Beneath the Lettering
WARNING: Sorry, most of the facts are wrong and I am planing to fix them.
I watch as Peeta pulls on his Marine uniform. This is his fourth tour of Afghanistan. It never gets easier, watching him pack and get ready to leave. If anything it gets harder. His First tour was the worst though.
It was a cold winter day. It was my 20th birthday. I had spent the day with Madge, Delly, Prim, and Annie. We had gone shopping. Annie had just gotten engaged to Finnick a week before. We were all happy for her. Madge and Gale had gotten married six months before. Delly and Thom were just getting serious about their relationship. But Peeta and I had been dating for four years. All of the guys, except Thom who would be joining them a month later, were leaving for Afghanistan in two weeks. It would be Gale, Thom, and Finnick's second tour and Peeta's first. That night they threw me a surprise party. All our friends and family came. There was delicious food, dancing, loud music, games…. everything. I got to forget about losing Peeta for a year for a few hours. When it was time to blow out the candles and cut the cake, Peeta stood up on a table and said he had an announcement. He hoped off and grabbed my wrist. He pulled me to the middle of the large living room and faced me. I was so confused. Peeta knelt down. Pulled out a ring and said "Katniss Bell Everdeen, I love you so much. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I have loved you for as long as I can remember. I love everything about you. Would you please give me the immense honor of marrying you?" Tears spilled from my eyes. I was so shocked. I loved this man kneeling in front of me with all my heart.
"Yes, Peeta Dylan Mellark, I will marry you." I said then kissed him feverishly. He slid the ring on my finger and spun me around. We cut the cake and danced all night.
Then two weeks later they left. Madge and Annie found out they were pregnant a month after they left. Annie suffered a miscarriage and Finnick was allowed to come home for two weeks to comfort his heartbroken fiancée. It was good to see him. He told us all the stories they had made. Madge went on to have Gale's first child, a boy named Ethan Ford Hawthorne. He had blond hair like his mother and grey eyes like his father, even as a baby he looked like his father. Gale was given one month off.
Annie and I planned our weddings. Hers was to be two months after they came home. Mine a month after hers. I had almost everything picked out. Peeta and I communicated though letters. I would send him pictures and he would tell me if he liked them or not in the next letter. We would also just tell each other about what was happening in an additional letter we would include in the envelope. Weeks past this way, the weeks turned into months. And when the final month came, I counted the days. Then on the final day I counted the hours. I waited in the airport counting the minutes. We were all there. Madge with Ethan cradled in her arms. Annie, Delly, and I held hands. I had my other hand on Madge's shoulder. Finnick was the first to show. Annie released her hand from Delly and her mother's and ran into Finnick's arms. Finnick dropped his bag and picked her up. Kissing her with a passion. Thom was next to emerge. Delly ran into his arms and kissed him to. Next was Gale. Madge, unable to run with Ethan, handed him to Hazelle, Gale's Mother, and ran to him. I watched as other men and women run to their families and lovers. And I waited there. Thoughts arose in my head. What if he wasn't supposed to come home to day? Or maybe he is just stuck on the plane. I still counted the minutes. Then after ten minutes of counting a blond headed blue-eyed man walked though the doors. And then our eyes met. My heart gushed at the sight of him. I started to walk, then fastened into a jog, then a run then a sprint. Peeta did the same. The world around me stopped spinning. I crashed into Peeta. Smacking my lips in to his. I was the one who had to wait the longest to see my love. I inhale Peeta's natural scent that I missed so. Kissing him repeatedly. We break the kiss and stare into each other's eyes.
"I missed you so much" I say to him.
"I missed you beyond compare" he replied then kissed me one last time.
Peeta's family ran up and hugged him and told him how much they missed him. Finnick, Thom, and Gale's families did the same. After we were all done we piled into the cars. I rode with Peeta and His family. They still owned their Old Town and Country. I sat next to Peeta holding his hand in mine. Peeta watched as we drove to our hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina.
"I missed this place," Peeta said. We made it to the Mellark Bakery and then we went to the Mellark's home. I helped Peeta unpack and we sat in his room. Peeta repeatedly said, "I missed this place" and would pick up an item and say, "I missed this". Peeta and I soon took a walk along the beach. He turned to me and said, "I missed a lot of things while I was gone but I missed you by far the most." Then kissed me. After that we tried to get back to the daily routine. Annie and Finnick's wedding was beautiful. It was set on the beach. Annie's gown fit her like a glove and Finnick looked devilishly handsome. My wedding soon snuck up on me. Peeta and I had picked out a house on the coast and were suppose to move in after our honeymoon. The day of my wedding, I woke up to Cinna and an oddly dress prep team. Cinna is a long time friend. He agreed to make my wedding dress and help prep me for my wedding. Cinna, My Bridesmaids, the prep team, and I all drove together to the Venue. There we were all got ready together. Cinna made my wedding dress a strapless ball gown with a sweet heart neckline. The dress was made out of silk that hugged me in all the right places and showed of the curves of my body perfectly. My bridesmaids, who included Annie, Prim, Madge, Delly, Johanna, and Effie, wore forest green strapless dresses that fell to their knees. Each one's hair was in curls and a sunset orange carnation corsage on their wrists. Peeta's Groomsmen would wear a black suit and Sunset orange tie and flower to match the girls' corsages. I had my hair up in a fancy braided bun and a veil falling elegantly from it. I remember my mother walking up behind me after I had just stepped into my heels and just finished applying the last bit of makeup. I was staring in the mirror.
"You look like a beautiful bride," she said. She removed her necklace and put it on me. "Your father gave this to me on our wedding day. I want you to have it." I touch the medallion softly. My Father had died in a car crash. It hurt all of us tremendously. It was a silver chain and a blue tanzanite gem placed inside it. I turned to her.
"I can't take this," I say softly.
"I want you to have it. It's your wedding day. It will bring good luck. I love you, Kat." She says then kisses me on the forehead.
"I love you too, mom," I say.
After that Effie started running around the room yelling, "It's show time!" Effie wasn't only a bridesmaid but my wedding planner and hated being late. We all stood in a front of the large doors that lead to the outside ceremony. Music started playing; Rory and Prim were the first ones to go, then Delly and Thom, then Gale and Madge, then Effie and Haymitch, then Johanna and her boyfriend Alec. Annie and Finnick being the Best man and Maid of honor walk down the isle last. Here Comes the Bride music plays and the sound of everyone standing up filled my ears. Butterflies rise in the pit of my stomach. My mother looped her arm with mine. The doors open and I lock eyes with Peeta. He is wearing his Marines uniform. His smile reached ear to ear. When I reached the podium mother kissed my cheek and handed me over to Peeta. I took Peeta's hands in mine and just knew we would make it though anything. That day was magical. We both said, "I do" and placed each other's ring on our fingers. The kiss we shared was just perfect. The food was magnificent. Our first dance was so sweet I could taste it on my tongue. Peeta made the cake. I was amazed at the skill Peeta had. Peeta and I drove off in his beat up 2004 Honda Civic. We drove to the airport and flew to Thailand. It was a perfect three weeks we were there we went swimming, hiking, swimming with dolphins, and relaxed. A year after our marriage Peeta was asked to serve another tour of 6 months with Finnick, Thom, Gale, and Alec. He accepted. I remember that was our first real fight. I remember falling to my knees crying. Him holding me as I wept. I asked him "What if you die out there?"
"Kat, Marines don't die, they go to hell and regroup," he said smiling.
"Peeta, I'm being serious," I said glaring at him.
"I won't die, cross my heart," he said drawing an X over his chest. I mirror the action. It was something we did all the time when one of use was unsure about something. Heck, we even did it when one of us wanted to try a new sandwich and the other thought it would be disgusting. It was just our way of saying 'Nothing is going to go wrong'. When he left I cried for two nights strait. Annie had again found out she was pregnant but this time she did go full term and had their little baby boy, Bay Crest Odair. He had his father's hair and his mother's eyes. He looked more like Annie than Finnick. She had him two nights after the boys got home. Finnick was the proudest father but you could tell he wished he were there for her during her pregnancy. She stayed with me for most of her pregnancy for both of two reasons. She was completely terrified that she would lose this one too and It felt so completely alone in my house that I couldn't stand it anymore so when Annie asked if she could stay a few nights I welcomed her in full-heartedly. Never in my life have I ever felt so alone. Again a year after he came home he was offered another 6 month tour with the boys. And again he accepted. But before they left Delly and Thom where wed. It was beautiful and you could feel the love generating off of them. Then they left for another tour. The house felt so empty. I felt so alone. A few weeks after they left I found out I was pregnant. Right when I got home that day I wrote Peeta a letter and called up the girls. My ear hurt from all the screaming and shouting but it was worth it. Peeta's return letter, if paper could shout, would I would have been deaf right there. I made it four months, and then I lost him. I remember falling down the stairs and landed on my side. I called Madge, being the one who lived closet to me. She drove me the hospital as fast as she could without getting pulled over. But it was too late. With my fall I ruptured the Amniotic sac. Killing the baby instantly. I may have been lonely the year before but never was I so low. I blamed it all on myself. It was me who fell it was me who ruptured the Amniotic sac. I'm the reason I lost my baby. Peeta came home for a few weeks. I cried into his shoulder each night. He never saw me so low so venerable. He wanted his son too but he never thought it would hurt me so bad if I lost him. For the rest of his tour I just sat around went to work and sat alone at home. Even when Peeta returned the routine didn't change. For the first while I didn't even let him touch me. I felt like I took his child away from him. He told me he shouldn't have left again. But I told him it was what he enjoys doing. Two years past and Peeta denies the next offer. Told them that he spent a little too much time away from his wife. During those two years we tried for another baby but came up empty. I told Peeta that the next time they offer him a spot with Finn and the boys that he had to take it. He told her he didn't want to leave me again but I refuse his rejection and told him again. After arguing about it for a week Peeta finally gave up. And two months later another offer of this time an 8 month tour came up and the boys where going along too, he accepted. Not even a week later I took a test and it came up positive. I told everyone about it and Peeta told me he shouldn't have accepted. I told him it made everything a little easier knowing that he would be happy with the boys.
And here we are, Peeta getting ready to leave and me sitting here pregnant. Prim moved in a week ago. Her now being 21 years old, I asked her to move in and help me with the baby. And this tour around I didn't want to be alone. I need someone to watch and help me.
"Katniss, if you don't want me to go I can call up and tell them something came up and I can't go." Peeta says.
"Peeta we both know Sargent Boggs wouldn't like that" I reply. " And the boys wouldn't like you skipping out on them." Peeta nods and tries to tighten his belt but fails. I walk up to him and fix it. He smiles at how I can tighten it in seconds but he has been struggling with it for minutes. His hat still sits on the nightstand. Peeta kneels down and kisses my small three-month bump.
"I love you," Peeta bubbled. He stands and kisses me on the lips. "And I love you."
"I love you too," I bubble back. "Ready to go?"
"Yeah just one thing," Peeta says the walks over to his nightstand opens up the top drawer and pulls out a blue box. He walks over and opens it. A beautiful wristwatch sits nicely inside. Peeta pulls the watch out of its container and turns it over there engraved the words 'Always and Forever' I smile at the words. They go back to when we were dating. I was having a bad day where everything was going wrong and I snapped at him. I remember the poison in my tone of voice. I said, "Do you think I tried to make it a bad day?! Do you even love me anymore?!" I remember he took my hands in his softly and said, "I do love you. Always and forever." He uses it whenever I'm down now. Another one of our cute little habits. The watch face is a slivery white and the band is a dark brown leathery material. The numbers are black. Its beautiful and what I was wanting. I kiss Peeta again and thank him. He puts it on my wrist and intertwines our hands together. He places his hat on his head. We walk out of our room and down the stairs and into the entry room. I open the door and we walk out to the car. Prim fallows close behind. We all get into the car; Peeta in the passenger seat and Prim in the back. I drive carefully to the airport. Peeta's bag lies across his lap. We arrive at the airport quickly and I park the car. We walk into the waiting area. Everyone is there but Annie and Finn. Since Annie had Bay they have always been a little late. We all understand. Ethan runs up to me. Being almost five years old he looks so much like his dad.
"Auntie Kat! Unc Pete!" he yells the jumps up onto Peeta's lap. Peeta only lets Ethan and I call him Pete, other wise he glares and aggregately tells them 'No'. Peeta brushes Ethan's hair out of his face.
"How ya doing little buddy?" Peeta asks in the voice he only uses with kids.
"'Good! I got out of school to be here" Ethan slurs. For a five year old he slurs his words a lot. "Aunt Kat, why is 'your tummy bigger?" he gestures with his hands how big it has gotten since the last time we saw him.
"Because Eth., There is a baby in there. Your going to have a little cousin you can play with," I say and his eyes light up.
"A baby cowsin!" he shouts. He pokes my tummy. I giggle. He scoots over to my lap and puts his face close to my stomach. "Hi, I'm Ethan! I'm gonna be your bestest cowsin ever! We will play and be best fweinds!" he whisper shouts to my stomach. I pet his head. He looks up at me with big pleading grey eyes. "When do I get to meet my baby cowsin?"
"Well your baby cousin will be here in about 6 months. That will be right before Uncle Pete, Your dad, Uncle Finn, Uncle Alec, and Uncle Thom will come back," I say.
"Oh, Okay!" he shouts. He climbs onto Peeta's lap again and asks a whole bunch of questions that he probably asked his dad but didn't get the answers he wanted. Peeta is Ethan's Favorite Uncle because Peeta will make up stories to go along with his questions. It quite cute. Suddenly a little golden hair boy jumps up on my lap. I smile when I realize its Bay.
"Hey you got to be carful around Auntie Kat," Peeta says to Bay. Being 1 almost 2 years old, he hides his face and mumbles a quite "sowy". I pet his head and whisper an "Its okay". Bay snuggles up against my chest.
"What's wrong bud?" I say to Bay rubbing his back.
"I dowt wann daddy and Uncws to weave," he mumbles against my chest. My heart breaks for him.
"None of us do, bud," I whisper in his ear so Peeta can't hear. " They'll be back before you know it."
"But I will know it," he replies. Annie walks over and sits next to us.
"Hey Katniss, how you holding up?" she asks.
"I don't know," I say still rubbing Bay's back.
"She was crying her eyes out last night," Peeta chimes in.
"Not that hard," I defend.
"You were blubbering like a baby," Peeta smirks. "I think this one is going to be the hardest for her." Annie nods.
"And Bay isn't taking it easily either, but I can't blame him, it's the same for me," Annie wept, a tear rolling down her cheek.
"Annie don't cry, your going to make me cry," I brush a piece of hair behind her ear. I feel tears prick at the sides of my eyes. Sergeant Boggs steps out from the loading area and addresses his troops.
"Hello, everyone, If you don't already know I'm Sargent Boggs. We will be departing in 30 minutes. I would like all of you on the plane and ready for our departure. We will be arriving at base at 1600 hours tomorrow. I'll see you all on the plane, goodbye and God Bless You." He booms then disappears back into the loading area.
I feel a tear run down my cheek. Bay switches from my lap to his mothers and grips her like a newborn monkey. Ethan jumps off Peeta's lap and runs to hug his father. Peeta and I stand. I turn and hug him not ever wanting to let him go. I feel as if I'm hugging him as tight as Bay was to Annie.
"Kat, I love you," he says.
"I love you too, Peeta," I mumble into his neck. "Promise me you wont let anything happen."
"Katniss, nothing is going to go-"
"Promise me, Peeta," I pled. "I need you to come back more than ever."
"I promise, I'll come back to you and the baby. Nothing will stop me from doing so. Cross my heart." Peeta promised. He pulls back and draws an X on his chest; I mirror it and kiss him. Finnick walks over and I hug him too.
"Take care of him, Finn," I pled to him. "Make sure he comes home safely."
"I will, Kat." Finnick promises. ""Please keep Annie safe."
"I promise," I respond. "Stay safe out there."
"I will," He says. We break the hug. His eyes glint with tears. I hug Gale next.
"Hey, Catnip, how you holding up?" he asks.
"Horribly, I just have this aching feeling that something is going to go wrong and one of you is going to come home in a casket," I sob into his shirt.
"I would never let that happen, were family, families protect each other," he quotes. Tear stream down my face. "Little Catnip must be affecting Big Catnip more than I thought."
"Yep, She loves making momma cry," I joke. This makes Gale smile.
"She?" he questions.
"I think it's a girl"
We break the hug and I watch as Gale picks up Ethan. Ethan's face is flooded with tears and his father hugs him. Ethan grips on to Gale's shirt and he pleads for him to stay.
"Daddy, Please don't go, Please, I don't want you to go!" he begs. Gale's eyes begin to tear up at this but he is trying to stay strong for his little boy.
"Straiten up little soldier. Stiffen up that upper lip. What you crying about? I'll be home soon," he says. "I love you." He kisses His forehead and rubs his back.
"I love you too," Ethan mumbles into his chest.
"This is the part we all hate the most," Thom says behind me, I jump a little not knowing he was behind me.
"It really is," I agree with him. I turn and hug him. Even though him and me aren't the best of friends and we disagree with each other, we still wish the best for each other. "Be safe." I whisper in his ear.
"You too," he whispers back. "Take care of the little one, I'm sure Peeta will be eager to meet him or her." I smiles at his words of encouragement. "And can you keep an eye on Delly, she's been acting weird lately."
"Yeah of course" I say back. We break the hug and he rubs my arm.
"You look completely exhausted," he says rubbing a tear from my eye.
"Trust me, I am," I say. "All the extra hormones pumping in my veins don't help either." He smiles.
"I'm sure," he sympathies. He looks over at Gale and Ethan. Ethan still refusing to let go of his father's shirt, thinking that will prevent him from leaving. "That's what I'm scared the most about lately." He choked.
"Scared of having children?" I ask confused.
"No, I want to have kids… its just leaving them, I'm scared of say goodbye and then just… leaving them, if that makes any sense," he theorized. I nod.
"I would too, I would too," I whisper, silently rubbing my stomach. I was never one for goodbyes. That's why when Peeta and the boys leave I become so tear-jerked. I just die a little inside seeing them go. I don't think the girls would be much different either.
"I should go say goodbye to the others and it looks like Gale could use some help," he says. I nod and hug him again. He walks over to where Gale and Ethan are and convinces Ethan to let go and give him a hug. I turn away and walk in the direction of Alec and Johanna.
"Hey, Kitty Kat," Alec teases. I guess the nickname Jo gave me rubbed off on him too.
"Hey, Ali," I tease. Alec gives me a glace but it is gone quickly. He has forever hated that nickname. Alec and I have a unique relationship. We constantly tease each other but never have any real conversations that don't end in both of us trying to win a stupid bickering argument. Back and forth, yeah huh, nuh uh, like a broken record player. Alec has and will ever be the jokester in our group of friends. He can turn any sad moment into a memorable one.
Alec leans in and gives me a hug.
"When you leave who's gonna make me laugh when I'm down," I mumble in to his shirt.
"Well just remember all the times I did and I'm sure that will be enough," he chuckles at the memories. I smile.
"Stay safe out there," I say. He pulls away and gestures to himself.
"They can't touch this," he jokes then busts out in the "Hammer time" moves. I burst out laughing, gaining some strange looks from the people around us. I punch him on the arm and he acts all offended. I glare at him and he sticks his tongue out at me. Johanna walks over and steals Alec's hat off his head revealing his crazy brown locks sticking out in every direction. Jo places the hat on her head.
"Come on… My own Girlfriend would steal my stuff," he grunts, throwing his arms in the air.
"Well go get it back," I taunt.
"Will do," he says very seducing way and chases after Jo. Perfect is the only word to describe them. I decide to return to Peeta. Slowly I walk, watching all the other Marines hug their family members. We're all losing someone today. When I reach Peeta, he is hugging Annie. They mumble things to each other. Finnick is holding Bay in his arms. Bay looks absolutely exhausted but still grips onto his father's shirt with all his might. I walk over to Finn.
"Can I steal the little guy from you?" I ask.
"Yeah, He falling asleep tho," he says handing Bay over to me. Bay's grin on his father's shirt dissipates and he releases. I sit on the benches closes by and Finnick fallows. Bay snuggles into my chest and his eyelids slowly flutter closed. I slowly rock him back and forth. I hum a lullaby to him and he is soon deep in sleep.
"You're going to make an amazing mother," Finn smiled.
"Honestly, I have no clue what I'm going to do when the baby comes and Peeta's not there to help," I object.
"Well, you're a natural with Bay and Ethan," he counters.
"Well, their just amazing," I say.
"Yep they are," he says. Annie takes the sit next to Finnick and Peeta takes the one next to me. Peeta wraps his arm around my back, sending familiar warmth everywhere his fingers touch. I brush a tear away from Bay's cubby little cheek. Just to think that when he wakes his father and uncles will be on a plane to Base 13, In Afghanistan.
I hand Bay over to Finnick. Finnick's eyes light up as he holds his son in his arms. I lay my head on Peeta's shoulder and watch as the clock on the wall ticks by. I close my eyes and imagine us anywhere but here. Memories of us running and playing on the beach replay in my head, memories of us with the others on Finn's boat. I remember being the one to push Finn off the boat, after that Peeta picked me up on his shoulders and jumped in the ocean. I can't help the smile that pulls at my lips.
Alec, Gale, Thom, and the girls walk over and sit on the bench across from us. Alec's hat is still on Jo's head. I chuckle. I know there is little time left for goodbyes. They talk but I don't pay much attention.
"Honey, Its time for us to go," Peeta whispers in my ear. My stomach drops. As if in this one moment I just can't get enough of him. One moment I was basking in the memories and now I'm trying to savage for more. Peeta stand pulling me up with him, he pull me into a hug. I try and soak up as much of him as possible. I feel tears slip down my face.
"I love you so much, Peeta," I say.
"Word can not describe how much I love you," he says back. Peeta pulls away to quickly and I feel so venerable. Peeta swings his pack on his back and leans in and kisses me.
"Be safe," I whisper. "There will be a little someone waiting for your return."
"I wouldn't miss it for the world," He says and kisses me again. In this moment there is so much I want to say to him but I just cant find the words. I watch as Peeta and the boys walk off toward the loading area. They turn and wave as they disappear behind the doors. Then they're gone for another 8 months. But none of us know who will walk back though those doors and who will come home in a wooden box.
A/N Why Hello there. Freaken longest think I have ever wrote. I hope that you all liked it. It was another "Why not?" story. I hope I did the characters' personalities right. I probably messed up on the facts about the Marines, and if I did, I'm so sorry. Tell me what I messed up on and I will fix it. I really just loved the idea of A modern version of The Hunger Games. So have a wonderfully fantastic day.