"When you sleep all day and still get paid,
When the sun goes down we do it all over again.
'Cause when you're on a roll they gotta let ya go,
Right through the back door let the games begin"
Famous-Puddle of Mudd
"Katniss! A little bit faster, if you please!"
It's hard to hear anything over the thrum of the band's loud bass, but somehow I'm able to hear Madge's nagging easily. I turn around to look back at her where she's standing at the back of the bar on the edge of the crowd. I roll my eyes and gesture at the horde of people in front of me angrily, glaring back at my friend while trying to convey my thought of 'What do you want me to do?'
Madge rolls her eyes and gestures at her chest. Her shirt is already a usually modest V-cut, but she's made sure to wear her 'va-voom' bra tonight, so her tits literally popping out the front. Several guys are staring at her and have been tripping all over themselves tonight to buy her drinks. This effect is exactly why she wore that bra tonight and it's an effect she's trying to get me to put into play myself.
I scoff at her and turn back to the crowd in front of me. Every single one of them is vying for the same thing as me: the damn bartender's attention. I've been standing here for what feels like ages and I have yet to be served, and meanwhile the floozies down the bar from me are on their 5th round of shots. I'm thoroughly annoyed by this, especially because one of them has a squished nose and the other one's hair looks like straw, making them an unattractive duo to say the least. I wouldn't say I'm a super model or anything, that's Johanna's department. But still, I should be able to get a drink before those girl. But then I finally see what the bartender sees, now that Madge has pointed it out. There, plain as day, are their godforsaken tits popping right out of their shirts.
I grumble and peek back to make sure Madge isn't looking, then I hike down my own V-cut shirt to an indecent level. It's been a long week and Prim has given me about ten heart attacks, so I'm in no mood to wait any more to get our drinks. Still, no reason for Madge to know I've given in.
I'm not sure if I'm annoyed or pleased when the bartender turns and takes sudden notice of me. He pops me what I'm sure he thinks is his signature smile and leans over on the bar on one arm, tossing his mop of floppy golden hair, to finally take my order.
"Wha'tal it be, sweetheart?" he shouts at me over the music.
I groan inwardly but throw on my best smile and order two whisky sours, a rum 'n' coke, and a fishbowl long island ice tea. The bartender winks in response then turns away to fill up my order. And, despite my annoyance, I fill my time waiting for the drinks by enjoying the way his ass looks in his jeans when he bends over for bottles of liquor.
Hey, who says I can't objectify him too?
In the middle of enjoying my view, I feel a large body sidle up next to me, close enough that it brushes up against my arm. I can tell by the way it feels that it's a tall body, strong and muscular. And distinctly male. And therefore to be avoided. So I make a point of turning myself away from him by propping my right elbow, the one closest to him, on the bar and looking the opposite way, ignoring the sticky feeling of spilt drinks on the surface of the bar.
He doesn't take the hint.
"Hey there," he shouts at me. I continue to ignore him, but he's either too drunk or too stupid to accept defeat. Instead he gives me a solid poke on the shoulder, hard enough to actually jolt me forward. And not just a little bit. I mean, I actually stumble into the girl in front of me, who turns to give me a dirty look before going back to her senseless conversation with her companion.
Sighing, I throw my elbow off the bar and spin to face him. In the process of turning my head I hit him in the face with my hair, which is braided into a single braid that falls over my shoulder. It hits with a thud and, while I've never considered the possibilities before, I'm taking into consideration all the valuable uses of wearing a braid in a bar.
"Whoa," he yells, rubbing the spot on his right cheek where the tie at the end of my hair had smacked him. "Watch it with that."
I don't respond, instead I just stare him down. I expect my glare to make him uncomfortable, but he's either oblivious or used to girls looking at him like that.
It's not that he's not cute or anything. Like I'd thought, his body is tall and muscular, which carries through to his face in the form of a strong jaw-line and high cheekbones. His eyes are bright blue, almost white, and they glitter with mirth. His hair is a dirty blonde which is styled messily, as if he's spent all day in the sack. His grin in wide and contagious, all of the teeth the perfect shade of white and all filed to the same perfect length, and his skin is the sort of bronze you can only achieve with an expensive tanning bed. All in all, he's the picture of health and masculinity. Really, most girls would be melting just by looking at him.
But not me. I don't know if it's the single diamond stud in his right ear, the small gold chain at his neck or the white shirt that's unbuttoned halfway up his chest, but something about this guy screams 'douche'.
And really, who wants a walking, talking vag-cleaner on their arm?
The guy's getting ready to say something again, but he's interrupted by the bartender setting down four drinks in front of me.
"Thirty, seventy five," he says with his "signature" smile.
I balk. "Thirty, seventy-five for four lousy drinks?"
The bartender's smile falls at my outburst. He adopts a firm face and his is casting his eyes around, clearly looking for security in case I decide to get violent. He puts his hands up to me as if he's warding me off, saying, "Hey, I don't set the prices. Big bands equal big prices."
I roll my eyes at the bartender and start to turn away. "Thanks, but no thanks. We'll get drunk afterwards back home where it's free."
I'm walking away, preparing to face two very angry girlfriends and a disappointed sister, when a hard grip seals around my arm, holding me in place. It's Douche-Guy.
"Hey," he shouts his a classic pretty-boy smile. "No problem. The drinks are on me."
I scoff at him and spit out, "I think we'll manage just fine. We don't need a guy to-"
I flinch. It's Prim this time. She bouncing up to me, her blonde curls flouncing with her movement while her birthday tiara glitters in the bar lights. Tonight is Prim's twenty-first birthday, and the fact she's my baby sister is the only reason I've set foot in this bar tonight. That and our old friend Gale's band is playing tonight. I instantly feel guilty, knowing I'm about ready to ruin her night.
"Hey, Prim," I yell at her over the blaring music. "The drink prices here are ridiculous. We'll just have to go back home to-"
"Aw, Katniss!" Prim sighs, throwing her head back in desperation. "Come on. It's a Saturday and Gale's band is popular, what did you expect?"
"Thirty, seventy-five!" I retort. "Thirty, seventy-fucking-five, Prim."
"Oh forget it," Prim snaps, pulling out her wallet and stepping up to the bar where our drinks still sit. "I'll buy them."
"Priiiim," I groan, following her up there. "No, don't…"
But before I can finish my plea a big, manly hand slaps down two twenties. Douche-Guy to the rescue, apparently. Or so he seems to think. He throws a smile at Prim, who's caught totally off-guard by his appearance.
"Don't worry, sweetheart," he bellows with a smile. "Can't have the birthday girl paying for the drinks, can we?"
Prim puts up a prettily manicured hand, courtesy of Madge, and giggles behind it.
"Thanks," she shouts sweetly to him, batting her eyelashes like the ignorant fool I swear she is sometimes. It's not that my sister is stupid by any means, in fact she's far more observant than I'd like, but she has this naive trust for everyone and thing that tends to get her into trouble, especially around guys who don't deserve it.
And so I can see where this is going and I don't like it one bit. I charge forward to separate the two with my body and shove the long island and rum 'n' coke in Prim's hands and take the two whiskey sours in mine.
"Sorry," I roar at him, probably a little louder than the music warrants. "But we have to get back to our friends. I'm sure you understand."
Douche-Guy's smile fades to a scowl and two lines form between his eyebrows at the same time a vein starts to pulse in his forehead as he stares down at me, his face warping from sweet and flirty to angry and violent faster than I could truly process the change.
"Now wait just a minute," he growls. "I paid forty bucks for those! The least you could do is stop and thank me."
"What's going on?" calls a strong, female voice.
It's Johanna, of course. She's standing there with her hands on her bare hips, glaring at Douche-guy. She cuts an intimidating figure tonight, dressed in a grey leather corset that exposes her mid-drift and black skinny jeans that accentuate her ass. The outfit verges on "bimbo", but she's tied her hair back in a sleek ponytail and has killer stiletto boots on, modeled after army boots. She looks like a warrior princess, which I'm thankful for tonight because she turns Douche-Guy speechless.
"Who's this?" Johanna asks, looking back and forth between Prim, Douche-Guy and me.
Douche-Guy's smile has reappeared at the arrival of another woman and he sticks his hand out to her. I'm pretty sure he thinks he's dazzling her when he tosses his head to flop his hair over and says, "Cato, ma'am. And you?"
"Thirsty," she says. She seizes the rum 'n' coke out of one of Prim's hands, then takes her by the arm and steers her away without another word.
I smirk at Johanna and start to follow, but not without turning back to give Douche-Guy/Cato a parting, "Thanks!" to which he responds with a glare and middle-finger flip-off. I'd return the gesture, but I'm still holding the whiskey sours and he's not worth the risk of spilling a drop of the alcohol he so kindly bought for us.
So I follow Johanna and Prim though the crowd, shaking my head for the hundredth time tonight at the difference in their appearances. Johanna is tall and menacing in her attire. Next to her, Prim looks like a lost fairy. She's wearing a new dress Madge made her. It's dark blue with a puffy skirt made of tulle and has a black corset for a bodice. It's cut high in the front for modesty, but Madge couldn't resist leaving the area behind the laces at the back of the bodice open to reveal a little skin. Prim's wearing sheer stockings laced with glitter and strappy, blue stilettos to match her dress. Her blonde hair is left down, at Johanna's suggestion, and Madge and Johanna had taken turns curling and styling it, topping it off with a silver "Birthday Girl" crown to ensure she'd have an endless supply of free drinks though the night. I'd been upset when I saw it all on her, worried someone would take an unhealthy interest in my baby sister, but so far all that's happened is she's been wished a few "happy birthdays". And she'd just saved me $30.75 in drinks, so my feelings on the matter have slightly improved.
Johanna and Prim arrive to Madge first, who's jumping up and down in excitement. She's disappointed when she realizes neither Johanna or Prim have her drink, but her faces lights up again when she sees me coming with hers and mine. She's on me in a second, swiping her drink out of my hands and throwing an arm around me. She lets her arm hang low over my chest and tugs at the neckline of my shirt.
"I told you," she says slyly. "The tits work."
I scowl and shrug her off, wishing I'd thought to pull my shirt back up before I'd come back over here. I reach to pull it up, but Madge smacks my hand away and puts her drink back in my hand. And then she reaches over to pull my neckline even lower.
"Come on, Katniss," she says as she does it. I attempt to fight her off, but with my hands full with two very expensive drinks, I'm helpless. "We're at a bar to see a rock band. I know you're reserved and all and believe me, I get it. But lighten up a little tonight. It's Prim's birthday and we get to see Gale."
I'm about to whip out a snarly retort, but I'm cut short as Madge sticks her hand down my cleavage. She curls her fingers and gives each of my tits a small lift, raising them up in my bra. I glance around quickly, worried someone will see what she's doing and make a scene, but one of the opening bands is on and stage now and they're good, so everyone's too busy enjoying the show to see what Madge is doing. Once she's done she pulls my shirt down further to expose my improved cleavage and steps back to survey her work.
"You'll do," she says with a smile.
I'm flabbergasted, unable to come up with anything to say to counteract what has just happened. Madge is usually right there with me on the reserved side of things. We'd both dressed modestly tonight in simple, standard-wash skinny jeans that are a moderate rise on our hips with black, V-neck shirts and our favorite jackets, hers a beat-up denim belonging to her long-distance boyfriend and mine an old, beat-up red leather jacket that belonged to my dead father. And, to class things up, we've both got on sets of black stilettos, which I can tell are killing her as much as me based on how often she's shifting from one foot to the other.
But tonight is a little different for Madge, hence the tit-popping and stilettos. See, the long-distance boyfriend who's jacket she's wearing is my old friend Gale, who's band in back in town to kick off their cross-country tour. She's been missing him like crazy and has been obsessing over every single tabloid article about his exploits with girls on the road. Luckily Madge has a straight head and knows better than to be sucked into the lies, but that doesn't mean she's not going to make sure he remembers just what exactly has been waiting for him at home. So, she's put on her 'va-voom' bra tonight to make sure that V-neck has something to show off and has piled her hair up sexily on top of her head. She's right to do it, she's gorgeous and Gale is going to freak when he sees her, but she'd been sort of self-conscious when she realized I wasn't right there with her in the outfit department. We've always kind of stuck together after college, she and I. So when one of us goes out on a limb it's scary when the other doesn't follow.
So I let my shirt stay that way. For Madge, I tell myself.
Madge takes her drink back from me and takes a long gulp, then shudders and coughs. Prim gives her a quizzical look while Johanna cackles openly.
"Strong," Madge croaks out with a smile.
I frown and take a sniff of my drink, then wince. Holy crap, no wonder these drinks are so expensive. I'm pretty sure this is 90% whiskey and only 10% sour. Is Gale's band that bad that they have to get the audience drunk to keep them from booing them off the stage?
I've never actually seen Gale perform, which is ridiculous considering how long we've known each other. I've known him since we were seven, ever since we were forever tied together by the mining accident that killed both of our fathers. And when the fancy prep school in the city started giving out scholarships, Gale and I had been on the list to get them, along with Johanna. We'd bound together as the group of outcast scholarship kids, all three of us carrying a distaste for the city kids to match their aversion to us. But somehow Madge, the daughter of a wealthy band manager in the city, had decided that she was enamored with us. She'd taken a while to break into our group, but she was nothing like the other kids in the school, which made her a bit of an outcast too. We'd become pretty fast friend and she started spending every day with us, which really seemed to piss Gale off to no end. Gale had pretty much resented her, or so I thought, up until Junior year. That was when I caught him sucking her face off behind the gym. They'd been pretty inseparable since then.
That is, until college. Despite her father's begging, Madge stayed behind with me to go to the local college. Gale had gotten another scholarship, this time to attend some fancy arts school in New York who'd actually found him though his application to a different school where his hidden talent had been a video of him playing the bass. And after he'd graduated, Madge's dad helped him and his buddies get signed to a record label. They'd been a big hit and have been touring like crazy for the last few years, opening for bigger band to build a fan base. It's been hard on Madge, but I think the reunions must be pretty fantastic, because she's stuck with him consistently through it all. It probably helps that even though he could only ever spare one night back every few months, and he'd always spent those nights with Madge.
I'd only seen him one time since graduation during a long weekend in Sophomore year when Gale and I had been able to scrape together enough money between the two of us for me to come for a few days. It has been pretty uneventful, we'd mostly sat around in his dorm room writing songs together. I'm pretty sure I met his roommate, who is apparently a band-mate now, but I don't really remember much other than how right it felt to be with Gale again after missing my friend so much. I don't even really remember if he was good at the bass or not during our sessions and I'm now frustrated with myself for not paying closer attention.
And so today is our first time seeing him play with his band, "Misery's Fortune". Hell, this was our first time hearing his band. It has surprised us all when Gale announced he was going into the music business with some buddies he'd met in college, even though it really shouldn't have since he was going to school for his music. I guess none of us thought he'd take it farther than that, but he'd surprised us by not just doing it, but becoming pretty damn well-known in the process. But Gale had made Madge promise she wouldn't listen to any of the recorded music they'd put out last summer. He wanted the first time she heard their music to be live. And this was their first headlining tour and therefore the first time they'd had any say in the tour locations. I couldn't afford to make it to any of their shows and Madge was terrified of traveling alone, which had been a large factor in her staying behind for college. So Gale had made a point of requesting Panem, our hometown, for the first date on their tour.
And, apparently, we weren't supposed to see them until they started playing. Gale had wanted Madge to hide so he wouldn't see her before their set and get nervous. So Madge is herding us to a booth to chill in until they start. Johanna whines about not we're not going to be able to see anything once they start, but Gale had promised Madge that someone from security would escort us up to the front just before they started.
We slide into the booth at the back of the bar, the one with Madge's name on it. She blushes at when she sees it, brushing it aside so no one will see it. Honestly, you'd think a girl who's dad is in the music business would be used to special treatment like this at concerts. But Madge is humble and never expectant of any special treatment. In fact, she avoids it whenever possible. And this is probably why she's probably my very best friend, beside Prim of course.
This thought makes me look over at my baby sister as we slide in and I'm horrified to see that her fishbowl Long Island is over half-way gone, and she's still slurping away at the straw. She must sense my disapproving gaze because she raises her head to look up at me, a guilty smile already on her face. She shrugs at me, not in an apologetic way but in more of a 'what can you do?' gesture. I try not to fret, I really do. But through the death of my father, my mother's dip into depression and Gale leaving me behind...well, Prim is the only thing in life I'm sure of anymore. The only person I am certain I love. And I'd known this day, her 21st birthday, would be hard for me. She wants me to be here to celebrate with her, but I also know that she's hoping I'll be able to back off for one night. And so I try to relax, sitting back in my corner of the booth to sip my whiskey sour and attempt to not keep tabs on the level of her drink.
Which is going pretty well for me until a tall, dark-skinned man in all black comes over and deposits fresh duplicates of our drinks at our booth.
"From Mr. Hawthorne," he says with a smile. I can hear him easily now that the band who'd just been playing has stepped down to let "Misery's Business" set up. The noise of their tuning and sound-checks is still an annoyance, and I think I can hear Gale's voice a few times, but it's still minimal enough that shouting at the top of our lungs isn't necessary. "He said for Ms. Katniss to...relax and let her sister enjoy her night." My jaw drops at this and Prim's hiding a giggle behind her hand again. "And to tell you ladies that they'll be starting the set in the next couple of minutes. I'll be back in five to take you to the front of the stage."
I feel Madge stiffen beside me at his words. Everyone else thanks the man, who's carrying away our empty classes, but I've turned my attention to Madge. Her face has gone pale, but I can see bright splotches of red rising on her cheeks and chest.
"Madge?" I ask softly so only she can hear me. "What's wrong?"
"Wrong?" she squeaks out, bowing her head and refusing to meet my eyes. "Why would you think something's wrong?"
I give a short laugh at this. "Honestly, Madge, how long have we known each other?"
Madge lifts her head to look at me now, a sheepish smile on her face. "I know. You're right." She sighs and slumps back in the booth, bringing her drink with her so she can sip on it while she sulks. "I guess I'm just nervous. I mean, I haven't seen him in months. And I've been eating all that cheese Prim's been bringing over...I just can't seem to help myself, it's so rich and creamy and-"
I hold up my hand to stop her, shocked by what I think my beautiful, slender friend is alluding to. "Madge," I ask, "are you having weight worries?"
Madge tries to look away from me and gives a nervous little titter of a laugh. "No...well, I mean, maybe. I mean, I've put on a few pounds since the last time he saw me..." She trails off at the stony look on my face.
"You. Are. Not. Fat." I say each word slowly and individually to emphasize my point. "Honestly, Madge, since when do you worry about that stuff? Are the tabloids getting to you?"
She bristles at this. "No!" she insists. "I'm just nervous about seeing him again, ok? You've never done the long distance thing before, Katniss. You don't know what it's like."
I open my mouth to give a snappy retort about how there's a reason I don't do relationships period, but Madge is saved from by my anger by Prim, who's noticed the tension and has jumped in quickly to change the subject. She's quickly moving Madge on to different, happier topics, leaving me to my turn at sulking in the booth.
Before I feel I'm sufficiently done pouting the big dark-skinned man is back at our table, ready to escort us to the front of the crowd. Johanna follows ahead first, blazing a trail behind the man easily, making room for Prim to skip happily behind her as if she's turned 12 and not 21. But the crowd quickly swarms up again behind Prim, leaving Madge and I to elbow our way through the bodies to keep up. The man has led us along the left edge of the crowd where the density is the least, so I can't imagine what it's like at the center.
He turns right after a moment or two as we reach the front of the crowd and gestures to a small area that's been gated off from the crowd to protect us from any violent thrashing that may occur. He gives us a small smile, asks us if we need any more drinks and, to my horror, takes an order for another Long Island for Prim. I open my mouth to protest but Madge gives me a sharp look and Johanna reaches over and sinks her nails into the skin of my arm, effectively hushing me. I take a deep breath and remind myself that tonight is about my sister having a good time and Madge getting to see Gale. I'm just along for the ride and, therefore, should just stand back and shut it.
The small gated area set for us is dead center in front of the stage but set back far enough we don't have to crane our necks to look up at them. I see Gale off to our right, his bass slung over his shoulders and hung low near his pelvis as he runs a quick stream of notes in one last check. He's dressed in jeans and his custom white shirt, which is typical Gale attire and something I find soothing to see. He doesn't look much changed, which is a relief, except for the few tattoos here and there that I can see on his wrists and upper arms. I look over at Madge to see what she thinks, but she doesn't seem concerned so none of this must be new changes. I'm amused to see a glitter at his left eyebrow and I realize that he's got an eyebrow piercing. Interesting.
I take a moment to survey the rest of the group. I immediately know who I'll see behind the drums. Gale's brother, Rory, is in the band too. Rory had forgone his college scholarship, much to the frustration of both Gale and their mother, and had elected to take an apprenticeship at the Justice Building. We'd all known it was a stupid idea and that Rory wouldn't be the least bit happy, but he was sure it was a fast-track way to the money the family so desperately needed. And Rory had promised Gale he'd take care of the family until Gale's band got established, so he'd stuck with it as long as possible. But a few months ago when the band's drummer had flaked out of them, Gale had made a call to Rory to come join him in New York. Rory had won over the other band members easily and was immediately inducted into the band as the drummer. And it suites him. He has a bandana folded over into a strip tied around his forehead, which looks pretty comical on him when he has his tongue stuck out like that in concentration while testing and adjusting his drums. His eyes flick out to the audience momentarily and he spots us. He gives us a quick wave before casting a look at the back of Gale's head, remembering the rule about not seeing us. He gives us a guilty smile, then goes back to his adjustments.
There are two other people in the band, both with blonde hair. One of the blonde boys is standing back to the left with a guitar slung low over his pelvis like Gale. He's wearing a pair of loose blue jeans that are ripped at the knees with a black shirt and a beat-up black leather jacket. He's standing with his head down, making adjustments to the strings, and the only impression I get of him is strong, wide shoulders and a mop of curly, hay-blonde hair.
The other blonde, though, is stunning and impossible to ignore. He's not really blonde, exactly. If I was forced to describe it, I would probably use the word "bronze". He's tall and lean with the body of a long distance runner or swimmer. He's wearing a set of relatively tight black jeans that hang low on his hips. His shirt is a simple white to match Gale's, but it rides high while he holds on to the microphone, running his last mic checks before they start, and we can see the delicious "V" of his hips in the exposed strip of skin. His eyes flick down to us and he gives us a mischievous smile. I'm hit with the impression of sea-green waves baring down on me when our eyes meet briefly. But just as quickly he moves his gaze back to the man at the right side of the stage who's controlling his microphone's volume, giving him a series of thumbs up or down until he's satisfied with the level.
"I call the singer," Johanna hisses to me and Prim. Prim giggles and I know she's not upset by this, because my baby sister has always had a thing for Rory Hawthorne, who I know is the real reason she'd been so eager to come here tonight.
I surprise myself by saying, "Go ahead, Jo. You can have him."
And I'm being truthful when I say this because I really have no interest in the singer. I can appreciate what a fine specimen he is and I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't enjoy a quick tumble in a bed with him for the fun of it. But my interest in him stops there, making him not worth the fight with Johanna for his attentions.
And then, suddenly, the band must be satisfied with their sound checks. Some unseen signal goes though the group, and then Rory's counting off and the music starts, making the crowd thrum with excitement.
Gale's the first one to start, his fingers sliding effortlessly over the stings of his bass as he starts out with a simple, mournful medley. It seems to draw the crowd in as they hold their breath, waiting to see what song the band will start with. And then the singer croons something into the mic the sets the crowd off, an apparent giveaway to the song, and then the band launches headfirst into a hard, bass-heavy song.
Gale's more comfortable than I've ever seen him. He's got the bass slung over his hips and it seems to be a part of him, moves with him as he shifts his hips to reach the note he's looking for. He's stoic and serene for most of the song, except for when he gives one of his band mates an excited smile. I can feel Madge hopping up and down beside me and I know that this is probably one of the best nights of her life, getting to see her boyfriend after months of separation and finally getting to see him play his music.
The singer's voice is smooth as butter through the more melodic lyrics, but most of the time he's in a near growl and I can feel Johanna, along with every other girl in the bar, swoon with his words. He's intense and jumping with the music, holding the microphone close to his lips, as if he needs it to breathe. He moves around a little to move with his band-mates, but he's sure to make sure he's in constant contact with the audience, looking over the crowd passionately. But despite his connection with the audience I can tell he's still so in tune with the band, especially Rory, who it taking all of his beat cues from the singer. I can tell Prim is in tune with Rory too, because she's bobbing with all of his hits, not just with the beat.
But, then something hits in the music and the guitar rings through the air and my eyes are immediately pulled the blonde guitar player, who's head is still dipped intently over his guitar. But I'm entranced by the way he's moving now, slinging his guitar off to the side when he lets a string of notes play out, and I can see by the way he's moving his body that he's been sucked into the music with the rest of his band. I can tell he's particularly in sync with Gale, following his cues as he takes them from Rory. His hips dip forward as he follows a string of particularly sexy notes that makes my breath catch in my throat. A part of me is surprised with myself. I mean, really, when did strings of notes become sexy to me? But then he finally lifts his head to give Gale a smile and my heart stops.
There, in front of me, are the bluest eyes I have ever see. If the singer's were sea-green, this guitarist's are Caribbean blue. And right in the middle of another one of his hip-dips, they lock onto mine. And I'm a goner in that moment.
Katniss Everdeen does not do romance.
Katniss Everdeen does not do love at first sight.
But Katniss Everdeen does fuck.
And I promise myself that someday, I'm going to fuck this man. I don't know when, I'm not sure where, and I'm still formulating the how as I watch him play. But I know that, one day, this man is going to be in my bed. And it's going to be hot.
"I changed my mind," Johanna hisses in my ear again. "I want the guitar player."
I shove her way, playing it as a joke. But I'm genuinely irritated with her this time when I respond to her claim.
"You already picked yours. The guitar player is mine," I snap at her.
Johanna's eyes widen but she leans back, biting her lip to hold back a smile. Madge turns and gives me a surprised look, tilting her head to the side as if trying to decipher if I'm serious. I give her a look that lets her know that I am very, very serious about this. She gives me a pleased half-smile, then goes back to enjoying the show her boyfriend is putting on for the crowd. Prim looks at me quizzically, having missed the exchange. I don't bother trying to explain it to her, instead giving her a happy smile that always pacifies her. It works again today, because she returns her gaze back to the stage.
The songs shifts then into something slower but more intense. Less jumping around, more leaning into instruments while the singer grips the microphone stand intently. This gives the boys a chance to look over the crowd, who's practically humming as the new song brings them down from the intensity of the last one. Gale's eyes finally meet Madge's and I see him light up with excitement. He wink's in Madge's direction, to which she responds by blowing a kiss. He shakes his head at her but smiles, then returns his attention to the rest of the band. Rory sees Gales exchange with Madge and, taking it as a sign that communication with us is now allowed, his gives us a quick wave while the sound of the singer's voice and the guitar lazily circle the bar alone. But the reprieve is short, because within seconds Rory's sticks are back on his drums and the music picks up in intensity.
This song is more my style, something to grind to slowly instead of hopping around like a mad woman. Without thinking about it, I feel my hips start to move in small, slow figure eights to the beat of the music. I look over at Madge to see she's swaying too, her eyes locked so purposefully on Gale with a look so lustful I feel as though I've interrupted something very personal. I tear my eyes away from her to look at Johanna, who's biting her bottom lip as she watches the singer move on the stage, sliding the microphone stand up his body once or twice in a way that has her eyes widening. And then there's sweet little Prim, who's face is one of pure, innocent joy and watching two of the men we've grown up with doing something so exciting.
But then my eyes are drawn back to the stage by the sound of guitar. He's playing a solo this time, whereas last time it had just been a moment of intense guitar amid the other instruments. His skills are being allowed to really show now and I wonder how I'm going to make it through the show if he's going to be doing this repeatedly. I glance around the rest of the audience, wondering if anyone else is feeling the same way, and I'm frustrated to see that, yes, other women are ogling him in the same way as me. Which shouldn't be so upsetting to me, but it is. I mean, hadn't I staked a claim? Sure, only Johanna heard it, but the power of my possession should have been strong enough for every estrogen-filled, self-preserving person in the audience should have known he was not theirs to take. Right?
I'm able to take in appearance a little more now that I'm not being trapped by those eyes. He's got an eyebrow piercing to match Gale's, which has me wondering if the two maybe got them together. He's got a tattoo on his upper right arm and something around his left wrist, but he's actually pretty clean for a guitarist in a rock band. He's cleanly shaven, which lets me admire his strong jaw and the curve of his lips. He's got a smirk on his face now and I can tell he enjoys playing this song more than the other one, probably because he really gets to tear up the guitar in this one. I'm blown away as I watch his finger move swiftly over the strings as he slides from one note together in a run that seems to go on forever, rising in intensity until he slams on the last note, dropping the guitar in a dramatic dip as he ends it. And then he raises his head again and, without hesitation, he looks right at me for the second time tonight.
Madge leans over, pressing her lips almost completely against my ear, to whisper to me, "Peeta is looking at you."
I'm startled by this, turning my head to look at her so suddenly that our noses brush. Madge, inebriated, giggles at this.
"Don't kiss me," she sputters, biting her lip to hold in her giggles.
I ignore her, asking, "Who's Peeta?"
Madge rolls her eyes and tilts her head toward the stage. "Peeta! The guitar player..."
My eyes shoot to the stage and I see that his eyes haven't looked away my face through the whole time he plays. I'm caught off guard by his steady gaze and I feel the warmth of his gaze travel straight from my head, through my head and down to my pelvis, where it pools between my legs, creating a delicious ache. I realize, utterly embarrassed by the thought, that he must see something in my eyes because he gives me a shy smile and wink before turning back to make eye contact with Gale before they traverse into a section of particularly tricky notes together.
"I can introduce you later, if you like," Madge shouts in my ear, loud enough that both Johanna and Prim can hear what she says.
Prim tugs eagerly at my jacket sleeve, grinning at me excitedly.
"Oh please, Katniss," she begs me sweetly. "Can we please?"
Johanna snorts. "Do what you like. I'm going to meet that singer whether you give me a formal introduction or not."
Madge rolls her eyes at Johanna. "Finnick? Trust me, you'll need to me give you a formal introduction if you want to get anywhere near him. They get practically mauled after every performance, so security rushes them straight off stage to their dressing room and only pre-approved parties are allowed in there, and only after the bar is cleared out for the night."
I smirk at Madge, seeing where she's going. "But I bet, being the bassist's main squeeze, you're pre-approved."
Madge returns my smirk with a wide wink. "We all are, obviously. Gale's excited to see all of us and wants to introduce us to Peeta and Finnick. They're all practically brothers now, an on-road family. So I have to pass Peeta and Finnick's approval before we can join in."
I frown at Madge, worried by the last bit of this statement. "What do you mean 'join in'?"
But Madge doesn't get a chance to explain, because the music has changed again, back into something loud and face-paced. I can make out something along the lines of 'we'll explain later' and then she's turned back to the stage to watch Gale. I watch her for a minute, remembering all the other plans of Madge's that, well-meaning as they were, had gone array. I can't help think that this could be another one. But sitting here and fretting over it isn't going to help anything, so I turn away from Madge and resume my drooling over a certain blue-eyed guitar player.
So...this fic kind of got away from me. I'm currently writing Kindled Ember, which is a more serious, post-mockingjay fic I've been wanting to write for a long time. It's a story near and dear to my heart that I just have to tell, but unfortunately stuff like this has no place in it. So this was supposed to sort of be a drabble for myself to vent all of my sexual frustrations for "Kindled Ember" into...but, as can happen, the little shit evolved into a full-fledged story. Once I hit 45 pages I realized I not only had to post it, but it was going to be a short-story instead of a one-shot.
And so I bring you "Seize Me" :)
In case anyone is a crazy person like me and need music to go with the story, I kind of envisioned a song similar to "Famous" by Puddle of Mudd as the first song their band plays. For the second one, I was inspired by "Shackled" by Vertical Horzion. Oh, and yes, I am a 90s child :)
Hit me up on tumblr, you'll find me under the name "simplyabbeycat" over there.
Love and kisses!