This is a promptsinpanem submission for the deadly sin "greed" and is based on the show Breaking Bad.
Katniss pulled back the hood of her clean suit and zeroed the digital scale before removing the batch, checking the reading a second time before tossing the tightly cellophane wrapped pack with the others.
"One pound exactly," she said, jotting the number along with the cook date on the label. "That's eight total." She unzipped the rest of her bright yellow clean suit, letting out a sigh of relief at the rush of cool air against her skin.
"Well you're slipping sweetheart," Haymitch said. He was holding a large crystal pinched between a pair of cooking tongues. Flicking it beneath the light that was clipped to the small counter top, Katniss frowned when it failed to diffract much light. "We'd have gotten another 10 ounces from this cook if it weren't so foggy."
She pulled the tray from the counter and began dropping the impure crystals into a plastic bag. "Gale will still be able to sell it," she said defiantly. "Beggars can't be choosers."
"And that's the clientele you're looking for now? Don't get greedy, sweetheart. Beggars are beggars for a reason."
Haymitch had a point. Due to the quality of their product, Firecracker, a red tinted crystal methamphetamine, was mostly supplied to high end distributors. These distributors were discreet and could move large quantities, but they didn't pay very well, keeping most of the cut for themselves.
Gale on the other hand was one of Katniss's closest friends. He was fair in dividing his profit equally, even though the people he sold to in the Seam weren't exactly trustworthy. If any of them were caught with Firecracker in their pocket, every finger in town would be pointing in Katniss's direction.
It had happened once before. This kid Marvel from the richer side of town had ended up with her product in his hand, and through the grapevine had learned her name, where she lived, and more importantly, the identity of her little sister. She had fired a bullet through his heart when he'd threatened her family. Her first kill. Haymitch's associate, Cinna, dissolved the body using a synthetic fire compound. She could still picture his flesh boiling, as if being eaten by acid, as his limbs were burnt away.
She stared at the cloudy batch long after they'd finished packing away their equipment into the various compartments of the old Winnebago they cooked in. Tossing around the crystals in her palm for another moment, she slipped the plastic bag into her coat pocket. Even though cooking had been a lucrative business, money was always tight in the Everdeen household and no opportunity for a sale could be overlooked.
"You look awful, by the way," Haymitch said from the driver's seat. The sputter of the ignition coughed with the turn of the key before the steady hum of the engine was rattling the whole RV. Katniss rolled her eyes as she slid into the passenger seat. "You sleeping?"
She closed her eyes and was immediately assaulted with the image of Glimmer, face swollen and full of puss as her lifeless body was decomposed. She wasn't a direct victim, but still, a casualty of the business that haunted her nearly every waking moment.
"Me?" she said distantly. "Never."
"You ever want the secret, I've got a few tried a true methods," he said, tapping the pocket of his jacket that always contained his trusted flask.
"Let me guess," she said, her tired eyes burning as the RV crept through the hazy desert sunset. "They all include 80 proof."
"It's all the proof you need."
Haymitch hadn't been in the business any longer than Katniss had, but he had plenty of demons of his own. His wife had been brutally murdered decades back, leaving him with a thick skin and a hardened liver. Katniss had barely noticed his struggles as he lectured her through AP chemistry junior year, which was why it was all the more shocking when he'd come to her with a business proposition the year before.
It was dark by the time they rolled into the edge of town. Haymitch would continue on to see Pluarch Heavensbee, second hand to the kingpin of the cartel, Coriolanus Snow, where he'd make the drop. Katniss was rarely privy to such exchanges, nor did she want to be. She wasn't in the business for the power, she was in it for the paycheck.
"You can drop me off at the corner," she said, pointing out the dash towards a stretch of sidewalk just out of the reach of the streetlamp.
"Working tonight?" he said with a tinge of amusement. The RV lurched to a stop and Katniss pushed the door open.
"Only way to make an honest living."
Patting down her jacket one last time, where the meth was stowed, she assured it wasn't visible to prying eyes before she made her way up the street. The bar she tended was only a few blocks away, and at a brisk pace, she made it there in record time.
Gale drove a delivery route that brought him to that side of town on Thursdays, and he usually stopped by for a drink when he got off, so Katniss carefully tucked her jacket with the stash behind the counter, ready for him to retrieve it.
There were only a few patrons at the Hob. Some were scattered about the dark booths that lined the walls and only two people were seated at the bar. Katniss couldn't help the twitch of a smile that curved her lips at the sight of a certain blond, sitting on the nearest bar stool.
"Back so soon?" she said, sliding a cocktail napkin across the counter. Already she was methodically filling a highball with his usual, a scotch and soda.
"Whatever you're serving isn't strong enough," he said, popping another peanut into his mouth. "By the next morning the buzz wears off and I have to come back for more."
"That was the plan," she said, finishing off his drink.
He leaned forward on his elbows, her perfect grin almost blinding, even in the dim light.
"Missed me did you?"
She placed the glass on the napkin in front of him then moved swiftly to the other side of the bar to tend to the next customer.
"Hey, hey, wait," he followed after her, sliding onto the stool beside the guy she had paused to wait on. "What are you doing later?"
She tilted a pint glass beneath the tap and filled it with amber liquid, adjusting the angle of the glass as it tapered off to stop it from turning to foam.
She set the glass before the other customer.
"Funny," Peeta said, still at her heel when she rounded the bar to check on the booths. "You had no problem remembering my name the other night."
She rolled her eyes, brushing passed him to take down orders.
"Come on," he said, following her back to the bar where she began to prepare a round of drinks. "What are you doing later?"
She sighed. "I get off at one," she acquiesced.
He leaned across the counter so that his lips brushed her ear. "You meet me in the men's room and I can get you off in ten minutes."
"Is that the pickup line you've been working on?" she said with a laugh. She lined up a few shot glasses and filled them to the brim with clear liquid. "You do want me to sleep with you, right?"
"Not my best attempt, I admit." He reached for his scotch and soda and took a healthy sip. "I was hoping we were passed those sort of semantics, I guess. It's been a few weeks now," he said with a shrug.
"You're not asking to call me your girlfriend, are you?" she said, and although she only meant it as a joke, she couldn't help but notice the blush that crept up his cheeks.
He rebounded quickly. "I referred to you as my fiancee in the engagement announcement, I hope that's okay."
Katniss finished off the last drink and arranged them on her tray. She looked at him skeptically before hoisting the tray over her shoulder. "Do you even know my last name?" she said.
She smiled and shook her head. His last name began with an M. Mellark, she thought. And although he'd become a semi-regular over the past few months, his license was from out of state, she remembered from the first time she had carded him. That was all she knew about him. His name, an address she didn't recognize, and a birthday in March.
She felt his eyes on her as she crossed the bar and handed out the drinks. The heat of his stare was piercing. Nobody had ever looked at her that way before. She liked it.
When she returned behind the counter, he gestured for her to join him, leaning over the bar as if to tell her a secret.
"Everdeen," he said, and before she could step back he caught her lips with his.
"1A.M." she reminded him, feeling slightly dazed.
His phone began to buzz and he pulled it from his pocket, punching some buttons to retrieve the message. He grimaced. "I'm getting called into work."
"At 9:30?" she said skeptically.
"Better be important," he agreed.
Her eyes darted towards his phone then back to him. "Are you a doctor or something?"
"Um, no." He shook his head. "More like a pharmaceutical rep, I suppose." He pulled out a few bills and placed them beside his half full glass. "One o'clock?" he said, arching an eyebrow and she nodded in confirmation.
"Or whenever you finish with that," she said, pointing towards his phone.
"Hopefully sooner than later." He bent over the counter again and she smiled when he kissed her.
With her main distraction gone, Katniss found her mind dwelling on the stash hidden beneath the counter. Probably a couple grand, if Gale pulled off the deals he usually did. She checked the time and tried not to wonder where he was. Drugs were a worthless currency in her pocket, and she'd rather just have the cash. It made her feel paranoid when she carried them herself.
For the rest of the night, she jumped every time the door opened, hoping that Gale would pass through. She stared at the clock as 1AM came and went and the last customer had left, the bag of meth still heavy in her pocket.
"Damn you, Gale," she mumbled, turning the last lock on her way out. Her apartment was only a few steps from the bar, on the other side of the street. She glanced briefly up the road before she crossed, already untucking her phone from her back pocket to send a message to Gale. She had only typed a few words when an incoming text interrupted her.
Haymitch: We have a problem.
She narrowed her eyes. "Shit," she muttered under her breath.
Plutarch probably noticed the batch was short from the cloudy cut she'd skimmed off the top. Snow wouldn't be able to sell it, but he had provided the ingredients for the cook and would be furious if he knew she was trying to make a few bucks off it. No. That couldn't have been it. They had made weight for the last order. Plutarch wouldn't be asking any questions.
Waiting until she reached her apartment and was safely inside, Katniss tossed her coat over the back of a dinning room chair then brought her phone back to life.
What? She answered shortly.
The moment she hit send, there was a tap against the door. Her heart leapt into her throat, her eyes darting between the phone in her hand and the source of her latest visitor. She peered through the peephole carefully, sighing with relief when she found Peeta on the other side.
She pocketed her phone and opened the door. "How was work?" she said, welcoming him in.
He kissed her, his lips frosty, sending shivers up and down her spine. Yet still, she melted against him instantly. He pressed his forehead to hers and held her cheeks with his chilled fingers.
"A bust," he said with a tired sigh. "More like a wash. You?"
She eyed the lump in the pocket of her coat, draped across the chair. "Wash is a good word for it."
His thumb traced the dark circles beneath her eyes. "You look tired," he said, concern creasing his brow.
She leaned into his chest and allowed her eyes to flutter shut, just long enough for images of Marvel and Glimmer to flash behind her eyelids. Peeta tightened his arms around her, his lips pressing against her forehead, bringing her to ease in an instant.
He guided her down the hallway towards her bedroom, and she let him strip her naked. She reveled in the way he touched her, the way he looked at her, like he couldn't see the monster hidden beneath the surface. He kissed along invisible scars, leaving the skin beneath it clean.
"You felling better?" he asked when his hand slipped between her legs.
She bit her lip and nodded furiously, moaning when he pushed into her. She lifted her hips to meet his thrusts when he picked up speed. Her only thought was of the delicious friction from where they were joined. When she closed her eyes now, she only saw fireworks.
Peeta fell asleep shortly after, but Katniss still felt wired. She checked her phone to find that Haymitch had messaged her again, and remembered the ominous text he had sent earlier.
Checking to make sure that Peeta was still sleeping, she padded down the hall and dialed Haymitch's number.
"You rang?" she said.
"I did," he said. "A couple times actually."
She scoffed. "I was busy."
"I bet," Haymitch said. "You want the good news or the bad news first?"
"Let's start out on a good note. I'll take the bad," she said, checking over her shoulder to ensure Peeta hadn't followed her.
"We have some competition."
"Some kids clear the pharmacy of pseudoephedrine?" she said dryly.
"They're calling him the Baker," he said and he didn't sound amused. "He's making orange glass. Looks just like yours."
She rolled her eyes. "Sounds like a cheap imitation. Snow knows what he's getting with our product."
"It's 100% pure."
That didn't make sense. The only reason why their stuff was red was because of an impurity in their process. Haymitch had tested the clarity once and it was somewhere around 97%.
"Then why is it orange?"
"Because we've got some competition," he repeated. "He's dyeing it on purpose."
Fine. They couldn't expect total domination of the Panem market forever. They'd have to get creative.
"The good news then?"
"This Baker isn't the only new friend joining the party," Haymitch said.
She sighed heavily and pressed her palm against her forehead. "What color is there's?"
"I don't know. What color is the DEA wearing these days?"
Her eyes widened. They were in trouble now.
"There's an agent on us?" she tried not to shout. She was struck with an idea and smiled wickedly. "You going to stick him on our new friend?"
"If I can swing it."
"Got any leads on him?"
"That's where the good news comes in," and she could hear him chuckle. "Check your messages, sweetheart. He's cute," he said, his voice uncharacteristically playful.
Katniss opened her e-mail and downloaded the attachment Haymitch had sent, nearly dropping her phone at the image staring back at her.
Peeta Mellark, Special Agent
A DEA agent. She had nearly a pound of crystal meth in her jacket and a DEA agent sleeping in her bed. She looked up the hallway towards her darkened bedroom door. It was eerily silent, even with the blood rushing through her ears.
She had to get rid of the drugs. She had to get rid of him.
His coat was thrown over hers on the dining room chair and when she tossed it aside, something slipped from his pocket. His badge. And something else.
She picked up the small dime bag, holding it up to the light to find a packet of perfectly clear, orange crystals.
"Katniss?" She could hear his footsteps moving down the hallway, his voice still tired with sleep.
She began to panic, diving towards the bread drawer where her gun was hidden.
Peeta stood at the edge of the room. His eyes landed on the drugs on the table and then at the gun pointed at him.
"What's going on?"
"Who are you?" she demanded.
"Katniss," he said calmly. "Put the gun down."
"Who are you?"
He picked up the bag of Firecracker to inspect it. "Where did you get this?"
She shifted her weight from foot to foot, her throat too dry to speak.
"You selling it?"
There was way too much to pass as a user. She tried to nod but couldn't.
"Did you make this?" he asked, his eyes widening.
"You don't get to ask the questions," she said, flicking the safety and clicking a bullet into the chamber.
He laughed and shook his head in disbelief. "You're the fire girl, aren't you?" He dropped the bag onto the table. "Shit."
"What about you?" she said. She waved the gun at him, urging him to meet her eye, which he did easily. He wasn't afraid of her at all, and it was driving her crazy. "Are you DEA? Or are you the Baker?"
"The Baker?" he chuckled. "About time." He pinched the dime bag of orange crystals and held it up to the light. "Pretty good, huh? I don't get why they call it cooking. It's a chemical reaction. That's baking, right?" She didn't answer. "No offense, but you're stuff –?" He pointed to the firecracker. "That? It's pretty amateur."
"That batch was a dud," she said flatly.
"Oh, no, I've seen it plenty. Pehnylacetone reduction, right?" She hesitated to nod. "You're cooking too hot. You could have saved this."
She narrowed her eyes. "What are you doing?"
"Giving you some tips."
"I want you to work for me." He took a few tentative steps towards her to make sure she wouldn't shoot. "I can help you, Katniss."
Her finger quivered over the trigger. One squeeze and all her current problems would be solved.