #Fannie all the way! Nah, I wouldn't kill off Katniss... in this story... probably... Idk, I'm really unpredictable! Don't apologize for rambling! It's a skill in the art of conversation! At least that is what I tell myself. Well now I'm rambling... XD
NARENKAPZ: THANKSYWEUBFAOUNJEN ;) Thank you for the love! :D
radubecca: Trying my best to update regularly, at least! It is very much a summer story :) I'm so glad you like the story!
peetagrl3: Oh I love it when I get responses like that! I love it when people flip out! 37 reviews... I'm so appreciative for every single one! You rock! Happy Birthday Graceland! :D Thank you! Keep sparkling!
MeaganOneDirection: I have an idea of what will happen, but a lot of this story is me letting the characters take me away, so I only know how the story is going to end. I'm not even sure what is going to happen between them. I guess we will both have to wait and see! We shall see when Katniss gets back... Mwahahahahaha
justmeHG999: I am too! I'm honestly not sure what I'm going to have happen between them. I'm the scribe. The characters control the story. I just know how the story is going to end. :) I'm glad you like it!
Tess: OMG I'm so glad you like it! I am loving reading the expression of feels in this story!
TributeWhovianPotterhead: I'm sorry that you hate me... *cries in a corner* jk. I understand the feeling. I recently read a story in a different fandom that left me that same way. Do you realize how flattered I am that this is the only modern day HG story that you read? I find that so amazing! The story isn't over yet, so no worries. :)
Whatsupitsemma: I am such a bad vlogger... I should go do that after this... I'm so glad you like the story though! :)
Sparkling Tide: Thank you so much! :D
Sparkling Tide: literally freaked out at your review. It made me so happy! I was at my friends 17th birthday part reading 50 Shades of Gray (I bought the book for them as a joke and when you get four girls going into their senior year of high school it kind of... yeah...) and I almost started crying about how happy your review made me! Thank you so much!
MewWinx96: Totally understand, dude! Sketch internet is the worst! *Looks at cop wearing a smug look* can't prove anything, can ya? *cop pulls out cuffs and I run and gives you $10 that you lost on the bet* Prim is the best sister ever! I would trade both of mine for Prim! Finnick totally deserves the butt kicking you gave him! I think that both Peeta and Gale are beating Finnick in the boyfriend department as of right now... for the moment at least. (A year ago I did not think I would ever have Finnick cheat on Annie. A year ago I also thought I would be done with this story by now. I also thought I would have maybe one hundred reviews...?) The Oompa Loompa song...?
Lily: Oh my gosh! Which friend? Anyway, I'm so glad you love it and people actually think it is good enough to share with other people! I'm so glad you love the story!
Part III Chapter 2- Real of Not Real
I wake up to the sound of a piercing wail reverberating through the floor. Julietta is awake. I groan, but find myself starting to get out of bed. Don't want her to cry all night. I stop when I feel a hand on my shoulder. "I'll get her, Johanna," Gale says in a tired whisper.
Gale has pretty much refused to let me get up and care for Julietta any time she wakes up and starts crying in the middle of the night. I appreciate him for it, but I know it cannot be good for him. In the week since she has been born, and four days since we have been home from the hospital, I've had to get up and take care of her at night maybe twice, and those times were only because I woke up and did anything before Gale could wake up. Still, I have the best boyfriend, scratch that, husband, ever. It feels weird to call him my husband, not because he doesn't make me happen, heaven knows I've never been happier, but because it's just such a foreign thought.
Growing up I never saw myself as the girl who would get married. I saw myself playing bridesmaid, sure, but never the girl to walk down the aisle dressed in white. I never imagined myself falling in love before, either. Obviously that happened. Life is weird.
I feel the weight on the bed shift as Gale gets up. I pretend to fall back asleep, but in reality I watch the way he hold the little baby girl. He picks her up like she is made of glass, but the security in his arms is real. He rocks her to sleep, bouncing a little bit as he does so, expertly making her crying stop and putting her to bed. I can tell she is going to be a Daddy's Girl when she is older. There are moments when she cries when I can't even get her to stop, just Gale.
Julietta looks more like her dad than she does me, as of right now. There is dark hair on her head that resembles that man's hair color. The man who raped me had the same hair color as Gale though. It makes it easier to pretend Gale is the real father. Now that I think about it, I'm glad Julietta was born a girl. Her features may slightly resemble her father, but girls tend to take features given to them by their mother's. I won't have the constant reminder of what happened to me looming over me head. I wonder what color eyes she will have. Currently they are still the blue of a newborn. I'm sure they will be brown, like my eyes. I remember the man who raped me had smokey gray eyes. They weren't the same comforting gray as Katniss and Gale's gray eye color, but a gray that reminded you of smoke or a gun. They seemed almost dangerous. I pray the eyes are brown. It is the dominant color anyway.
Gale manages to rock Julietta back to sleep and climbs back in bed, being careful not to disturb me as he does. He presses his lips lightly against my temple, as to not awaken me. He doesn't realize I was watching him, falling even more in love with him than I already was, a feat I had not thought possible.
"They don't know I'm coming home today, do they?" I ask Haymitch as I slide into the passenger seat of the car.
"No idea, Sweetheart. Everyone think I'm headed off to look at some new case that might move into Graceland. Effie is making lamb stew with dried plumbs for your big return, though," he says. Suddenly, unexpectedly, Haymitch pulls me in for a hug. "We've missed ya around here."
Even more unexpected, I find myself hugging him back. "I missed you guys too."
When Haymitch and I part, and we're on the road back to Graceland, a six hour road trip, Haymitch claims he gets to be the DJ, proclaiming he wouldn't even have to make this trip if my sorry butt hadn't gotten involved in all this. Basically, it's an 80's music marathon. I find myself knowing a surprising amount of the songs and actually surprise myself in singing along to Eye of the Tiger and Mickey. I do snort when Like a Virgin comes on, though. "You were a Madonna fan, Haymitch?"
"Don't use the past tense, Sweetheart." He then looks at the clock. "It's lunch time. How about we pull over and get something. What are you in the mood for?"
"You're letting me pick? You, Mister 'we aren't listening to any modern day music because it is all crap and you make poor decisions' is letting me pick where we go to lunch?"
Haymitch lets out a small chuckle. "You're right. Why am I letting you pick?" We eventually came across a Taco Bell, neither of us having immediate complaints about the fast food choice. Haymitch and I both voted on the Doritos Locos Tacos, but I got Nacho Cheese and Haymitch got Cool Ranch. Sorry excuse for a chip flavor if I've ever tasted one. Haymitch also got a Diet Coke. Sorry excuse for a soda. When coming to Taco Bell, one must always get Baja Blast Mountain Dew, or a mixture of Baja Blast Mountain Dew and regular Mountain Dew.
"So Peeta has been sending me letters, telling me what is going on in the world of Graceland. The last time he wrote me was from the hospital. Johanna was having the baby," I say. Haymitch just nods while chewing on his taco.
I keep going, seeing he hasn't read the letters Peeta sent me. I just want to know the gender. "So was it a boy or a girl?"
Haymitch chuckles. "That's the question, isn't it, sweetheart?"
I cross my arms after I put down the taco I was eating. "Come on, Haymitch. I really want to know."
"Well what do you think it was, Katniss?" he asks me.
I shrug. "I don't know. I guess I've always expected Johanna to have a boy."
Haymitch continues to eat his taco while he drive. "Well, you'll find out soon. Patience, Sweetheart. Patience."
I find myself getting nervous the closer we get to Graceland. How will everyone react to seeing me? I will I react to seeing them? How much have I changed since I last saw them? The last time any of them saw me conscious I was depressed and on drugs. I'm in a much better place now, but I'm not quite sure they'll realize it. Haymitch must detect my nervousness because he gives me a comforting smile as we get closer. "Don't worry, Sweetheart. Everything will be fine."
I've been away from my mom about a week now and the further I get away, the more sighs of relief I give myself. I'm getting away from her. The further away I get, though, the more I have to walk. I haven't been doing too bad. The money I snuck away from my mom has gotten me pretty far. I've stayed at the cheapest motels I could find. To my relief, I've only been asked once why I was alone and why I was walking. No one seemed to find it sketchy that a teenage girl was walking into a motel with nothing but a small backpack that contained a single change of clothes and the little bit of money I possessed. The one time I was questioned, I did explain what had happened to me. I had told the kind hispanic woman at the front I was a victim of abuse and was sent to foster care when I was younger. Years later my mom had gotten out of jail and had gotten me back. I was abused again, so I ran away. The lady did not completely believe my story at first, so I showed her the scars on my legs and the newly forming ones on my stomach. The woman let me stay the night for free. She also insisted on giving me all the money out of the four vending machines in the motel, about three hundred dollars.
When I got to my room, I picked up the cream colored phone at the nightstand and dialed the familiar number of Finnick Odair. "Hello?" Finnick had answered on the third ring.
"Hey, it's Annie." I said. I hadn't called him since that night I had escaped. I wanted to be sure I was far away from my mom, with no risk of being caught. I didn;t want to put Finnick in danger.
I can hear the smile come over him and relief washes over me like a tsunami. "Annie! Are you okay? Where are you? You're away from your mom, right?"
I nod, before I realize he cannot see my nodding. "Yes, yes I got away from her. I am in a motel somewhere in southern Colorado, I think. Trinidad maybe? Just outside of it?"
Finnick was hesitant in answering when I talked to him. It made my heart speed up. It made me feel like something was wrong. His voice always carried around of playful cockiness to it, unless he was just talking to me. When it was just us, he was completely open and honest. He wasn't afraid of what I would think because he and I both knew I could not be the kind of girl to hold grudges for mistakes or little things. I'm a forgiving person. If I distance myself because of something, it's not because I haven't forgiven them; it's because I don't want either of us to get hurt. I know I couldn't distance myself from Finnick, though. He just needs to tell me what is wrong. "Finn, something is wrong. Tell me?"
"Finn, something is wrong. Tell me?" She can read me from miles away, detecting every emotion I feel even though we haven't seen one another in seven months. There is no possible way for her to accurately come to that conclusion. Yet she does. I can do the same thing with her. I can hear each little detail of her voice, worry, tiredness and fear make up part of her voice, but I can also detect the joy in it. The joy of getting away from her mom. The joy of getting to talk to me.
"Finn, are you there?" she asks.
I sigh. I just need to tell her. Annie, I'm the worst boyfriend ever. I cheated on the only girl I love. I cheated on the only girl I ever loved. Annie, I hope there is some way in your heart you can forgive me. "Annie, there is something I have to tell you."
"What is it?" My heart accelerates. I can tell her heart is accelerating. I can read her from a thousand miles away. I can read her from the opposite side of the globe. She can do the same for me. She probably knows what I have done and is just waiting on me to admit it to her. That's a stretch. She probably has no idea, but simply because of her outstanding faith in humanity. Her outstanding faith in me.
"Annie, I-" say it, Finn. You have to. "I- I'm going to get you. I'm getting plane tickets and I'm going to pick you up from Colorado. I'll get a round way ticket to Trinidad for me and buy a one way ticket for you to get back. No way Haymitch will say no. If he knows you ran away because you were abused again, he'll be in full support!"
I can practically see Annie's face light up. "Really? You mean it?"
I nod, though she can't see it. "Yeah! I'm buying the next plane ticket there." She starts to laugh, sounding like pure relief has flooded her. She is probably relieved I said that instead that I cheated on her. I'll tell her. I just need to get her home first. "Annie, I want you to stay where you are. Buy the room day to day. I'll be there soon."
We talk a little longer before hanging up the phone, allowing ourselves to tell one another goodnight and that we love each other. I love her so much. Why did you cheat on her? A voice in the back of my head haunts me. Annie won't forgive you. How could she? She trusted you. You broke her trust. I make myself stop thinking and look for Haymitch. I remember he isn't here. He is looking at some kid, seeing if they need to come here. Effie would be just as understanding with the tickets. Sure enough, she is. She buys the tickets the moment I tell her the situation. The tickets were expensive for being last minute, and I'm going to have to stay in Colorado with Annie for two days, but I'm headed off to Colorado tomorrow. Hold on, Annie.
With Julietta safe in her carrier, a yellow baby blanket covering her as she naps, Johanna and I load a van. It's just the three of us going, but Haymitch has the car. Today begins day three of apartment hunting. So far we have seen six different apartments ranging from cheap and dreadful to heavenly and horribly priced. We are going to look at the final three apartment buildings we had decided to look at. The most promising apartment was the fourth one we saw, a two bedroom apartment that was decent in every way. It had no flaws, but it had nothing exciting either. The price was comfortably in our range and the location of the building, though not ideal, was not horrible either.
We drove over to the address of a building on the west side of town made out of red brick and had ivy growing on the side. Needless to say, it was charming to look at. We met our real estate agent and the landlady for the building and found ourselves looking inside the apartment. The apartment was stunning, with a large master bedroom and a decent sized second bedroom, but the apartment itself was far bigger than anything Jo and I ever planned on getting. We decided to look at the final two buildings, but remembered this place.
The second building was similar to the red brick building, except it was gray. The inside of the apartment was about the right size and contained everything we were looking for: a decent master, a decent bedroom, a bigger living room for when everyone came over and will inevitably crash for the night, as well as a medium sized kitchen, not because Johanna and I can cook, but because Peeta can and those nights when everyone does inevitably crash here, Peeta could cook a pretty good meal and four people could fit in there. "What do you think, Jo?" I asked her as we looked around the perfect apartment. Just from the look on her face, I realized our opinions on the apartment were the same.
"I think this might be it, if we can afford it," she said.
Price. Forgot about that one detail. If this is the best place for us, though, and Johanna wants it, I will go out of my way to make sure we can get it. Johanna went over to the landlord to ask him about the price of the apartment as I inspected the rooms closer. There was a backdoor leading to a small, but comfortable balcony. I wouldn't doubt Johanna would let me buy a small television and grill to put out here with a couple of plastic lawn chairs and just have football night with Peeta and Finnick, or let Vick and Rory try some hotdogs and burgers while Posy played with Julietta. It seems perfect. Johanna saw me looking around on the balcony and she came out carrying Julietta. "Babe, the price is just over our budget."
I looked around the balcony one more time and peered into the apartment. "It's perfect."
"Yeah. I don't want to have to settle."
"Johanna, this is our apartment," I said. She looked at me confused. "If the price is just over our budget, we can cut things that we don't need out and I'd work over time, get a part time job if I needed. I can just tell this would be perfect for us."
She smiles. "Are you sure?"
I nod. "Positive." I look at Julietta and smile. "Where else would be a better home for us to raise her?"
I'm the first one to notice the car with Haymitch rolling up to a stop at the front of Graceland. By the looks of it, he brought someone back with him. When Haymitch was telling us the profile of the person, he mentioned a teenage girl, so chances are she will have to stay on the top floor with Finnick, Johanna, Gale and myself, soon to but just Finn and myself. "Effie, Haymitch is back!"
She steps out of the kitchen. "Thank you, Peeta. Do me a favor and stir the stew until I get back."
I do as she is told and go into the kitchen where the smell of lamb and dried plumb stew hits me like a ton of bricks. That is Katniss' favorite stew. We haven't had it since before she left. Effie made it about once every two months. She has a tendency to alternate everyone's favorite dishes, but make sure volunteers and people could cook what they wanted to prepare as well.
After a while I hear the sound of heels clicking on the floor and I can tell Effie is coming. "There are some bags in the car. Mind helping out with them, taking them to the top floor?"
I nod. "Yes ma'am," I say and I find myself going out to the car, picking up a standard black suitcase. Guess the girl is going to be moving in. I wonder what Katniss will think of her when she gets back, if she gets back.
I take the elevator to the top floor because my leg has been bothering me as of late. I hope they don't judge me by the fact I have an artificial leg. I'm sure I'll get my answer soon enough. Do we have enough nintendo DS's to give away one more? What game would we give the girl, Gold or Silver? Who would defeat her in a battle, considering Annie is gone. I guess we will have a new winner to the newcomers Pokemon tournament. I wonder what her favorite pastry will be. Questions like this haunt me on the elevator ride until I find myself at the top, ready to meet this new girl. The girl I see in front of me catches me completely by surprise though. "Hey, Peeta."
I cannot keep the smile from my face and I find myself walking over to the girl. This cannot possibly be Katniss, can it? The girl who fills my every thought, haunts me in my dream and plagues me with her memory. Abandoning the suitcase, I make my way over to her. For once, I am at a loss of words, simply finding myself grabbing at the end of her braid. "Are you for real?" I eventually find myself asking.
She smiles and lets out a small laugh. "What?"
I swallow and let the words come to me again. "Real or not real?"
She smiles and pulls my hand away from her braid and intertwines it in her own. "Real."
Thanks to the 158 of you who added this story to their favorites and the 187 of you who are following this story! I love every single one of you from the bottom of my heart! Thank y'all so much! This story would be no where without y'all!