Thank you for sticking with me everyone! I have great news, this story is currently being proof read and grammatically edited from beginning to end by my lovely sister! So I will be reloading the chapters soon to put up the edited version, so I apologize if you get a false story alert, I'll do my best to choreograph them with updates so as not to get hopes up! And if anyone else noticed Johannas 3rd rule was missing from chapter 6, it's now fixed but it was "put the fucking toilet seat down." I still don't own anything or make anything from this. Warnings: Adult Language
When I wake hours later the room is pitch black, I look over to my bedside clock and see it's only 3 AM. Katniss is laying just as she was when I fell asleep, I have to pee but I really don't want to disturb her. Human contact is something I didn't even realize I missed, but now that I have it I never want to let go. I stay where I am until almost 4 before I can't take it anymore, I try my best to extract myself from under her without too much jostling. I manage to get me out but not the towel I fell asleep in, so after I get my prosthetic on I grab a pair of sleep pants and head to the bathroom.
When I come out I can see her outline sitting up in bed, the morning sun has just started its journey and the room is bathed in a low, gray light that seems to make her silver eyes glow when they land on me.
"Sorry, I tried not to wake you."
"It's alright, I slept more last night than I have in like 2 years." She holds my towel up before continuing, " I thought I was going to get a show this morning."
"I'm afraid that wouldn't be much of a show at this point, something they put me on in there put an end to any action from Fred."
"Fred? You seriously call your dick Fred?" I shrug feeling the heat creeping up my neck.
"Well, it's not like I have conversations with it, I just name everything Fred." It's silent for a minute, I'm pretty sure that's got to be the creepiest morning conversation in history. And then she starts laughing, and not just a little tinkling laugh, it's a gut cramping laugh that brings moisture to her eyes and doubles her over so her face is buried in my bed by her knees. I just stand there and enjoy the sight, I can feel the tug at the corner of my lips, mouth trying to smile, because this is about the happiest moment I've had since everything went to hell. When she gets a hold of herself I quirk an eyebrow at her.
"I think so. You've got to admit, Peeta, it's hilarious."
"Nah, you're just twisted. You hungry?"
"Am I ever not?"
"Good answer. I don't know what the grocery situation is, we can go to that little diner by the bakery if you want, I think it's 24 hours."
"Hmm, what if we get it to go and bring it back here, I don't want Heidi to wake up and wonder where I am. She loves Jo, but she's never slept over here before."
"Sounds good, let me grab a shirt."
We order enough for Johanna and Finnick too, they can re-heat it when they wake up. Everyone is still out when we get back so we eat our breakfast with minimal talk. Normally I'd try to fill the void with pointless words but I just feel too heavy today. Sleeping the day away was a nice solution for yesterday, I don't think they're going to let me sleep today away though. Besides I still need to talk to Finnick, Haymitch and Pacer about Phoenix's funeral. The thought sours my appetite instantly.
Heidi toddles into the kitchen shortly after we finish eating she rubbing her tired eyes with one little fist and has her stuffed elephant wrapped in her other arm. She wears a pouty scowl that not one person could deny belongs to her Mother.
Katniss picks her up and runs her hand over Heidi's dark hair as she lays her head on Katniss shoulder. She rocks her to and fro for a moment before speaking to her in a hushed voice. Whatever she tells the little one gets her attention and her head pops off Katniss shoulder and starts looking frantically about the room until her eyes fall on me.
"Peeya! Peeya! I has elly! Peeya sad? Elly makie better!" She says excitedly, extending her little arm to hand me the stuffed animal. I step closer, just close enough to reach out and take the elephant, it looks very old, but well cared for, the colors have faded and they button eyes have obviously been replaced. It probably belonged to Katniss as a child, or maybe Prim.
"Wow Heidi! You want me to have elly?" She nods her tiny baby head as vigorously as she can.
"Elly make Peeya happy!"
"Elly, does make me happy, but I think elly might miss you if I kept him, don't you think?" She furrows her brows trying to understand what I've just told her.
"You know what would make me happy? If you kept elly and give me a big smile, how's that sound?" This must be an acceptable trade, as she gives me a heart melting grin as I pass elly back.
"Let's go get you changed and then you can have some pancakes." Katniss tells her, I can hear a quiver in her voice like she's choking on a lump in her throat, I wonder what I did to make her want to cry. They stay until Finnick wakes up, she sneaks a chaste goodbye kiss in as Finnick hugs Heidi goodbye, she makes me promise to call her after I take care of everything today.
After I show them out I head back to the kitchen and sit down across from Finnick, who has found the breakfast. He looks up at me with a sad smile.
"I'm really sorry about Phoenix, man. He was too young to go."
"Yeah, he was. I wish I'd had the chance to say goodbye, tell him I love him."
"He knew Peet, don't beat yourself up to much about it, hell I don't think even the Everdeen sisters could rival the sibling bond you guys had." I just nod because I don't know how to respond, the last time I saw my brother I was angry and destructive, then I ignored his call like the prick I am. The silence stretches on for a few minutes before I bring myself back to the conversation that needs to happen.
"So uh, I know this has got to be an awkward situation for you Finn, and trust me I completely understand if you say no. What, um, what are the chances of me being able to stick around here awhile longer?" He gets a confused look on his face.
"What do you mean? Where else would you go?" I shrug.
"I'll figure it out, I doubt you want a lunatic running around your place."
"If I didn't want a lunatic here I would never have moved Johanna in, but I don't see what she has to do with you leaving." I stutter for a second trying to find the words I need to explain I wasn't calling Johanna a lunatic until I look up at Finns shit eating grin.
"I'm fuckin' with you Peet! You and Jo are like family, as long as you don't start sniffing my socks or boxers we're good."
"Don't worry about that, I prefer your shirts." I tell him and he cracks up.
"I tried to come see you, they wouldn't let me in though. That bitch Coin put a fucking lock down on you, Pacer hardly got in. Haymitch went up there 3 times before they finally let him see you. Katniss tried at first but she was completely rejected and put on a blacklist since she made my mistake and said she was a friend."
"Well, there wasn't much to see, I'm kinda glad they didn't let you guys in, I wasn't in a very good mindset in there. I guess Coin used to be friends with my mother, so there's really no telling how much of that was actual regulation and how much was mother." I'm desperate to stop talking about that hell hole, "So how's things with Annie?"
"Getting better, slowly. But hell, it's a shitload better than where we were before."
"You know what they say, the good things in life take time." He nods and goes back to his food as Jo walks in the kitchen.
"Morning boys, you better have some food for me fuckers."
I wait until almost 10 before calling Pacer, he tells me he's paid for the cremation but can't afford the viewing fee, it's $4,500 for a 30 minute viewing for 10 people. It's seems like an astronomical amount of money, it's like they are cashing in on peoples suffering making us pay so much for just one final goodbye. I can't do anything about their morals though so I just tell him my debit card number so he can pay for the viewing and I can at least send my brother into the afterlife with my love. He calls back shortly thereafter to let me know the viewing is set for the following morning at 9, he asks if mother and Dad can attend, I tell him it's up to him. He tells me he's going to ask Uncle Chaff to come as well as Phoenix's girlfriend. That still leaves 4 vacancies so he asks if I want to ask Katniss along for support and Finnick as they were friends in high school. Finnick politely declines, saying he doesn't feel right intruding no matter how much I insist he's not. Katniss agrees after talking to her Dad about watching Heidi.
I look through my contacts wondering how in the hell I managed to work somewhere I don't even have the phone number to, and of course it's not on yellow pages either. I guess I'll wait until 2 and just go up there. That leaves me 4 hours idle time, and idle hands are dangerous. I try to immerse myself in a game on Finns new PS4, but I can't keep my focus on the game so I pass it off to Johanna and go for a jog. My body isn't use to it anymore and I can't even make it to the park before I'm winded and my un-leg is starting to ache. I down a few glasses of water when I get home and contemplate calling my Dad. I don't really know if I should, for either of our sakes, but not calling seems like a shitty thing to do. He may be a coward and neglectful but he does love us and he did just loose a 3rd child. I dial his cell but it just rings, Annie answers the cafe phone and tells me he hasn't been in since Phoenix passed. When I call the house phone mother answers and tells me "He doesn't want to talk to you psycho, quit fuckin' calling!" So I just sit at the kitchen table, phone dark in front of me, utterly lost in this cruel twilight zone that allows the death of my brother and still allows a shrew like her to survive. I suppose I stare at my phone for about an hour before a hand on my shoulder scares the living shit out of me.
"Sorry! I wasn't trying to startle you." Katniss' smooth voice says before sitting in the chair next to me and taking my hand.
"Guess I got lost in my head, sorry. Where's Heidi?"
"In the other room, want to come say hi?"
"Absolutely." So instead of staring at my phone until 2, I spend the time playing blocks with Heidi and Katniss, talking about elephants and flowers.
I almost think Haymitch is going to hug me when he opens his office door, unless I'm still loopy on the pills I could swear I see relief flash across his face.
"You miss me old man?"
"Hell no, I miss you cookin'! I gotta flip one more fuckin' burger I'm walkin' out and leavin' a match behind."
"So I still got a job?"
"What do you think bread boy? Have your ass here on time like always."
"Alright, I'll see ya later then." He nods dismissively so I turn and make my way out of the office.
"Hey Peeta?" I turn back surprised at the use of my given name. "Stay alive, huh."
"Sure thing Haymitch, can't have you serving anymore burgers as steaks now can we?"
"Talked to Seeder then have ya?"
"No, Katniss told me. I had no idea there was a person alive that couldn't tell the difference between ground beef and steak."
"Nobody said I didn't know the difference. I just didn't care. Still don't, so make sure you have your ass here so I don't lose any more customers huh." I can't help but laugh a little as I leave the bar, Haymitch is a trip.