Thanks for reading. I wrote this after Mockingjay left me wanting a scene where these two crazy kids could hash out their differences without giving Katniss the chance to run off when she didn't want to deal with it anymore. I also felt that certain accusations were left unexplained, so I threw in some stuff I think might have helped the Capitol to send Peeta off the edge of sanity. Enjoy.
The claustrophobia was getting to her. This isn't to say that she wasn't suffering from an extensive list of other mental disorders PTSD, codependency, frequent insomnia, anger management issues but as of late, the Claustrophobia was the worst.
It probably had something to do with the recent lockdown. While bombs rained down upon the surface, the entire population of District 13 had gone hundreds of feet underground where they were forced to live practically on top of one another adhering to even stricter schedules and spending hours at a time in the dark. When the danger had passed and the lockdown lifted, most of citizens were allowed to return to their homes. The Everdeen family was one of the few that had been forced to relocate. Their old apartment had collapsed in on itself and they had taken up temporary residency on a new floor.
Not long after, Katniss had moved in with Johanna on a floor where the bathrooms were shared between all of the dorms on the floor.
The moment she saw the group shower area, Katniss decided it was time to use whatever sway she may have to rectify the situation. This was not an issue of modesty or vanity. If anything, it was a desperate grasp at a little privacy. As it currently stood she had none.
It had begun a week after Peeta was rescued from the Capitol. After he'd attacked her, she'd noticed that the security officers who roamed the base were keeping as particularly close eye on her. She couldn't help thinking that they were spying .
Oh yeah, she was also a little paranoid.
Talking her way into a less public shower setting had been easier than she expected. Plutarch had been the most help. He'd gotten a good look at her after the quart quell. There were too many fresh scars on her body and with the new bruises on her neck (not the mention the lovely surgery scar from having her spleen removed), she worried about rumors spreading around. She reminded him that with her new position as mockingjay/savior-of-their-collective-asses, having eyewitnesses to evidence of her humanity could impede the process of political deification they'd be working so hard to achieve for her.
In other words, injuries were bad for the hero image. She kind of hated herself for using this tactic, but Plutarch seemed to understand that she needed a few minutes to herself once a day, so he gave her a key to the VIP bathroom, warning her to only go there late at night and not to get caught.
"I don't want to get yelled at, just so you can keep your clothes on in front of your neighbors," he told her with a wink.
The luxury bathroom turned out to be a six-foot long closet with a shower, counter, trash door, and a wall mirror. It wasn't much, but it offered her a little privacy.
So here she was at almost 3am, rinsing the grime and sweat from training off of her body. Since everyone was supposed to be in bed there were no guards around to follow her as she walked the halls. No one was around and she couldn't be happier about it. It was the only time of day that she didn't feel like people were pressing in from all sides.
This was the only place she could truly be alone to pour over her thoughts.
Lately her thoughts had been a steady stream of everything she was doing wrong. In the course of just a few days she'd managed to alienate herself from almost everyone she cared about…again. She didn't want to be around friends, or her mother, or even Prim. The only time she ever felt human was during training sessions where she and the other soldiers could spend a few hours a day beating the crap lout of each other. It turned out to be very therapeutic for everyone.
She adjusted the water and turned up the heat a bit to soothe her sore muscles. Even though she was clean, she lingered for a few minutes. It was a waste of water and 13 wasted nothing, neither did 12 for that matter, but the water ration was ridiculous. At least she got to shower every day. She'd been training constantly and was steadily improving her fighting form. Every workout became a little easier, meaning the trainers had to keep up with her progress to ensure that she was being sufficiently challenged.
Today had been a particularly taxing day. They'd held a tournament in the gym today. Everyone was paired off and the winners fought one another, while the losers went back to the mats to practice. Just before the first set of matches began, Peeta came down from his room, flanked by guards and was assigned a partner.
"Oh this is great," Johanna had said, "Let's turn Nutjob over there into a more efficient killing machine."
Katniss lost her first match, Peeta lost his second. When he saw her in the practice section, he did his best to ignore her. Like herself, he had a partner to spar with. For about the first hour, he was able to focus, his intense stare forward and his hands obediently at his sides whenever she passed, doing his best to concentrate on what the instructor was shouting. After another hour of sweating, he went to the water cooler for a drink and must have gotten too close to where she was practicing with Johanna, because his guards suddenly swooped in. While he'd spent the entire session a relatively calm state, he became suddenly aggressive and had to be dragged from the gym. Just before he was out the door, he looked straight into her eyes and she could see the bloodlust in their depths.
It broke her heart. She missed Peeta. The old Peeta. The real Peeta. She was determined that one day, when this was over and Snow was dead, she would find a way to bring him back. His life was her personal duty and she would never be at peace until she was sure that he was safe and happy. Currently, she was failing miserably in that duty and because of her failures, he was forced to suffer with his identity every day. Sometimes she would see the charming man who'd professed his love for her the night before their first games, then other times he was the man who'd tried to strangle her to death. Instinctively, her hand went to the bruises on her neck.
The rain over head suddenly went cold, meaning that any second now, the water ration would be up and sure enough, the water shut itself off just moments later. She looked up at the shower head, and let out a sigh before turning and pulling the curtain aside.
It was barely an inch off the wall when she saw him. She yanked the curtain back into place, clapping a hand over her mouth to keep the scream in, while gripping the curtain so hard against the wall, she was afraid she'd rip it down.
"Come out," said Peeta in a low voice.
But she was having trouble moving. She shook so bad, she couldn't keep the tremor out of her voice, "What are you doing here?"
"I want to talk. Come out."
He was so calm it was unnerving.
"How did you get away from the guards?" she demanded. She was trying to keep the fear out of her voice but there were already tears at the edges of her eyes and the lump in her throat was giving her away.
"I took care of the guards," he said simply.
"Oh, Peeta. You didn't."
"Didn't what?" he asked bitterly, "No, I didn't kill them, Katniss. Not that it would have been hard. Security around here seems a little lax, in my opinion."
"You're telling me," she quipped back, hoping to keep things light. She surveyed her surroundings looking for something she could use to defend herself with, but there wasn't so much as a used razor. There was a small shampoo bottle that maybe she could slam against his temple if he got close enough, but she was hoping it wouldn't come to that.
"Look," she said, "You have to go back. If you get caught here, you'll be in a lot of trouble.
She was trying to make it sound like a warning, but as scared as she was, he wasn't buying it.
"I'm already in plenty of trouble thanks to you," he told her, "A little more won't hurt me."
"What do you want?" she asked coldly, gripping the bottle tightly. It was stupid and she knew it. He was too fast, too strong. If wanted to come into the shower and drag her out, a tiny bottle wouldn't stop him. The thought of what he was there for terrified her. In the milliseconds, it'd taken for her to recognize he was there and shut the curtain, she'd registered the rage and obsession in his eyes. He looked awful. His face was gaunt and his eyes huge like he hadn't slept in days. Seeing those eyes in her mind, reminded her how vulnerable she was truly was, "Are you here to kill me?"
Outside of the tiny shower, Peeta cocked his head at the question. He'd gone looking for her now knowing exactly what he was going to do when he found her. When he'd beaten up his guards, his goal had been simply been to see if he could. Success brought too much free time however, and he decided that good or bad, it was time to seek out the one who'd been plaguing his mind nonstop for years. Whether he was going to kill her was still to be decided.
He knew he needed answers to questions no one else could help him with. The fact that she was naked was just a bonus. He could hear the fear in her voice, despite her attempts to keep calm. She was brave and would be until the end, but if he wanted her, a flimsy curtain wasn't keeping him out. He felt no guilt for these thoughts, no disgust with himself when he remembered their time together in the arena and on the train. All the times, she'd laid wrapped around him, tempting him with the warmth of her body, the softness of her flesh and had given him nothing more than a few kisses. But then, he'd deluded himself into believing it was enough. It was never enough. He'd risked everything to save her the first time and how did she thank him? By putting him in danger and shoving him toward what should have been his death.
She could have at least fucked him a couple of times first.
Suddenly a more rational part of his brain crept up on him, reminding him that he'd agreed to sleep beside her. He'd never pushed, never asked, never even made a move. So, why was he there to yell at her for something he'd already agreed to?
Wait, said a third voice, of course they'd been together. Hadn't he told the world there was a baby? A secret marriage? A few joyous months together before being shoved back into the arena?
No, you made that up, moron.
So many memories of her and in them her body always looked the same, writhing on top of him, being taken from behind, moving under him on cotton sheets. Her rapturous moans rang in his ears and he could practically feel her hot skin under his fingertips. She was flawless; perfect. Could anyone's skin be that exempt from blemishes? A mutt's could. The Capitol could do that.
"Shut up," he hissed at that side of his rational.
Katniss, assuming he was speaking to her, didn't say anything. She didn't know what was happening out there and was afraid that if she risked a look, it would set him off. Everything set him off these days. She remembered what Johanna had said a few days before, about how he'd recently begun having public arguments with himself. If she said the wrong words, this could go badly.
"You're really quiet in there?" he said, trying to fill the dead space, "I figured you'd be screaming for help by now."
She grit her teeth. Now he was just playing with her. He wanted her to say out loud that she wasn't getting out of this, "Come on, Peeta. We both know that no one is around to hear me."
That's it, she thought, I'm on my own.
He still hadn't made a move towards her, nor had he answered her question about whether he was planning to kill her. When she tried to ask again, he stopped her.
"What's going to happen, is I'm going to ask you questions. You're going to answer them. If I believe you, we both walk out of here alive," he said levelly, "If not, we're gonna have a problem and I don't know what's going to happen at that point. Agreed?"
"Ok," she said, nodding, even though he couldn't see her. All they had really agreed on was that there was likely going to be a problem, "Ask me anything."
He was silent for a minute, then she could hear him muttering to himself. She got a few words here and there, but, nothing concise, until,, "…just gonna lie and then…rip that shit off….no…no, that's not it, just-" she could hear him taking deep breaths and imagined him shaking, with attempts to control his mind. Finally he asked, calmly, "Did you destroy District 12 because I called for a ceasefire?"
What followed immediately was the loudest silence she'd ever experienced. She stood behind the curtain waiting for him to ask the real question because there was no way on earth he could be serious. But he didn't ask another question. He leaned against the bathroom counter and waited.
"Th-they told you that I destroyed District 12?" she asked, still in complete disbelief.
"No, you did," he told her, believing every syllable he said, "No one knew that the rebels had destroyed 12 until you butted into a broadcast so you could show yourself, standing in front of my family's home, telling the entire world that my none of them have been heard from since you bombed them."
"The Capitol destroyed 12 weeks before that," she said quickly, "Why would I?"
He heard the voice in his head, not his own, but Snow's directly after the broadcast, after he'd collapsed. They told him he'd had a seizure on stage and had hit the ground so hard, it had shattered his ribs and almost broken his jaw.
"She wants to punish you," Snow had told him, "She wants to hurt you so badly that she'd destroy her own home, just kill the people you love."
The president had made Peeta watch the rebel broadcast another dozen times until he understood her words exactly, and even then, Snow had insisted he watch it again.
When he explained this to her, she leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes, realizing how it must have looked. If no one had told him about the destruction of 12, then the sight of her standing in front of his parent's bakery must have looked like a display of power instead of a plea to his common sense.
"Peeta," she said after a minute, "Have you see the footage of your own broadcast? Has Haymitch shown it to you?"
"Why the hell would he show me that?" he asked.
"Because, the video shows very clearly that you didn't have a seizure," she explained, "You cracked, Peeta. That thing the Capitol turned you into lost control and you warned that District 13 was about to be bombed. You saved the lives of every person here and when you did, soldiers came onto the set and beat you until you were unconscious.
"I want you think really hard about what you're accusing me of. Why would I bomb 12? My family lived there."
"So did mine," he said through his clenched jaw, "So why is it that not one of them is here?"
He was quiet as he recounted the first couple of weeks after his "rescue." He'd never felt so alone in his life, "I want to understand how it is that all of your friends and family got here and all of mine ended up dead."
"What about Delly?"
"Oh fuck Delly!" he spat, "my entire family was bombed and you wanna make a consolation prize out of Delly-fucking-Cartwright? You're not stupid enough to really think that."
She gave him a few moments to calm down, listening to his steps pace the tiny bathroom.
"So, what did I do, Peeta?" she asked calmly, hoping her tone would affect him, "How did I destroy 12? Did I fly there in a hovercraft, guns blazing, laughing manically while I dropped bombs on your family's house? Where would I have gotten the hovercraft? Or the bombs for that matter?"
"You got taken in by a war District."
"Yes, a District that specializes in nuclear weapons," she shot at him. If he wanted to throw out crazy accusations, she was gonna counter it with everything she had, "If they wanted to wipe out 12, not a soul would have made it past the Meadow. You know how big 12 was. The capitol started their raid right in the middle of town, right on top of your parent's house. The only reason anyone got out at all was because of Gale."
Peeta got an image in his head of Gale running away from the bombings, knowing that people were still in the town that was on fire. Of everyone he'd ever met in 12, few people had the competency to know to run when the hovercrafts arrived. Gale was one of the few. He was a survivor, just like Katniss, and while you couldn't blame the guy for staying alive the thought of him leaving Peeta's family to burn was almost too much. His vision went white and he felt pain in his hand. When the world returned to color he found his fist had made a hole in the wall. His hand was bleeding, but nothing looked broken. It brought up a memory from before, when she'd shove him into an urn. His hand looked about the same. She'd done it because he'd said he loved her. She'd done it because she was pissed at him.
She was always pissed at him.
"Why are you always so pissed at me!" he yelled at her, taking his hand to the sink.
"What?" asked Katniss, having not been granted access to his erratic thought process.
"Nothing," he seethed, as he washed his hand. After a few seconds of trickling out the water shut off. He found a towel under the sink and tried to make it into a bandage, "Let's not talk about Gale. That guy pisses me off."
"Everything pisses you off," she blurted out.
"You know," he said with a sarcastic laugh, "I think I'm aloud to be pretty angry about everything I've been through."
"Of course you are," she agreed, "but you need to be angry at the people who did it you. I did a lot of bad things, Peeta but I didn't turn you into this and I didn't kill your family. I liked your father. He was a good man. The first time we left for the games, he promised to keep Prim from going hungry. I owed him so much."
"Please don't act for a second like you give a shit about my father," he warned.
She wanted to start yelling at him. Speaking cautiously was getting her nowhere and the more he accused her of not caring the more she felt the need to prove him otherwise. It was exhausting trying to not make the cutting comments about his mother she had lined up in her head.
"He helped my sister," she said as calmly as she could, "of course I cared."
When he didn't disagree, she added, "Did you hear about the mayor? His family's gone missing. It looks like they didn't get out either."
"Madge?" he asked.
"She was probably with them."
In his mind's eye, he saw a pretty girl in a white dress, with blonde hair. He'd known Madge in school, but not well. He had a million memories of seeing Katniss in the lunch room and more often than not, Madge was sitting beside her. Neither spoke and there was little to convey the idea of friendship between them, but every day, there they were in the same spot, having some sort of silent conversation while eating their lunches.
He was afraid that she might be right about this one. Madge was the mayor's daughter. The bombing must have happened so quickly that there was no time for alarm or warning, not even to the Undersees. Had 13 been gearing for an attack, the mayor would have been notified by the Capitol and he could have done something to start the evacuation. More people would have gotten out. The merchants and tradesmen would have been the first to escape not the "Seam Scum" (as his mother would have called them) that were currently occupying the less privileged areas of District 13. But he knew in the pit of his stomach, that they didn't escape. If they had, Madge would have been sent to see him instead of Delly. They'd run in similar circles outside of school.
He remained quiet for few long minutes as he considered what she'd said.
The tension was killing her. In fact, she was starting to wish he would just rush the thin cloth that kept them apart. Then at least she would know which version of him she was dealing with, "Let me ask you something now."
"About six weeks after you were captured, they played the first interview and you looked healthier than I could have hoped for. You were fed and rested and you stood up there and called for a ceasefire. I just gotta know in all the ways they screwed you up, even in all the ways that you hate me, did you ever forget that thousands of people had spent seventy-five years at the edge of starvation? Was it enough to forget what else was going on out there?"
"Then why did you do it?"
"Because I wanted you back," he said bitterly, "I wanted our family back the way it was before any of this shit happened to us and if you got shot on a battlefield, that wouldn't happen."
She took a deep breath, trying to imagine what he thought their life had been, "Did they tell you we were married?"
He replied carefully, "I have…memories of us together."
"How? We were never together, Peeta. And if we had been, they wouldn't have known. All they had were some kisses on camera."
As she said, she realized how wrong she was. They had more than a few kisses in the arena. They had recordings of everything from his fake proposal to footage of them entering her room together where they stayed until morning. Pair that up with any attraction he already felt, it wouldn't have been hard to turn it around on him.
"You understand that it wasn't real, don't you?" she asked with a lump in her throat, "They were fantasies that you already had and the Capitol made you think they actually happened."
Peeta found himself clenching his injured hand so tightly that his nails were digging into the skin of his palm. He didn't know why he was so angry. This is what he'd come for. He needed her to tell him that their marriage had been fake, that he'd never have been stupid enough to marry a lying snake like her. He'd been right. So why did it make him feel so damn frustrated?
"What about-" he began, then the different parts of his mind all started talking at once. Katniss could hear him mumbling once more.
"What?" she said, trying to push him to finish his thought. When he kept sputtering curse words, and telling himself to "Stay out of it," she attempted to call him back, "Peeta!"
He looked up suddenly, the thought train broken by her call.
"What about what?" she asked.
Peeta leaned back against the bathroom door, bringing his eyes up to the low watt light above him, "What about the baby?"
Of everything she'd said so far, she was afraid that this was what was going to get her killed. Somewhere in his gut he must know the truth, but she felt that having to say it out loud would break what little control he had. She'd worked hard to not hurt him and he was silently begging her not to do it now. But she couldn't lie to him, not now.
"What did they tell you?" she asked, leaning back away from the curtain, "I mean they must have noticed that I wasn't getting any bigger in the propos."
Peeta gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. He'd been staring at the light bulb so long, he could see bright shapes behind his eyelids. As he watched them turn into amorphous blobs of white, he remembered the moment he'd been told of the loss.
It had been during an interview with Caesar.
"They told me you killed it," he said, banging the back of his fist into the door behind him, "They put me in an interview, in front of a full audience and told me that you killed our baby to punish me for not dying in the arena like I was supposed to."
Katniss actually fell to her knees this time, stunned. Her stomach churned again and she wanted to throw up the nothing in her stomach. She wanted what he'd just said to leave her memory, so she wouldn't have to imagine him a room full of people and cameras, being told horrible lies just to get a reaction. It had been just another form of torture, but it hadn't only been for him. She let out a sob, covering her eyes with her palms, trying anything to block out the thoughts.
Peeta heard her, but hadn't moved. His eyes stayed closed and every few seconds, he would hit the door with the backside of his fist, harder each time, until the pain took him away from the moment. Every impact was stronger, pulling his thoughts away from that room with the bright lights and Caesar Flickerman in his ridiculous wigs. He'd had so many fantasies of ramming that wig down Caesar's throat, watching the blue hair mix with blood as he choked to death on his own uselessness.
After a particularly hard hit, he felt a sharp pain and was pretty sure a bone in his hand had fractured. He was dimly aware that Katniss was calling his name.
"What?" he asked coldly.
Katniss had heard the thud of each hit and was afraid he was punching the wall again.
"There wasn't a baby, Peeta," she said from the shower floor where she was leaning back against the wall. She hadn't stood. Her arms were wrapped loosely around her knees and she was looking down at the tiles, wanting so badly to join the dirt that was jammed into the grout. She'd known it had been bad, she'd known that they'd spent a lot of time unhinging him from reality, but somehow this seemed worse than anything, "You only said that there was because you were trying to protect me."
"Why the hell would I want to do that?" he spat.
She raised her head, looking at the white cloth that separated them, imagining where his face was on the other side, "Because you're in love with me."
She regretted saying it the moment it was out of her mouth. It was a loaded statement and opened her up to a question which didn't have an answer for. Almost as if on cue, he asked it, "Do you love me?"
"I don't know," she said honestly.
He shook his head, "Don't lie to me."
"Ask me something else," she said, trying to get them back on topic.
"If you had to kill me, would you do it?"
"Yes," she said without hesitation.
"Now that I believe."
He'd wanted a yes to the first question, but he didn't really know why. He wouldn't have believed it anyway. All it would do is complicate things and give him another reason to rage at her. Maybe it was just habit from all the time he'd spent pursuing her that he felt a little reciprocity on her part might bring him some relief. But that wasn't her. She would never admit to actually feeling something, except of course her want to see him dead. It made his hands clench again, though this time the pain from the fractured bone helped to keep him in check.
"But I don't want that," she said.
"You're a liar," he seethed, "You left me there! You let the Capitol take me."
"No," her voice became solid through the curtain, "You wanna blame someone for that, go scream at Haymitch. What happened in the first arena? We both got out because of me. You said to shoot you and I didn't."
"You put poison in my hand," he screamed, coming closer to her.
"I put it in mine too. I put that poison in my mouth for you!" Suddenly she was screaming too, "Everything I have done has been to keep you alive. When are you going to wake up and realize that we're all on your side?"
She heard him hit the wall again, but with less force this time. He was starting to crack and she knew that the wrong words would send him flying through the curtain.
"If I'm lying to you, can you explain to me why you're still here?" she asked, "The moment you attacked me, they should have shot you on the spot. Why are they working so hard to help you? Why did we mount a rescue? Do you know that when Gale came back, he said it was easy to get you out. It was too easy. The Capitol wanted us to take you back, so that you would kill me. Two problems would be taken care of at once. All they had to do was convince you to do it and looks like they did. You told me that you wanted to be more than a piece of their games and if you give in to this, that's all you'll ever be."
Flashes of terror, pain, blood flashed in his mind until his vision was a blur of gore, colliding with the life he remembered before. He was back in a dark room full of blinding lights and loud equipment. There were rooms on either side of his where he could hear shrieks of pain and calls for help. He recognized one and wanted get away to help the source of the cries. He was starving, sleep deprived, suffered from broken bones and internal hemorrhaging. The soldiers who beat him didn't care. He usually started the day with a cracked femur or a dislocated shoulder. They'd just throw a thick, disgusting smelling medicine over his injuries and within a few hours they'd be healed and ready to be torn apart again and again and again. He never slept, not really. It was as if chainsaw were going off next to his ear keeping him awake, keeping him watching images of himself on the screen. Then they showed a moment he'd spent with her. A scream of terror left his mouth and he began to tear at his restraints until his hands bled. A doctor ran forward, stuck a needle in his neck and he went limp in the chair, not unconscious, just immobilized, listening to them talk about him like he was goddamn science experiment.
Peeta began to hyperventilate. His hands went into his hair, grabbing so tightly, he almost ripped it out by the roots. He was trying to speak, but it just sputtered out in a disjointed jumble. His vision turned red as he remembered what they had done to "recondition" him, why they had beaten him, why scientists- not doctors- were always injecting him with different drugs.
He searched for something solid to hang onto and his hands found the metal towel rack. He ripped it from the wall and with a roar, smashed it into the mirror, over and over again until the shatterproof glass was smashed into bits so small, he couldn't see his reflection. He crashed the metal rod into the overhead light, then added a dozen more holes to the wall. When there was nothing left to destroy, a primal scream left his mouth, like no sound he'd ever made; loud, desperate, enraged, taking all of his breath. In the echo of the bathroom, it sounded like a dragon breathing fire.
On his next inhalation, he gripped his weapon harder, raised it above his head and ripped the curtain aside.
Katniss was still on the floor of the shower. Her arms were over her head and she was curled into the ball in the corner.
"I'm sorry," she choked, "I'm so sorry for everything."
She began to sob, not out of fear, but because she was honestly sorry for what he'd been put through. Everything that had happened was because of her and this was his one opportunity to destroy her the way she'd destroyed him, to be rid of the horror that her existence caused him every day. This was the only answer, the only solution he'd had since they walked into that first arena. He had to kill her. The result would be blissful oblivion when Coin found out. He'd be waiting beside the body with the murder weapon in hand. Hell, they'd probably shoot him right then. What was real would be irrelevant and that was what he wanted more than anything.
One good blow would do it.
Then, he saw her tremble and another memory hit him. They were on the roof of the training center, standing in the gardens on their first night there. When the wind made her shiver he'd put his jacket around her shoulders. His fingertips had touched the skin of her neck. It was the first real, friendly physical contact they'd ever had. Now he looked at the back of her neck and saw where his fingers had left bruises. He really had tried to kill her and here he was again, ready to bash her head in just to give himself some relief.
A part of his brain sparked up, It'd be unfortunate for the world to lose such a pretty voice. Don't you think?
You don't need music, cried another, You need release and you won't get it if you let her live. Do it and be done.
You do love her, you know.
Yeah? Well the only thing love's done is put you in this position. I say kill her off!
As the voices fought in his mind, his arm came down and the metal rod fell from his fingers. He stood there in awe, listening to argument, like there were two people, one in each of his ears, shouting advice through his head. He didn't really want to listen to either. He backed away from the shower entrance, turned to the sink and held the cold, acrylic counter, trying desperately to ground himself. It didn't matter if either of them were making sense. He needed them out.
He looked ahead, suddenly glad that he'd already smashed the mirror. The sight of himself might have driven him off the edge. He could hear Katniss moving, but until he looked over, didn't see the metal rod in her hand as she approached. He crouched, readying himself for an attack, trying to ignore the fact that she was stark naked, which was not an easy feat. Had he made a better attempt to look into her face, he might have seen her true intention. The moment she was parallel with the toilet, she reached over to a small metal door positioned in the wall directly over the tank. She put the towel rack through the opening and listened as it fell a dozen stories to the reclamation center before shutting the door.
Katniss knew she had probably just done something incredibly stupid, but he'd been right. It was time to get some things worked out. She refused to continue to be afraid of him. If he killed her then that was that, but if she was right, that wasn't what he was after. He just wanted to stop feeling like a crazy person for a while, to stop feeling so alone. She knew she could help with that.
Once she was unarmed, his eyes moved over her body more freely. The fury hadn't left his face and the addition of lust to his gaze didn't make him any less dangerous, but she didn't stop until they were a foot apart.
"This is absolute proof that I'm telling you the truth," she told him, her eyes not leaving his, "Take a good look. Is this the body you've seen in your memories?"
He tried to back away, suspicious at this strange offer of flesh, but she closed the distance between them, getting inches from his face. Her jaw was set and her eyes hard as she ordered him, "Look."
He had to stare her down for a few more moments to make sure she was serious. This seemed like a great opportunity to get slapped in the face.
He began to circle her, looking closely at parts of her that she didn't expect. She felt his hand on the small of her back, at her right calf, along the inside of her arm. Then he went to the more obvious places. His hands held her waist for a few seconds then began moving slowly along the skin, up her ribs, to the sides of her breasts where, to her surprise they didn't stop. He genuinely seemed to be looking for something. As he traveled up her collarbone and neck his eyes became more focused.
He found it on her left cheek, so faint it barely showed in the single emergency light in ceiling above the door. He ran his thumb over it, staring wide eyed at the mark.
"You got this from a whip, didn't you?" he whispered. She nodded, seeing the clarity in his eyes for the first time in weeks, "I forgot about it."
"I didn't have it in those memories?" she asked carefully.
He shook his head, dumbfounded, "They must not have known about it when they-"
He took his hands off of her, leaned back against the sink and closed his eyes. His hands began to shake as he realized exactly how many lies he'd been so ready to believe. The most frightening thing was that, discovering this one truth about Katniss barely scratched the surface. He still wasn't completely sure he trusted her but, when he opened his eyes, he found that for the moment he didn't care.
"What's going to happen?" she asked seeing the desire that he wasn't even attempting to hide, "I don't know if you're going to snap suddenly and rip my head off."
He paled, "I don't know either."
"This is what you want, isn't it?" she asked, "Both sides of you want this, the side that wants me dead and the one that just wants me. You knew that when you came here. You knew I'd be naked, you did that for a reason. So it's up to you. Do you want to do this to me, or with me?"
Suddenly, she saw something new in his eyes: shame. He had wanted her defenseless and naked and he hated himself for it.
Without a word, he buried his face in her shoulder and wrapped his arms around her, breathing in her scent, and tangling his hands in her hair. Her arms remained limp at her sides, fearing if she moved her hands towards him, he would feel threatened. He placed light kisses on her shoulder, moving up the bruised skin on her neck and pressed her back against the counter with his hips, both trapping her there and showing her physically, how much he wanted her.
His lips found hers and he breathed the word against them, "With."
The word put a fire in the middle of her stomach and she put her hands to his cheeks, turning the light kisses into heavy passionate ones. He put his hands under her thighs and lifted her onto the counter, trailing his fingers under her legs as she wrapped her legs around his waist. He tore his shirt over his head then went back to kissing her. When her hands touched his bare torso, he tensed up like he was going to pull back and his fingers dug almost angrily into her back. The moment passed just as quickly as it came on. It wouldn't be the last time.
As their lips danced together, she ran her fingers down his chest towards the waistband of the flannel pants he wore. He must have come from the hospital wing because what he wore was practically pajamas. Before she reached them, he took her hands, and shoved them roughly away then removed the pants himself. He leaned her back towards the counter, then began to move his mouth down her chest. When she attempted to run her fingers through his hair, he leapt back like she'd burned him. She had to throw a hand behind her to keep from hitting her head against the mirror. Peeta had retreated to the opposite wall.
Katniss got down from the counter and approached him.
"Sorry," he said, "You just startled me. I think I just need to know where your hands are."
"Peeta," she said carefully, "This is not 'with.' Let me show you."
She put her palms onto his bare chest and ran them all over the front of his torso, then they were at his sides, then behind him. This caused her to be flush against him.
"It's just you and me," she said against his mouth in between wet, passionate kisses, "I don't have a knife behind your back or a gun. You're so strong, I probably couldn't kill you now if I tried. You have to trust me."
He didn't let her continue. His mouth claimed hers and he pushed her back against the counter. She lifted herself onto the cold surface and pulled him in between her legs. His fingertips trailed the side of her thighs, following the soft skin to her knees, before making the trail back along the insides.
Katniss put her head back and closed her eyes as he gently exploded her. His lips had returned to her neck, nibbling the skin he found there, causing shivers that she felt through her entire body, but nowhere as much as the place his hands had found. He inserted a finger inside her and her eyes shot open, as a gasp shot air into every molecule of her body. Even the tips of her hair felt lighter. She closed her eyes again and moved against his hand, concentrating all of her focus into the places inside and out that his fingers had found.
Soon, she was sputtering nonsense too.
She wrapped her legs around him, trying to pull him as close as possible. He removed his hand from her, moving it to her backside and lifted her from the counter. He laid her on the floor, hovering above her for a few moments, looking her body over again. Her figure was beautifully proportioned and strong from years of hunting. Her breasts were smaller than his memories told him they should be and her waist not quite as curved, but the sight of her lying naked and splayed out, waiting for him to take her caused him not to care so much about the details as the entirety of what she was offering. He slid a hand back down her thigh to her core, feeling the wetness that had accumulated. He'd made that happen. His lips came down to her stomach and moved their way up to her breast where the nipple was taut and pointed up to the ceiling. He'd made that happen too. When he grazed his teeth along the pink skin, her breath hitched and a quick moan had escaped her mouth. That was the best thing he'd made happen so far. His fingers were almost too tight on her waist and the wave of urgency only made him more careless with her.
He kissed her lips so hard that she thought they might bruise under the crushing weight, but she held fast to the knowledge that she was doing something good for him; for both of them. They both needed be away from the world for a little while, just long enough to remember that their entire lives weren't made of the pains of their past. There was no one they could go to besides each other who would understand what that meant. They were in this together; they always had been and she would do whatever it took to keep him from slipping any further away than he already was.
She hadn't counted on liking it so much.
He looked into her eyes just long enough to see the pleasure, the complete enjoyment of his crushing kisses and strong hands before he changed his position and without warning plunged into her. They let out a joint cry of pain and release. For a few long moments, they remained motionless, taking in the sheer strength of the bodies and minds for what they'd just done. There was no going back.
Peeta reared back until his body was almost disconnected from her own, then thrust into her again and then again.
Developing a rhythm wasn't hard. Katniss allowed him to set the pace, moaning his name every time he sank himself deeper inside of her. The sound of her breathless voice spurred him on. Her skin was soft and burning hot under his fingertips. Her body was strong and flexible. When he moved her leg aside to get deeper, he was able to put it father to the side and closer against her torso than he'd expected. The feeling of her wrapped around him, the tightness, the wetness, the call of her voice as he pushed harder, faster, deeper, was not like he remembered. It was better. This was real and there was no denying it.
Initially, Katniss had experienced pain. She 'd known she was going to, but the tearing sensation was more intense than she'd expected. As much as it had hurt, there had been a strange feeling of gratification in it. The pain was cathartic, it was necessary; another test of her endurance, of her will. Now that it was over, she'd expected boundless pleasure, but didn't find it right away. He barely gave her a few seconds rest before he was moving roughly within her. He didn't say a word to her and seemed oblivious to the pain in her voice as she said his name each time. He didn't stop and she never asked him too. She gritted her teeth through each thrust, willing her body to accept the pain as though it was his. With every movement, she felt herself taking his hurt and terror into herself. With every kiss, she pushed comfort and passion into him. He moved her leg up against her middle and went deeper.
After a minutes of being stretched and pounded into a more pliable position, her body finally began to adjust and she began to experience the pleasure she'd felt when he was using his hands. Her eyes closed and her body began to push back against his. Her hands roved his back and when he tried to move her leg even farther, they dug into the muscles near his spine. Suddenly they were lying at her sides of her head. Peeta had his hands around her forearms and he was holding them way too tight. He stopped moving and she felt him began to shake. When she looked into his face, she saw why.
"Oh God," she whispered.
Peeta's eyes were closed. Something had shifted and he was trying his best not to lose control. Holding onto her arms was his way of grounding himself and she knew he probably didn't realize how hard he was squeezing.
"Peeta!" she said sharply, hoping to call him back like she did before, but whatever thought had him wasn't letting go. His face scrunched up and he put his head down breathing deeply.
"Shut up!" he spat, still not looking at her, "Just shut up for a second."
She waited; it was all she could do. There weren't many ways to fight back if things went badly from here. She had no hands and only one free leg to fight with. Luckily the leg was in a great position. One knee to the groin would diffuse this situation quickly. For now she waited while he wrestled with whatever demon was trying to take over his mind.
Finally, he let out a long breath and looked up at her with clear eyes.
"Sorry," he said softly.
"You ok?" she asked, bringing her face closer to his. He nodded, then taking the hint, moved in and kissed her deeply. Seconds later, they were back on track, back to their clumsy movement against one another. It was a few seconds before she realized he still had ahold of her arms and she was beginning to lose feeling.
"Peeta," she breathed into his hear, "Let go."
His hands released their grip, but stayed over her arms on his fingers, effectively keeping her from moving any further. She didn't question it. He still didn't trust her completely. Not that she blamed him. Nor did she really care at the moment. As long as he kept moving like that, kept finding ways to fulfill her- nibbling at her neck, kissing her, whispering her name- trust was the least of her worries. This is what they'd needed the whole time. How did she not realize that until now?
He began to move faster, pumping into her at double speed. Her legs shifted up to meet him with every thrust. A sound like a train whistle sounded in her ears and it took almost a whole minute to realize it was coming from her. Her back arched, her mouth opened and out poured a cry of ecstasy along with a number of expletives she wasn't accustomed to using. Peeta released her hands, wrapped his arms around her body and held on as he came hard, riding the waves of endorphins, his brain shot into his system at the feeling of final release. He shuddered a few times, before coming to a stop.
He raised his head and saw her smiling at him.
"Hey," she whispered.
Peeta pressed his forehead to hers and sighed, smiling back at her, "Hey."
He rolled off of her, but kept his arms around her, so that her back was against his chest as they lay on the tile. As she moved, her eyes glanced down at their naked bodies and in the space between them, she saw something that made her curious.
"Look at that," she said, nodding toward the spot.
Peeta reluctantly took his eyes from her face and followed her gaze down to a spot of blood on the tile. He smiled cockily at it. He'd made that happen.
"So, just me?" he asked, trying to wipe the pride from his face.
"Just you," she confirmed, "how about you? Anyone I should be jealous of?"
He shook his head and beads of sweat flew from his forehead, "Just you."
They made love twice more before they heard the two pairs of feet running through the hallway outside of the bathroom. One of their voices came through the door.
"Check them all. There's only so many places he could go."
Peeta sighed. He knew his guards would catch up eventually.
"How the hell'd they get out of the closet?" he asked aloud. He'd tied them up pretty good before heading down here.
"You better go," Katniss said, not sounding the least bit happy about it.
"I don't want to," he said staring her in the eyes, "I don't know what going to happen when I leave this room."
She put a hand to his face and leaned her forehead against his, "Believe me, you don't want them to find us here. Whatever happens out there, we had tonight. Don't forget that."
"What if I go crazy again?"
She opened her mouth to reply, but stopped herself before any words could form. She didn't have an answer. It was very possible that by the time the sun came up, the last few hours wouldn't even matter. Sleep and the sobering light of day might just be enough to send him back into uncertainty and fear, but they didn't have time to worry about that. The voices were getting closer and reality was on its way to destroy them. It was time to go.
It took everything they had to disentangle themselves from each other and get dressed. Katniss took her towel, which was covered in the blood from Peeta's hand, added her own blood to it from the floor and dropped it into the trash door. When she turned back, Peeta was broodingly looking at the door where the towel had disappeared.
"Were you hoping for a souvenir?" she asked with a grin.
"I get the feeling I have enough of those on my back, thank you," he told her with a grin, "The hickies are gonna be hard enough to explain."
"Don't even start with that," she complained, "You don't live with Johanna. I might never hear the end of this."
With that, she smoothed her hair over the love bruises that had been added to her neck and joined him at the door.
"I'll lead them off so you can get out of here," he offered. She didn't refuse. Her hand found his and when the guards had passed, he leaned down, kissed her quickly, but deeply, and then darted out the door and down the hall.
Just like that, he was gone.
A couple of days later, she was on her way to training when she passed him in the hall. Security had been doubled since his little adventure through the base. Coin had been angry to find that he'd destroyed a bathroom and had set extra people to watch him around the clock. Strangely, she didn't feel the need to stop his training.
As Katniss passed, she didn't look at him, but instead reached over as if to rub her shoulder. Knowing that he'd be watching, she pulled down her collar and revealed the purple mark his mouth had made upon her neck. It was her little signal to him that said, "I remember that night. Don't you forget it."
Just as she passed, she heard a snarl and a thud. She looked. Peeta had lunged. His guards had him on his knees in front of her. At first, she saw the rage that usually encompassed his face, then he smiled. Not a big one, honestly the corner of his mouth turned up for a few seconds, but it was enough. He mouthed a single word to her.
It was difficult not to burst out laughing. At the same time, she wanted to slap him. Was he trying to get her in trouble?
She looked up at the guards who apologized profusely. One of them made a move to club Peeta on the back of the head, but she put her hands up to stop him.
"Just keep a better eye on him next time," she told them with a roll of her eyes. The moment her back was turned her lips turned up in a smile that matched Peeta's. It took everything she had not to look back.
Just before she rounded the corner, her left hand curled itself up a couple of times in what she hoped he would see as a wave.
The moment she was out of sight, a wave of joy came over her as memories from a few nights past overtook her mind. Her lips spread into a wide smile and all she could do was return the greeting to empty hall.