A/N: I apologize for the delay! Here's the last chapter!
Disclaimer: I don't own the Hunger Games
Chapter Twenty Five
A week later
Peeta groaned, not wanting to wake up just yet. He had fallen asleep ontop of Cato the previous night and hadn't moved at all over the course of the night. It felt right being back in his arms, the warmth and comfort he felt filling a void that had been left barren for too long.
He moaned and shifted ontop of Cato. His cheek was smushed against his chest, his scent filling his senses and settling his nerves. Cato's hand went instinctively to his hair, smoothing down the ruffled curls in a gesutre he'd normally use to calm him down when he was unsettled or scared. Maybe he felt him shifting while he was sleeping and was petting him because he thought he was having a nightmare. Peeta liked it when he stroked his head because it was nice and comforting and always put him at ease.
Still, he had accidently moved so his arm was twisted awkwardly so he had to move again, which included shifting again. He lifted his hips and shuffled slightly to the side, untwisting his arm and laying back down. He still wasn't comfortable though and moved again. He tried to push himself up and nestle himself up on the pillow beside Cato but that didn't work either.
"Baby," Cato murmered when he tried to move again. "You're going to have to stop moving."
"I'm sorry, I just can't get comfortable," Peeta murmered in reply. Cato caught his hips when tried to move again and squeezed his waist. Goosebumps broke out across Peeta's skin and he paused. "Why? What's wrong? Sorry if I woke you up."
"No, it's just," Cato stopped, struggling to find the words. "You're kind of rubbing me up the wrong way."
Peeta's eyes widened. "Oh. Oh! I'm sorry!" He froze and began calculating a way to move into some sort of position without . . . rubbing himself up against him. "God, I didn't think. Just let me . . . fix myself here."
"I don't mind," Cato said. "I'm more worried about you than me."
"Why?" Peeta asked, a frown etching onto his face. "I'm fine."
Cato's eyes flickered open and he smiled. "As in you need to stop moving or I'm going to have to do something about it," he said. "Which will include getting out of this wonderfully comfy bed and stop holding you in my arms and go into the bathroom which is sterile and freezing."
"What? Wait-oh," Peeta said, realizing with embarrassment what he was talking about. "Surely it's not that bad." He squeaked when Cato's hands tightened on his hips, a blush creeping up into his face.
"I'm lying here in bed with a beautiful, sexy boy who's squirming against me like there's ants in his pants, believe me, it's that bad," Cato replied. Peeta's blush deepened and he smiled sheepishly. If he had the confidence, he could have teased Cato about this but he was more embarrassed about it than the career himself was.
"What? You mean this?" He asked quietly, shifting himself back ontop of Cato, finding curls of pleasure creeping up on him when their crotches brushed together. He wasn't sure what he was doing but he knew that he wanted to forget everything that had been happening recently and indulge in something nice and care free.
"Yes, that," Cato replied, lifting his hips up to meet Peeta's without really thinking about it.
They bumped together and Peeta gasped at the jolt it shot through his nerves. Had he really casued that in Cato just by moving around a couple of times? He curled his fingers into the duvet by each side of Cato's head and his eyes slid shut as they got lost for a moment, just rocking against each other. It was nice, the blooms of pleasure he'd feel small and muted so it didn't feel like they were obligated to go anywhere with it.
He felt Cato's hand bursh against the side of his face and he leaned into it, seeking out his touch. "You're so beautiful," Cato murmered. Peeta shook his head and took a hold of the hand on his face. Cato didn't like the response and flipped them around so Peeta was beneath him and he was kneeling over him. Peeta gasped in surprise and looked up at him in shock. "You are beautiful, do you hear me?"
"Oh yes, I'm sure I'm absoloutely gorgeous," he responded sarcastically. "I mean, I positively rock the scars, right?"
"Yes, you do baby. I love them," Cato replied. To prove the point, he slipped his hand up his underwear and ran his palm along the scar on his thigh.
Peeta hissed and flinched away. "Oi! Your hands are freezing!" he exclaimed.
Cato grinned and moved his supposedly freezing hand so it brushed against his inner thigh. Peeta gasped and bent his knees on reflex, only succeeding in pressing his leg up against Cato's crotch. He groaned and welded his eyes shut. Peeta's eyes widened and he pulled away. "Sorry!" he exclaimed.
"No, I suppose I deserved that," Cato replied, shaking himself off and settled himself back down ontop of Peeta, being careful where to brace his weight. His partner blinked up at him, still as innocent as ever. He didn't fully comprehend what he was doing to him, even just by looking up at him with such a gleeful and pure look. The blue of his eyes had a playful gleam in them that made Cato smile every time he looked at them.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to . . . you know."
"I know, I know, it's okay." He brushed the hair from Peeta's face and smiled. "Come on, let's try and get a couple more hours sleep. You comfortable now?"
"No, hold on." Peeta moved around so he was lying on his stomach and sighed. "Now I'm comfortable." Cato smiled and wrapped his arms around his waist, pulling his back up against his front. Peeta sighed and twined their hands together, content to just lie there for the rest of his life if he could. "Cato?" he whispered.
"Are you excited to see your sister?"
Today, Cato was being reunited with his family. They were on the train and would be arriving in 2 at any moment. Peeta himself was quite excited to see the young girl again so he couldn't imagine what it would be like for his partner.
"Yes, I'm very excited," Cato replied. "I literally cannot wait to see my parents and Kayla again. But . . . I have to go and see Clove's family as well."
"You don't have to if you don't want to," Peeta said.
"I know," Cato said. "I have to though. I do want to go. I feel like I have to explain myself."
Peeta tightened his grip on his hand. "It wasn't your fault," he said firmly.
Cato chuckled, nestling his head in the crook of his partner's neck. "I know that's what you believe," he said, his breath warm and making goosebumps break out across Peeta's skin. "But it's not that easy not to believe it just because you say so. There's thousands of senarios that I can run through my head that would save Clove's life that I was too dim to see back in the arena. In those moments I can't help but believe wholly that her death was all my fault."
"But it wasn't," Peeta insisted. He hated that Cato was thinking like this. Every word made his heart ache and he wanted nothing that to be able to convince him that Clove's death was not his fault at all. "Her death should be on Thresh's conscious, not yours."
"But Thresh's death is on my conscious," Cato pointed out.
"That's not the point-"
"But why not?"
"I don't know," Peeta replied. He was getting frustrated. "None of it is your fault!" He sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He wasn't tired anymore. "It's as much your fault as it is Kayla's or Katniss' baby sister Prim's. It's not your fault, it's the Capitol's. Imagine the bright minds that could have been born and blossomed if it hadn't of been for the goddamn Hunger Games! That girl who the boy from 1 killed? Rue? She was what, 12? Imagine all the stuff she could have acomplished if she had of survived! But does that make it the boy from 1's fault? Because all he was doing was trying to get back home as well? All 24 tributes in the arena have the same goal: To get back home. It's not your fault that you're the one who won."
Cato sat up as well, angry at himself for getting Peeta worked up. Could he do anything right? "But look at how I won! All those people who I killed at the bloodbath? Thresh? Katniss? Not only that but I sat on my ass and watched Thalassa and Glimmer and Marvel and even Clove herself kill innocents as well!"
"Just think of it though: A world without the Games. What would people like Thalassa and Glimmer and Marvel and even yourself and Clove have become? Would Thalassa have been as hostile and nasty? Would her partner Murdoch's death have left more of an impression on her? Imagine how much kinder people would be without the Games," Peeta explained. "The Districts seem to view it as the fault of the tributes when they don't seem to look past that to who's actually at fault. President Snow and the whole bloody Capitol."
Cato found himself searching the room for bugs. What would Snow do if he heard Peeta talking like this? "You can't talk like that," he said.
Peeta folded his arms and huffed. "Why not?" he demanded. "Someone has to say it."
"Then leave it to someone else," Cato said firmly. He wrapped his arms around the boy from behind, resting his chin on his shoulder. "Those words are dangerous words. You could get yourself in trouble talking like that."
"Like I care," Peeta huffed. "How much worse could it possibly get?"
"You have no idea," Cato murmered, nuzzling his neck tenderly. Peeta sighed and tipped his head back so it rested on his boyfriend's shoulder. "I wouldn't want to risk it. You don't know what President Snow could have up his sleeve."
"I'd dread to think," Peeta muttered sarcastically.
"Be serious," Cato chastised, kissing the side of his throat. "Baby, we don't know who could be listening."
"Damn them all," Peeta replied. "They could be listening for all I care. Look what they've done to you. Convinced you that all this is your fault and it's not Cato, okay? It's just not! I can't bear the thought of you believing that you're to blame because of all this is! It's no-one's fault but the Capitol's!"
"Shush," Cato hushed, trying to be comforting but also trying to get him to be quiet again. "I know, just calm down, okay?"
"I don't want to calm down!" Peeta snapped. "Not until you learn that none of this is your goddamn fault!"
Cato sighed and pulled him closer. He was touched that he cared so much for him and his peace of mind but there was nothing Peeta could do . . . Was that what it was like for him? When he tried to convince him to try and tell him what was happening in his head? Was this what it was like inside Peeta's head in a day to day basis? A constant struggle to decipher between fault and blame? Real or not real?
"I love you Cato, you know that, right?" Peeta said out of blue.
"Of course, I know that," Cato replied. "What's brought that on?"
"Just everything that's been going on with Harold and stuff," Peeta answered. "I just wanted you to know. I thought you'd maybe hate me because of what happened. Like I could have done more to prevent it or something."
"There is no way I could ever, ever hate you," Cato assured him. "I couldn't live without you babe."
Peeta smiled. "I couldn't live without you either."
"It's a good thing we have each other then?" Cato responded.
"Yeah," Peeta said, still not completely happy that Cato was okay. "It is."
Peeta was an itch.
The way he treated him was like someone would treat an itch.
When he would see him, the itch would occur. A niggling at the back of his head that begged him to inflict pain. Because Peeta looked so innocent, the niggle would become hard to ignore. The need to watch the purity twisted and manipulated into something else woud become almost impossible to go on without satisfying the need. And when Harold would stratch the itch, it would be the most statisfying thing he'd ever experience. In the moment it would feel like it was worth it, like he wasn't doing something horribly wrong.
But the scratch was never worth the scar.
He still couldn't get the look in Peeta's eyes after he molested him out of his head. The pain, the desperation, the obvious worry about what his darling boyfriend would think of him. And no, it wasn't worth it. But-like an itch-the niggling could not be ignored. Once statisfied, it was only a matter of time before the itch would come back ten times worse than the last.
Harold clutched the photograph in his hand. It was one of the more simple pictures. No paint, no flour, no anything really. Just his beautiful boy leaning against the make-shift kitchen counter in the magnificently small apron. It was one of the beginning shots, before he had really gotten the hang of the modelling thing, and all it really was was him looking up through the hair that had fallen into his eyes with a bashful smile on his face. He loved that photo. He kept a copy of it in his wallet so he could look at it even when his beloved wasn't there with him.
Harold turned around with his best faux smile on his face. "Mr. President," he said, holding out his hand. President Snow was an annoyingly calm man. When something went wrong, he never yelled, or screamed, or got mad. A silent order would be given and whoever done him wrong would just vanish into thin air, never to be seen again. "I must say I was surprised when you summoned me."
"It was of the upmost importance that I got to speak to you as soon as possible," President Snow replied, sitting down at his desk. "As you probably already know, everything has gone to plan and Mr. Hadley has won the Games. I'm going to inform you on the next step that is required off you. Please, sit."
Harold sat down in the chair across from the old man. There was something about the country's President that unnerved him. He wasn't sure what-he had done everything the President wanted of him and therefore had no reason to be unnerved-but it was a presence that was always there.
"The Capitol are thoroughly enjoying the love triangle angle from yourself, Mr Hadley and Mr Mellark. As you know, we have been very strict towards how much damage you inflict upon young Peeta. Since, of course, severe damage cannot be covered. This, however, is about to change."
Harold perked up. "Change? How?" he asked.
"I assume you have been informed with how our citizens love complex relationships and this has pretty much led to popularity of your love triangle relationship? Well, recent studies have also shown that they also love the rogue, bad boy types. I'd like to spice things up a bit and take it one step further by introducing the idea that both yourself and Mr. Hadley contrast with your ways of loving Mr. Mellark."
Harold wasn't sure what the President was getting at, but he liked the sound of it. "Meaning . . . ?"
"Meaning we're going to make your need for dominance public. But in a more romantic sense. I suppose this is also a solution for out lack in body polish and the fact that I have no desire to spend tax payer money on the blemishes you leave on his body," Snow explained. "So while Cato will be soft and caring boyfriend, you will be presented as the strong, assertive lover. Understand?"
Harold laughed. "Yes, I understand."
He began to wonder what it was that Peeta had done that made President Snow wish to hurt him so much. Whatever it had been, he was thankful because then he wouldn't have had a chance to be with him. Well, he wouldn't have the chance to fight Cato for him. That was okay though, he was willing to fight.
He was willing to fight to the very end.
He had never been aware of the fact that he could purr. It was never something he really thought of but there it was. Cato had made him purr like a cat.
"Make that noise again," the career murmered, latching his lips onto the tender skin underneath his jaw. Peeta whimpered, wrapping his arms aound his neck and bowing his back in pleasure. He wasn't sure how this had started. They returned to Cato's house to find it empty, went into his room and . . . things just sort of spiralled out of control.
"I'm not sure how I made the noise," he moaned.
Cato hummed in response. "Suppose I'm just going to have to find it again," he said. He looked up at Peeta and smirked cheekily. "It was a very sexy noise."
Peeta laughed. "Sexy? Me? Yeah, sur-ahhh." His sentence dissolved into another moan when Cato nipped at his collarbone.
"You are very sexy," he contradicted. "Which reminds me I must send whoever dressed you this morning a thank you card." He slid his hands down Peeta's legs slowly, gently swiping his thumbs along the scars on his ankles. "Wearing jeans like these should be a crime."
"Address it to Portia then. Alongside Cinna she was my sylist while you were in the Games. She gave me a whole bunch of clothes to bring back with me to 2," Peeta explained. "The seams are threaded together with thin slivers of gold." He spread his legs a bit to let Cato settle between them and threaded his hand into his hair. "I was actually considering putting on a pair of trackies instead but I thought maybe you'd . . . like the jeans."
Cato grinned. "Aw, I love how you think about me. Wear them more often." He pressed his lips firmly against Peeta's before saying, "They make your ass look amazing." Peeta blushed and Cato kissed his pink cheeks, amused with his embarrassment. "The sneakers are cute as well. Keep those too."
"Okay," Peeta chuckled.
"Now," Cato said, unable to keep his eyes off his boyfriend's plump lips, mesmorized as he watched him wet them with his tongue, "back to that purr . . ."
Peeta moaned softly as Cato kissed him again, immediately welcoming him into his mouth. Cato cupped his face and tilted it up, stroking his cheekbones with his thumbs. Still sort of unsure of himself, Peeta hesitantly bent his knees and pressed them against Cato's thighs to keep him there. Cato smiled at his hesitation and wrapped his hands under his knees and wound them around his waist. Glad to have been helped, Peeta crossed his ankles together.
The noise returned when Cato gently grinded their hips together. He purred softly, the sound originating from the back of his throat. Cato broke their kiss, chuckling when Peeta whined, trying to reconnect their lips. "God, you're so sexy," he murmered, brushing some hair back from his face.
"Am not," Peeta muttered. He inhaled his own spit when Cato squeezed his backside and nearly choked. Cato nuzzled his neck and pressed a kiss against his chest, murmering sweet nothings about how he was wrong and how much he wished he could see it too. His eyes rolled behind his head and his back bowed off the bed, unwittenally giving the career more room to slip his other hand underneath him. He slipped his hands into the backpockets of his jeans.
"Fuck me," Cato muttered.
"Hey, that's my line," Peeta joked breathily.
Cato laughed. He sealed their lips together and grinded his hips again. Peeta purred again and recuperated, pushing his hips up against Cato's. The career moaned, biting the smaller boy's bottom lip and starting to rock against him. Peeta groaned, pushing his hands through his hair and slowly raking his nails down his clothed back.
"AAARGHH MY EYES!"
Shocked out of their lustful haze, Cato and Peeta broke their kiss and whipped their heads towards the door. Kayla stood there at the door, hand over her eyes and mouth hanging open. "Kayla!" Cato yelped. Peeta quickly broke away from Cato, unwrapping his legs from his waist and scrambling back against the headboard of the bed, slightly shell-shocked.
"I'm so sorry," Kayla said, backing up and banging against the wall. "I didn't mean to interuppt anything. I just heard a noise upstairs and got excited because I knew you were home. I-I-I oh crap, sorry, I'll just go-"
Cato flew off the bed and grabbed his sister, pulling her up to his arms and hugging her tight. Kayla yelped in surprise but hugged him back. She spontaneously burst into tears and hugged him back. "Oh Christ Kayla, I missed you," Cato said, squeezing her so tightly that Peeta feared her eyes were going to pop out of her head.
"Oh my god Cato, I missed you too!" Kayla yelled at him. When he put her down, she stepped back and thumped him. "You scared me to fucking death!" She screamed. "Don't ever scare me like that again!"
"Ow, sorry," Cato replied, rubbing his arm. "I didn't mean to."
"You should have seen Dad! He was crying! We all thought that 12 bitch was going to kill you!" Kayla cried. "And oh my god, poor Clove! I couldn't believe it and-and-and-" She looked past Cato and broke out into a smile. "Peeta!" She leaped onto the bed and wrapped her arms around Peeta's neck. "Thank God you're okay!"
"Hey Kayla," Peeta said, returning the hug. "Of course I'm okay."
Kayla pulled back, tears streaming down her face. "I'm so glad you're both safe," she whispered. She reached out and grabbed Cato's hand. "I-I thought you were going to die. I thought they were going to kill you. I didn't think I'd ever see you again. I couldn't stand it if you'd have died Cato, I just couldn't."
"Hey, hey, it's okay. I'm safe now," Cato assured her. He glanced at Peeta and smiled. "We both are."
"We sent flowers to the Jettison's household," Kayla explained. "To send our condolscenes. Marine sent them back . . . Ian later returned and said thanks and apologised for his ex's behaviour. They don't blame you Cato, just know that right now, they do not blame you for Clove's death. They blame 11 for it even though it wasn't really his fault either. We're going to help them through this, all of us. Mum, dad and I decided this when we found a picture of yourself and Clove in the sandpit in the park when you were five . . . we wanted to help somehow."
Cato smiled sadly. "That's really sweet Kay."
His sister smiled before something caught her eye. "Oh the cane!" she exclaimed, lurching over the side of the bed and snatching up Peeta's new glass cane. "Oh how I've missed this cane! What the hell have they done with it?" She pulled a face and peered through the transparent stick. "Is this real glass?"
"Yeah," Peeta answered. "The Capitol changed it."
"Those assholes," Kayla said. "I loved your old rickety cane!"
Peeta smiled sadly. "Me too."
Kayla sat ontop of the bed, legs crossed, and stared at the cane for longer than normal. Peeta and Cato watched her carefully, wondering what was up. A silent tear slid down her cheek and dripped onto the cane. "I thought you weren't coming back," she whispered. "Neither of you." Her face crumpled and she covered her eyes with her elbows.
"Hey squirt, it's okay," Cato said, kneeling infront of her and wrapping his arms around her small frame. "It's alright. We're both safe."
"You have to promise both of you are never going to go into the Games again and are going to be safe from now on," Kayla insisted.
Peeta glanced at Cato nervously. Sure, he was never going to go into the Games again-from now on he'd be a mentor-but there was no guarantee that either of them were ever going to be safe again. There was always going to be the threat of Snow and Harold, of the consquences if they don't comply with the President's demands. They were never going to completely and utterly safe ever again.
He was startled as Cato took his hand and looked up at him. His boyfriend was smiling sadly at him, very likely thinking the exact same thoughts as himself. "I promise Kay," he said, stroking his sister's hair tenderly. "And I also promise that we will spend more time together. Because we haven't done that enough and I never realized until I had an arrow pointed at my heart."
"It's okay," he assured her. "We're going to get through all this together." He locked eyes with Peeta again and smiled. He cupped his cheek and stroked the fading bruise below his eye.
"Together?" Peeta asked quietly.
"All of us," Kayla agreed.
Ha lol, no, only joking. There will be a sequel. I'll publish it as soon as I can! ^_^
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