a/n: This was written for Freaky Fic Friday on tumblr, but it was entirely too long for a drabble, so I've decided to post it as a one-shot. And this was written fairly quickly with little editing on my end, so my apologies for its suckage.
Credit really goes to misshoneywell, nonemoreblack, annieoakley01, didntheramble and Amelia Day for helping brainstorm this plot. They're awesome. I hope you enjoy!
Katniss knew this camping trip was a bad idea. She knew it the moment Gale suggested it. He thought "getting away from civilization" and "getting in touch with nature" would help their relationship—or whatever the hell they were; she was sure it would have the opposite effect. Getaway vacations with the two of them never went well. They butted heads too much, arguing over every little stupid thing. Which they were currently doing.
"I'm just saying, Gale," she gritted out, swatting at a mosquito that buzzed in her face. "We need to stop soon and set up camp before it gets dark."
He practically growled, not even sparing her a glance as he stalked up the trail ahead of her. He pushed low-hanging branches and leaves out of his way, rudely letting them snap back and whack her in the face. She resisted ripping off her shoe and throwing it at the back of his head each time. "I know that," he snapped, the frustration palpable in his voice. "But we're not at the campground yet, and we can't exactly stop in the middle of the trail."
She rolled her eyes at his back. "But we keep passing spots that would be perfectly fine!" she argued, and he huffed before falling silent, clearly having no rebuttal to her point. He was dead set on this particular campground for whatever reason—the view or something—and refused to give up the search. Katniss was exhausted, her feet hurt from hiking all day, and she was beginning to suspect Gale was lost.
She was at her wit's end. After a few more minutes of silent, tense walking, after she'd had to duck yet another swinging limb let loose by Gale, causing her to stumble on an unseen root, she snapped. "Okay, that's it! I'm not going any farther!" she yelled at him, planting her feet stubbornly. Gale whirled around to glare at her.
She returned the stare with equal ferocity. "I'm exhausted! I just want to set up camp already. I'm not walking anymore! I'm turning around and going back to one of the numerous other clearings we passed!"
He seemed shocked at her assertion, but then anger clouded his gray eyes once again. "I'm not backtracking now, Katniss," he said through clenched teeth. Her nostrils flared.
"Well, I'm not moving another fucking inch forward," she challenged. He finally threw his hands up.
"Fine, I don't care! Go back! I'm continuing on this trail, with or without you." With that, he spun back around and stomped off. Katniss blinked rapidly, utterly dumbfounded, as she gawked after him.
"Are you—seriously, Gale?!" she yelled after him, but he ignored her. Her blood boiled as she seethed, watching him get farther and farther away. "Fine!" she shouted, spinning around to head back down the trail. "Fucking jerk," she muttered under her breath, her footsteps heavy and angry, a far cry from the usual stealth with which she moved while in the woods. She hooked her thumbs around the straps of her hiking backpack, keeping her face hard. She couldn't believe he'd just walked off like that! Who was he to think he always got to call the shots in everything they did? He was such a fucking alpha-male; this was why she'd refused to label herself his girlfriend or really even commit to him. It was too much work, too exhausting, and too little return on investment for how much energy she put into appeasing him.
After this, she was definitely done with him.
She wasn't sure how long she'd been walking when she pulled up short suddenly, a random thought sticking in her brain: Gale had the tent. "Oh, god damnit!" she cried out, stomping her foot petulantly. All she had on her was her sleeping bag. She couldn't sleep out in the open in just her tent. She had no idea what kind of predators there were. There was no way she'd make it back to her car, either, before night fell—at least, she was the one who'd driven, she thought with a fleeting wisp of smugness. And no way in hell was she going back after Gale now.
Katniss was just beginning to contemplate the possibility of strapping herself up high into a tree to sleep when she heard a childish shriek from the woods. She tensed, her neck craning to her right to locate the source of the sound. She didn't have any time to brace herself when two small boys burst from the brush off the side of the trail, and she gasped as they barreled toward her, on a course to run right over her. But they froze immediately when they saw her, their eyes going wide.
She heard rustling in the woods behind them, and her eyes widened in alarm—were they being chased by a bear or a large bobcat, maybe? But then she heard a man's voice call out, "Graham! Dylan! Get back here!" As the man stumbled out of the woods, he nearly collided with the two boys. His face melted in relief, and he grabbed their shoulders, practically sagging against them. "What do you think you're doing, running off like that?" he scolded, his eyes finally locking on her face as he registered her presence. She stiffened, tightening her hold on her backpack straps. She had a Swiss Army Knife in one of the pockets, if she could reach it... "Oh—"
"Sorry, daddy!" one boy, the one with blonde curls and blue eyes to match the man's, chirped. "Dylan saw a rabbit! We just wanted to pet it!"
The man blinked, dropping his gaze to the little boy. He sighed and squatted down to his level, glancing between the two kids. "Look, you can't take off like that in the woods. And you can't touch the animals here, okay? We're just here to observe nature. It can get pretty dangerous out here, so you have to stick by my side. Is that understood?" he stressed, and the two boys nodded solemnly.
The man shook his head, standing back up. "Finnick and Annie would kill me if anything happened to you out here," he muttered to himself, and then he turned his attention back to her, furrowing his brow. "I'm sorry, I hope they didn't scare you—"
She regarded him warily. "No, just...startled me, a little. Generally, when things come charging out at you from the woods, it's something scarier than children." He smiled at her, though his eyes were apologetic. She stared at him wordlessly for a moment, suddenly struck by how attractive he was. His dirty blonde hair was disheveled, the curls haphazard from his run through the woods. His shoulders were broad, his physique solid, and though he wore tan khaki pants and a plaid shirt, he looked out of place in his surroundings.
"Apologize to the woman for startling her, boys," he instructed the two, squeezing their shoulders. They mumbled a half-hearted apology, and she shrugged, releasing her straps to fold her arms over her chest, jiggling her knee anxiously. It was getting darker by the minute...
The man squinted at her. "Are you lost?" he asked.
Katniss scowled defensively. "No," she snapped, and he looked taken aback. "I'm perfectly capable of navigating out here. I'm just—trying to find the best place to set up camp."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you," he replied sheepishly. "I, uh, I just mean...well, we got lost earlier, that's all. Well, I got us lost, I mean. But there's a clearing back this way if you need to put up a tent," he said, jabbing his thumb over his shoulder to indicate where he'd just come from.
No way in hell was she going to follow this strange man deeper into the woods. She would just have to hoof it back to her car. Shaking her head, Katniss started to inch forward. "I'm fine, thanks," she said dismissively.
"Oh, okay," he said, watching her go. "Well—um, be safe, then."
Against her better judgment, she looked back at him, her steps faltering as she took in his face again. His expression seemed oddly disappointed, but he smiled when he noticed her looking at him and held up a hand to wave goodbye. He seemed harmless enough...But she supposed they always did, didn't they? Pursing her lips together, she turned away and continued down the trail.
"All right, back to the camp," she heard him tell the boys behind her, the trees and pine straw rustling as they cut through the brush. Again, Katniss hesitated as she stared up ahead at the never-ending trail that stretched before her. She was never going to make it before night time—and now she was remembering she didn't even have a damn flashlight on her. That, too, was with Gale.
"Ugh," she groaned, spinning around on her heel and jogging back to the others. She might not have a tent, but maybe if she was around other people, she would be safe enough. "Wait up!"
The man and the boys weren't too far into the woods, and they stopped to watch her approach. "Um, I guess I do need to set up camp before it's too dark," she mumbled by way of explanation, and he smiled in understanding.
"Okay, you can just follow us. I'm Peeta, by the way, and this is my son Graham, and this is his friend, Dylan," he said, dropping a hand on each boy's head respectively. They waved at her, and she shifted uncomfortably.
"Uh, hi. I'm...Katniss."
Peeta grinned. "It's nice to meet you, Katniss," he said sincerely, and she just nodded, unsure how to respond. She wasn't good with new people. They continued their trek through the woods, Katniss keeping a comfortable distance between herself and them; Peeta pushed branches and foliage out of the boys' way, and he paused numerous times to hold it for her. She was soon forced to walk pretty much in step with him so that he didn't have to hang back for her sake.
She guessed that was nice of him. Nicer than Gale, anyway.
Graham and Dylan began chattering incessantly about the rabbit they'd seen, their descriptions getting more and more exaggerated. Peeta just laughed indulgently. Katniss stayed quiet. She wasn't really a big fan of children, but at least these two weren't too obnoxious. Yet. She guessed them to be not much older than 7. But Peeta seemed young, too young to have a child that age; he looked about her age, 26.
Now she was intrigued, but she immediately reprimanded herself for her interest. Don't be stupid, she told herself.
They reached the clearing he'd been talking about in a few minutes, and the boys ran back to their camp, chasing each other. Katniss saw two tents, but that was it. Was there no one else but them there? Peeta seemed to sense her question.
"It was a pretty secluded clearing—that's why I picked it," he explained, but then his eyes widened in horror; she was sure her fear was reflected on her face. "Oh god, that sounds—that came out wrong. I just—I thought I'd be considerate of other campers and pick a place where we'd be out of anyone else's way. Graham and Dylan can get pretty rambunctious and loud, clearly," he said, gesturing to the two boys. "Um, feel free to grab a spot as far away from us as possible."
Katniss regarded him from the corner of her eye as she nodded and stalked off to find her own space. At least, she could start a fire now for light. Surveying the area, she finally selected a sandy area; she kicked some rocks out of the way and then tugged her bag off her shoulders, setting it on the ground beside her as she sat down, folding her legs underneath her. She immediately fished out a Cliff bar to munch on, following it with swigs from her water bottle. She would start looking for firewood in a moment; in the meantime, she kept glancing back over at Peeta. He looked like he was attempting to start a fire himself; he was hunched over a pile of wood, a spindle in hand as he twisted it furiously, attempting to create a spark.
She snorted. Was he seriously trying to Cave Man it? She watched him for a while, long after she'd finished her snack. It was dusk now, and he'd yet to get a flame going, having to stop periodically to wipe the sweat from his forehead and wrangle the kids in.
Finally, Katniss sighed and stood up, snatching her bag off the ground. Digging something out of a side pocket, she slung the pack back onto her shoulder before heading in their direction. Stopping at the edge of his wood pile, she arched an eyebrow when he looked up at her. "Need some help?"
He looked embarrassed, dropping her gaze to look at his tools. "Ahhh—do you know how to start a fire?" he asked, his face scrunched in a sheepish smile, and she held out her hand to him to reveal the lighter in her palm.
"Yeah, it's called lighter fluid, and they make it in these nifty little portable devices these days," she said wryly, squatting down beside him. Peeta just chuckled darkly, shifting over to give her more space. She flicked the lighter, and when the flame caught, she set fire to the tinder nest he'd constructed. Then she blew on it, fanning it until the twigs and branches in the pile began to smoke; she waited for the wood to catch, too, blowing on it until the flames were sustainable, then she sat back on her heels and looked up at Peeta. Graham and Dylan raced up to them, their eyes large with excitement.
"Ooh, fire!" Graham yelled, and the two of them cheered enthusiastically.
Chagrined, Peeta laughed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Ah, thank you," he told her. "I thought I could be authentic and really rough it out here. That was a bad idea, clearly."
She just shrugged. "We're not on 'Survivor.' No one's going to judge you for a few modern conveniences," she deadpanned, standing up. Peeta stood up as well.
"Do you want me to help you set up your tent? Since you've been such a huge help to us already?" he offered, and her face fell. She sighed.
"I don't have a tent," she admitted begrudgingly, and he looked surprised. She didn't really want to divulge her personal life to him, but, more than that, she didn't want him to think she was a complete idiot. "The guy I was with has it, but we got into an argument, and he took off with it. So I'm shi—" She stopped herself when she remembered the children in her vicinity, cringing slightly. "—I'm out of luck."
"Oh." Peeta looked around as he contemplated this. "Well...that was really rude of him to leave you like that."
"Yeah. Well." She just shrugged, shuffling her feet to head back to her spot, but Peeta reached out for her.
"Wait!" he started. "We have two tents here. The boys will be in one, and I was just going to sleep in the other, but—well, you can take mine, if you want. I can just sleep out in the open or try to squeeze in with the boys."
But she was already shaking her head. "No, I'm fine—"
"Please!" he interrupted. "It's the least I can do to thank you for saving my ass just now—"
"Oooh, daddy said ass!" Graham echoed gleefully, and Dylan giggled. Peeta closed his eyes before he looked at Graham sternly.
"Graham, you know you can't say that word," he said tightly.
"But you said it!"
"I know. I shouldn't say it either. I'm sorry. But that doesn't mean you get to repeat it," he said, his tone brooking no argument. Graham looked properly chastised, his face falling.
Peeta sighed, and his face softened. When he spoke again, his tone was gentler. "It's fine, Graham Cracker. It was my fault first." He turned his imploring eyes back to Katniss, who had watched the exchange with a modicum of amusement. Graham Cracker? He smiled, shoving his hands into his pockets. "Anyway, sorry. Really, I won't feel right knowing you're out here sleeping without shelter, so please, take the tent. I really don't mind."
She wanted to refuse—she really hated accepting help from others, especially strangers—but she did help start his fire, so maybe this was more of an exchange than a favor. And he was nice; how scary could he be with two kids occupying most of his attention?
She relented, slowly shrugging her backpack off her shoulders again. "Okay...thank you." He smiled in relief.
"Good. Make yourself comfortable. I'll get my stuff out of the tent—I'm just about to make dinner for us," he said, ducking into one of the tents. Katniss sat down next to the fire carefully, aware the two boys were watching her. Her eyes darted back and forth between them; why was the redhead smiling at her?
"You're pretty," he blurted, and she flushed in embarrassment.
"Umm...thanks...Dylan," she said. "I...like your hair." He grinned, showing off his missing front tooth.
"Thanks! I get it from my dad," he boasted.
Katniss just nodded, glancing at Graham. He looked a little downcast. "Um, I like your hair, too." He lit up at her words. Peeta emerged, finally, aluminum foil packets in his hands.
"Guys, stop bothering Katniss and go play or something. But stay where I can see you!" he called after them as they dashed off into the open field. Shaking his head, he positioned the packets on the fire before sitting down opposite her. "Did you need to cook something?"
She shook her head. "I already ate," she said evasively; he didn't need to know she'd only had a meal bar. He nodded, taking a moment to roll his sleeves up his forearms. "Um...what are you making?" she asked. He smiled at her.
"Hobo dinners. Seemed the easiest thing to make. Just threw in some ground beef and vegetables. The trick will be getting the boys to eat the vegetables..." he said, scratching the scruff on his chin.
"So what are you doing in the woods with two boys?" she asked curiously, and he blinked at her before laughing.
"Wow, you make it sound really unsavory and creepy," he mused, and she flushed mildly, looking away.
"Sorry, not trying to imply anything."
Peeta leaned back on his hands, twisting his neck some to watch the boys play. "Well, Finnick and Annie—that's Dylan's parents—were looking for some time to themselves, and I was wanting to get out and do something with Graham. I thought camping might be fun, and I offered to watch Dylan for them at the same time." He glanced back at her, an eyebrow raised wryly. "I'm sure it's obvious this is my first time camping, though. Probably not the smartest idea I've ever had."
Her mouth quirked in the smallest of smiles, but she didn't respond. He continued, "So—you came out here with your, ah, boyfriend?" he asked, and she narrowed her eyes.
"He's not my boyfriend," she said immediately. "I mean, we were just—whatever. We just were. But I knew this was a horrible idea."
His face was serious as he listened to her. "Not much of a camper yourself?" She scoffed.
"No, I love camping and hiking. But things always seem to go wrong when we try to do things like this and—" She stopped herself, shaking her head. It didn't matter anymore. "Whatever. That's done with, anyway."
He nodded his head, looking solemn. "Well, I'm sorry that happened."
Again, she shrugged. "So, where's your wife? Just wanted a guys' night out?"
Peeta reared back slightly, confusion on his face. "My wife? I'm not married," he said, laughing, and she glanced down at his hand. Sure enough, he didn't have a ring on.
"Oh—I just assumed...Divorced then?" she pried, rather tactlessly. He just chuckled, shaking his head.
"No. I've never been married, Katniss."
Now she was really confused. "But...you have a son..." she trailed off, and he cleared his throat.
"Yeah. Ah, well, when I was 19, my freshman year of college, my girlfriend at the time—well, she got pregnant. She...decided to keep the baby, so I dropped out and started working full-time at my parents' bakery to help support her and the kid. We were together for a couple years after he was born, but...it just wasn't working. We're friends now, though. For Graham's sake, at least," he explained, and she felt properly shamed. Shit.
"Um, sorry, didn't mean to pry," she started, but he waved her off with a smile.
"You're fine. It's not a big shameful secret or anything." Peeta looked back at his son. "I love him very much. I wouldn't change anything."
Katniss bit down on her lip, watching him as he watched Graham. It was extremely endearing, the way he stared at his son. What the hell had she been so worried about? He didn't seem like he could hurt a fly. "Well...he seems like a good kid," she offered. He beamed at her proudly.
"Yeah, I think I did all right." He used a stick to poke at the aluminum packets, moving them around. "So, what do you do?" he asked conversationally, dividing his attention between her and the boys.
She cleared her throat. "Nothing too special...I'm just an assistant to a surly, usually drunk microbiologist."
Peeta laughed lightly. "Drunk? I guess that makes work fun?" he tried, and she rolled her eyes good-naturedly as she thought about her boss, Dr. Abernathy.
"Yeah, sure, that's one way to look at it," she muttered. It worked out for her, she supposed; she ended up doing a bulk of the work because he was too hungover. She enjoyed it—now, if she could just figure out how to weasel more money out of him...
"Well, it still sounds like an interesting field."
She nodded. "You still work at your parents' bakery?" she probed, drawing her knees up to her chest. It was dark now, and the fire was helping some, but she still felt chilly. Suddenly, her shorts and loose, plaid shirt, which had been helpful earlier in the heat of the day, felt inadequate now.
He nodded; she didn't miss the way his eyes darted to her bare legs. Curiously, she didn't feel compelled to cover herself up. "I took over as manager. My dad and older brother help out, too, of course," he said. His eyes lit up suddenly. "Oh, I actually brought some treats from the bakery, hold on." He disappeared into the tent again and returned a moment later with a large Ziploc bag of rolls. He grinned, shaking them in her face as he sat back down, closer this time. "Cheese buns. If you don't like these, there's something seriously wrong with you."
She held her hands up to refuse. "Oh, no, I'm fine—"
"I insist," he interrupted, already pulling a roll out and pushing it at her. With a reluctant sigh, she took it from him, waiting for him to get one for himself too. Then she took a experimental bite, chewing thoroughly before swallowing. Her eyes widened.
"Oh, wow...this is really good," she acquiesced, taking another bite. Peeta nodded and bit into his own roll.
"Told you," he boasted around his mouthful, and she couldn't help but smile this time. He grinned in return, pleasant surprise dancing in his eyes. She swallowed thickly as she observed him, suddenly very aware of how handsome he was. The firelight bounced off the features of his face, casting shadows around his eyes and mouth, but even in the dark, she could see how brilliant his eyes were. And his smile...She felt a distinct throbbing between her thighs, catching her by surprise.
She hurriedly stuffed the roll into her mouth to distract herself. He might just be more dangerous than she'd initially thought...
It was hours later, but the fire was still going strong; periodically, Peeta would get up to scrounge up more logs and branches to feed it. The boys had gone to bed already, having worn themselves out by playing tag and capturing bugs to show her and Peeta, but the two of them were still talking by the fire. Peeta had retrieved his sleeping bag from his tent so she could go to bed anytime she wanted to, but she wasn't that interested in sleeping at that moment. Despite herself, she was enjoying herself and his company. He was extremely easy to talk to; she'd never felt so at ease around someone she barely knew, but they'd been talking so long now, she was beginning to feel like she knew him better than some of her actual friends.
He was a lot different from the people she normally associated with. She tended to surround herself with people who shared her similarly standoffish and prickly disposition. But Peeta was nice and genuine and warm. And funny. And smart. And...really attractive. Damn.
She flushed with warmth, hugging her legs tighter to her chest when she felt a chill run up her spine. She didn't think it was from the cold this time.
"Shit, are you cold?" Peeta asked suddenly, shattering her thoughts. He was watching her in concern when she looked up at him, and she started to shake her head.
He snorted, narrowing his eyes playfully. "I've heard that before—no, you're not. I've got a hoodie you can put on," he said, unzipping his bag and pulling it out. She sighed, already resigned.
"Peeta," she said warningly, but she took it from him anyway when he thrust the sweatshirt into her arms. She knew it would do no good to refuse him.
"Stop being so stubborn," he teased as she pulled it over her head and slipped her arms through it. It smelled nice, clean, a faint hint of cologne or aftershave, she couldn't tell. But she liked it, and she tried to discreetly inhale another whiff of it to trap it in her lungs.
"Better?" he asked at her side, having moved even closer when he'd given her the hoodie. She nodded, stretching the sweatshirt out some to tug down over her legs too. It was pretty big on her, thankfully.
"Thanks," she said, and he just shrugged.
"You're welcome. I don't want you to freeze on my account."
Katniss stared at the fire, very conscious of his proximity. At least, his body warmth was helping. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. He seemed unaffected by the cold, his sleeves still rolled up. She furrowed her eyebrows and turned her head slightly to face him. "You're not cold at all?"
He shook his head. "Nah, not really. I think working near hot ovens all my life has permanently altered my body temperature," he said wryly, flashing her a crooked smile. Her stomach twisted uncomfortably at the sight. How much warmer would she be if she could cuddle up next to him, burrow under his arms? Unconsciously, she licked her lips but quickly looked away. She was being stupid. He had a kid—who was only yards away.
Peeta cleared his throat suddenly. "Ahh...I guess it's getting a little cold," he said quietly. When she looked back at him, he was watching the fire. He looked nervous; it confused her. She sat up straighter.
"Do you want your hoodie back—?" she asked, already moving to take the sweatshirt off, but his hands on her wrists stilled her.
"No, keep it—it looks better on you, anyway," he said, and when her mouth parted in astonishment at his compliment, he blushed and released her hand, scrubbing his hand through his curls. "I just—you know, orange seems to suit you. Your complexion, I mean. Um, wow, that sounded prissier than I intended..." he trailed off, shaking his head, and she laughed softly, warmth flooding her chest and cheeks.
"Bright orange was probably not the wisest choice to bring into the woods, by the way," she informed him lightly, tugging on the sleeve of his hoodie. He looked sheepish but not insulted.
"I think it's been well established how ill-prepared I was for this trip," he joked, and she buried her grin against her knees. She sat up again when she remembered something.
"You know what I forgot I have?" she said, reaching over to pull her backpack closer. She unzipped the main pocket and dug through the contents until her hand closed around a metal flask. Pulling it out, she held it up to him triumphantly. "Whiskey!"
His eyes widened in surprise, and he laughed incredulously. "You brought alcohol on a camping trip?"
She shrugged. "It helps pass the time. And it helps warm you up," she said, already unscrewing the cap to take a swig. It burned all the way down, and she winced before holding it out to him in offering.
He hesitated, eyeing it cautiously. "I—"
"Oh, come on," she ribbed good-naturedly. "You can't refuse. You keep forcing your stuff on me, so shut up and drink my shitty whiskey already."
He huffed in faux exasperation but smiled, taking the flash from her. "Fine. When you put it like that, how can I refuse?" Pursing his lips around the opening, he took a quick pull of the whiskey but then coughed when he pulled the flask away, his face twisted in disgust. "God, that's rough."
She smiled, anyway. "Amateur." She took another sip, her tongue unconsciously flicking against the opening to taste his saliva. It was oddly thrilling.
Peeta laughed gruffly beside her, shaking his head. "I don't know if I should be scared or impressed with how well you handle that whiskey," he mused, and she arched an eyebrow.
"You work around ovens, I work around a drunk," she reminded him, and he chuckled again, taking the flask from her for another sip. She decided she liked the sound of his laugh; she liked making him laugh. Fuck, she liked him. Biting her lip, she took the flask back from him when he offered it. "So, you must have a girlfriend."
His face went slack at her words, and she immediately regretted them, hiding her face behind the flask when she took another swig. He broke into a grin. "Oh? Must I? Why do you say that?"
She shrugged uncomfortably. "I don't know...there's nothing discernibly wrong with you," she said evasively, and his grin widened.
"Well, if you don't consider having a 7-year-old a detriment to your dating life."
She scrunched her nose. "I thought that kind of shit worked on women."
He raised an eyebrow. "I don't know—does it work on you?" he challenged, his voice low, and her breath hitched in her throat as they locked eyes. Shit. That was a definite come-on, wasn't it? She finally broke their stare, a slight buzzing in her ears.
"I...maybe," she mumbled softly and sipped some more whiskey. Peeta didn't say anything, but she glanced back at him when she felt him prying the flask from her hand. His eyes remained locked on hers as he tipped it back, finishing the last bit off. He wiped his mouth off with the back of his hand and gave the flask back.
Shyly, she twisted the cap back on and slipped it into her backpack. Her hand brushed against something else, and, curious, she closed her fist around it. Her eyebrows shot up when she realized what it was: condoms. She'd packed them for her and Gale.
She almost laughed out loud. She didn't really believe in some sort of divine power or faith, but this was all so coincidental, she couldn't help but wonder if there was some unseen force pushing her and Peeta together.
If she weren't so damn horny by this point, she might be frightened.
Instead, she swallowed thickly and released the condoms, setting her backpack aside. Then she turned to Peeta, who was still watching her, and she took a deep, steadying breath. "You should kiss me."
His jaw dropped. "I—" The rest of his words stuck in his throat. She couldn't tell if that was fear or excitement in his eyes—maybe both, but she hoped it was more of the latter. He just stared at her, his eyes large. Was he still breathing? She was beginning to worry, but then all the air he'd been holding escaped his lungs on a harsh exhale. "You—I..."
Peeta struggled with a response, and Katniss pursed her lips, refusing to speak again until he either turned her down or made a move. When he opened his mouth again, she braced herself for a polite rejection, but then his mouth was on hers, his lips molding against the grooves of hers. She was staring at the back of his eyelids, so she squeezed her eyes closed and puckered her lips slightly to encourage him. His hand came up to curl around her neck, and she tilted her head back, practically sighing when she felt the tip of his tongue trace the seam of her mouth, his lips moving against hers in tentative, constrained exploration. She opened her mouth readily, touching her tongue to his, and it was all the permission he needed.
His tongue was in her mouth next, stroking her tongue, retracting every once in awhile so he could lick the underside of her lips and tug them between his teeth. She whimpered and wound her fingers through his hair, trying to pull him closer. He groaned in response, pressing his mouth to hers harder with a neediness and ferocity the left her lightheaded.
"God, I've wanted to do this all night," he gasped between kisses, and she nodded eagerly, wrapping her arms around his neck. He pushed her onto her back to hover over her, resuming his exploration of her mouth. She wanted to taste more of him, but he seemed focused on discovering every crevice of her mouth, and she was content to let him. She couldn't be bothered about the rocks and twigs digging into her back, and she pulled more of his body on top of hers when he released her mouth to cover her neck in kisses. She panted toward the sky as she felt his tongue trail wet paths along the curves and sinews there, his chin nudging the collar of the hoodie out of the way. He latched on to the dip near her collarbone and sucked lightly, trailing his hand up her ribcage and pushing the sweatshirt up to her breasts. She sucked in a moan when his fingertips brushed the underside of one breast, but then Peeta was tearing himself away abruptly, sitting up.
"Shit, I—we can't—shouldn't," he stuttered, frazzled, and ran a hand through his hair. She gawked at him, blinking rapidly as she tried to comprehend.
"I—I have condoms," she breathed out, dazed, and he stared down at her, his expression unreadable. Then he shook his head.
"That you brought to use with another man, and..." He sighed, squeezing the bridge of his nose. "And I've got my son and his friend in a tent just yards away..."
Katniss pushed up onto the heels of her hands, drawing her knees up. "I can be quiet," she said softly, eliciting another look of surprise from him. His mouth opened and closed as he searched for a response, but then his eyes clouded over, his face darkening with something she didn't understand.
"That's the problem—I wouldn't want you to be," he murmured, and she looked away, her entire body flushing with heat. The night air was tense, heavy with humidity and the desire coursing between the two of them, but neither spoke again. Finally, Katniss stood up on wobbly legs, defeated. She guessed she'd gotten the rejection she'd been expecting. She tugged his hoodie off, despite his protests. "You don't—you can keep it," he said weakly when she handed it back to him and grabbed her pack.
"I'm gonna go to sleep," she whispered, avoiding his eyes as she stepped around him and disappeared into the tent. She collapsed on top of her sleeping bag, covering her face with her hands as she composed herself, but all she could concentrate on was the taste of his whisky-soaked tongue. Fuck, why had she asked him to kiss her? She was an idiot.
But she couldn't regret it. She didn't regret the kiss. It had been fiery and intense and consuming, heated by a passion and hunger mostly unfamiliar to her. This wasn't like kissing Gale. This was something new entirely, something scary and exciting, and she wanted more. Neededmore.
Sighing helplessly, she shrugged her backpack off and set it aside, idly smoothing her hand over the silky material of her sleeping bag, which she had already put out earlier. She stared at the zipper as she thought, then she quietly unzipped the sleeping bag to spread out. She hesitated another minute before she turned back to the tent flap and pushed it aside. Peeta was still sitting by the fire, his head dipped forward into his hands. She watched him for another moment before she called out to him.
"Peeta," she said softly, her tone plaintive. He straightened and craned his neck around to look at her. She chewed on the corner of her lip before continuing, "I don't want to sleep in here alone."
His cheek ticked, and she held his gaze for what felt like an eternity before he finally stood up and grabbed his sleeping bag. She scooted backward into the tent, her heart rate picking up speed, and when he slipped inside the tent, she watched him shuffle uncertainly, crouched over so he didn't hit the roof. He wavered, his eyes darting around the tent before he dropped his sleeping bag and squatted down, and she tucked some loose hair behind her ear, pulling her braid over her shoulder. Feeling brave, she slid her plaid overshirt off, baring her spaghetti strap tanktop underneath. She heard his sharp intake of breath, aware the material of the top and her camisole bra underneath did little to conceal her erect nipples.
"Oh, jesus, Katniss," Peeta hissed, and she flushed with warmth, the sensation settling between her thighs, but she ignored him and reached down to untie her boots. They were quiet as she worked until Peeta moved closer on his knees to help her, tugging them off for her and setting them aside. He peeled her socks off, too, delicately, and she sucked her bottom lip into her mouth as he held her ankle, his thumb stroking the thin skin there. He seemed to be internally debating himself, but then he pulled on her leg to drag her down her sleeping bag, closer to him, until they were nearly flush. She braced her weight on her hands behind her, challenging him with her eyes; they were so close, she could feel his hot breath on her mouth, could see the brown flecks in his blue irises. Dizzy with want, she tipped her face toward his, but he didn't meet her mouth with his own.
Instead, his hand came up to cup her jaw, forcing her head back slightly to expose her neck. Her eyes fluttered closed as he dragged his hand down to her chest. She gasped when he slipped his fingers under her tanktop and bra, stretching the material down to expose her breast. They both groaned when he palmed the mound, her nipple rubbing against the rough center of his palm. He cupped and kneaded her breast until he yanked the tanktop down farther to free her other breast, showing it the same attention.
Moaning squeaks stuck in her throat, and she tried to thrust her chest into his hands. She was relieved when he laid her back again, lowering his face to suck a nipple into his mouth. Bucking in pleasure, Katniss gasped; she weaved her hands through his hair again to hold his head in place as his tongue and teeth teased and worried the pebbled bud. His hand massaged her other breast, his thumb circling the tip. Wetness seeped out of her at an embarrassing rate as she squirmed beneath him.
"Peeta," she moaned desperately, and he moved his mouth up to her neck to suck on her pulse point. His hands tugged her tanktop out of her waistband and fumbled to unbutton her shorts and pull down the zipper. He began to push them down her hips but stopped to let her pull his shirt off over his head. Once he had her panties out of the way, he wedged his hand between her thighs to dip his fingers through her folds. She jerked against him with a gasp, but he pinned her down with his weight, his fingers pushing inside her before retreating to rub her clit as he dropped his mouth to her breasts again.
Katniss bit down on her lip, trying to stifle her loud moans, but it was impossible with the intensity of the pleasure building at her core with a surprising quickness. "Peeta," she gasped his name again, gyrating her hips against his palm to stimulate more friction on her clit. "Oh, please, I'm gonna come—"
Her breath hitched, bordering on a raucous moan, but he immediately smothered her sounds with his mouth, thrusting his tongue between her lips to swallow her moan as she shuddered and strained against him, her orgasm ripping through her. She panted against his lips, holding onto his shoulders, but his fingers kept moving against her clit, easily manipulating her to another orgasm. She finally ripped her mouth away from his to breathe, grunting with the force of her release.
"God, Katniss, I so badly want to make you scream," he groaned into her neck, withdrawing his hand, and once she had her bearings again, she reached between them to unfasten his pants, pressing her cheek against the side of his face.
"You can," she gasped deliriously. "Another time. Whenever you want, however many times you want. I just need you to fuck me right now."
He groaned loudly at that and helped her push his pants and boxer-briefs down, toeing his shoes off as he kicked the rest of his clothes off. Then he pulled her shorts and panties off the rest of the way, Katniss lifting her legs to help him. When she felt his cock brush against her thigh, she tensed in anticipation but pushed him back so she could sit up and grab for her backpack. She hastily dug the condoms out and ripped one off before turning back to him. He was watching her, his eyes dark, his cock straining upward as he took in her state of near undress, her tanktop bunched around her stomach, and her stomach tightened.
Pushing him down onto his back on her sleeping bag, she hooked her leg over his thigh to straddle his hips. Peeta gaped up at her as she opened the condom packet, issuing a soft gasp when she took his cock in hand so she could roll the prophylactic down on him. He then grabbed her hips to guide her into place, her hand still gripping him to position him at her entrance. When she felt the tip of his cock part her folds, she shifted her hips back and then sunk back down onto him fully, moaning as he stretched her completely.
"Oh, my god," she whimpered, bracing her hands against his chest to steady herself. She threaded her fingers through the light dusting of hair there, the muscles hard under her palms.
Peeta groaned softly, thrusting up into her slightly. "Fuck, you feel amazing."
Using her hands and shins for leverage, Katniss began to rise and fall, clenching her walls around his cock as he pushed inside her, over and over. Her moans came out in quiet, throaty gasps, echoed by his own groans. He slid his hands up her torso to her breasts, holding the weight of them in his palms, and she sat back some to cover his hands with her own, guiding his movements. The tent was hot and stuffy by that point, their body heat trapped by the canvas walls, but she still moved slowly, reveling in how he filled her.
Peeta sat up suddenly to wrap his arms around her, and then he rolled her underneath him, hitching one of her knees under his elbow to pull it up to her chest. His thrusts resumed, and Katniss moaned, opening her other leg up wider for him.
"God, I need...Can I..." he gasped brokenly, nuzzling her neck, and she nodded in understanding.
"Harder," she agreed, wrapping one arm around his shoulder and the other around his back, and just like that, his hips began slamming against hers. It was increasingly harder to muffle her moans as she lost herself to him, but he reached the arm hooked around her leg up to cover her mouth with his hand, his other hand tightly gripping her hip.
"You're so hot," he grunted in her ear, and she moaned against his palm, breathing heavily. "You can be loud as you want to next time," he promised thickly, and she just nodded, digging her nails into the vertebrae of his spine. He began to move faster, more erratically, and she knew he was close. "Fuck, Katniss, I'm gonna come."
She clenched her walls around him again when he thrust into her then, and he lost it, stilling after a few shallow thrusts. He swore again into her ear as he spilled himself into the condom, his cock pulsing, and she moaned softly at the feeling. After a moment, Peeta uncovered her mouth and slumped against her, burrowing his face against her shoulder. "Sorry for that," he apologized breathlessly, releasing her leg, too, so it dropped to the ground. She just shook her head and turned her face to coax him into a kiss.
"I really liked it," she murmured against his mouth, and he stared at her before smiling slightly, smoothing her hair down before kissing her again. Finally, he pulled out of her and rolled onto his back to remove the condom. She sat up to locate her underwear and slip them back on, grabbing his sleeping bag to use as a blanket for them.
"I have no idea how to dispose of this out here," he said with a sheepish chuckle, holding up the tied-off condom, and she laughed cluelessly.
"Um, I think there's a plastic bag in my bag somewhere," she offered, tucking her breasts back into her tanktop while Peeta fished through her backpack. After he found it and trashed the condom, he moved back toward her, settling under the sleeping bag beside her. She felt shy suddenly, but he pulled her flush against his naked body.
"That was really...really...fuck, I'm too out of it to even think of a descriptor," he laughed gruffly, and she buried her face against his chest to hide her smile, humming in agreement. She opened her mouth to respond, but a rustling outside the tent made them both freeze.
Shit. With a quiet gasp, Katniss ducked under the sleeping bag to hide, and Peeta scrambled to sit up, holding the sleeping bag to his waist just as Graham crawled into the tent. Katniss held her breath as she listened, trying not to move.
"Graham! What's wrong?" Peeta asked nervously, mild alarm in his voice.
"I had a bad dream," Graham croaked pathetically. "Can I sleep in here with you?"
Fuck fuck fuck. Katniss' heart thundered in her ear, but Peeta thought quickly.
"Why don't you go back into your tent with Dylan, and I'll come in there and tell you a story until you fall back asleep? Okay? Just give a minute, okay, Graham Cracker?" he said softly.
Katniss didn't move until she heard the tent flap close, and Peeta sighed in relief. She peeked her head out to find him staring at her. "God, I'm sorry," he said, running a hand through his curls, and she pushed up into a sitting position.
"It's okay," she murmured, embarrassed. "Um, sorry I put you in that position..."
He shook his head. "No, don't apologize," he said gently, reaching for her hand to squeeze it. "It's absolutely fine. I just—I gotta go deal with him, so I'm sorry."
She shrugged, returning the pressure on his hand. "I understand." With a smile in her direction, he fetched his clothes and quickly put them back on; Katniss tried not to stare at his ass as he did so. When he was dressed, he crouched down and kissed her lips.
"Um, I'll be back at some point, hopefully, once I get him back to sleep," he said, grinning shyly, and she nodded.
"I'll be here," she told him, and then he was gone. She lay back down, snuggling under the sleeping bag. It didn't take her long to fall asleep, exhaustion creeping in steadily.
When she woke up hours later, she was surprised to find Peeta wrapped around her, her back snug against his chest. She smiled, easily falling back to sleep.
Find me on tumblr at fuckingplebe. Sometimes I write things for Freaky Fic Friday, which only appear on tumblr for the most part. You can check the #freaky fic friday tag on there too to read what everyone else contributes, as well!