Prim kicks her in the shin so hard that she thinks it might actually bruise. She drops her menu, but that’s mostly just so that she can glare at her.
“What was that for?” she asks.
“It’s him!” Prim hisses, gaze fixed somewhere over Katniss’ shoulder. It must be someone important, if she thinks that he’s worth the assault. Katniss cranes her neck, but the restaurant is mostly deserted and Katniss doesn’t recognize either of the guys sitting behind them.
“Who?” she asks. Based on the glare this earns her, she’s pretty sure her sister would disown her right now if she could.
“Peeta Mellark!” Prim says, right back to staring at him. “Honestly, Katniss. We just marathoned his movies last weekend.”
Katniss didn’t. Katniss sat in the living room, computer on her lap, and ate Prim and Rue’s popcorn. She thinks she actually put headphones in, at some point, if that gives you any idea of how invested she was in the series of chick flicks. But she nods, anyway, turning back around. She actually does vaguely recognize him. “Oh, yeah,” she says.
He’s wearing a baseball cap. Katniss strongly suspects that it’s to cover his signature blond curls, but it doesn’t do much good. Based on the manners he’s displaying – elbows on the table, laughing at whatever his redheaded friend is saying – she wouldn’t be against saying that it’s just because he’s enough of a dick to wear a hat in the restaurant.
“So, you want to get a picture with him?” Katniss guesses. This earns her another swift kick in the leg.
“Say it a little louder!” her sister says, rolling her eyes.
“Oh, come on,” Katniss says. “I think anyone who’s seen your bedroom wall would be able to guess that you want it. Isn’t he your lock screen?” she asks. She reaches for her sister’s phone, where it rests on the table, but Prim swats her hand away. “I’ll take that as a yes, then.”
“Come on,” Katniss continues. “None of your friends will believe you saw him and you know it.”
“It’s not the biggest stretch!” Prim defends. “He grew up in the Merchant Quarter, and he likes to stay around there when he’s not filming.”
The Merchant Quarter? She didn’t realize he was from anywhere so close to them. She’s gotten very good at tuning her sister out.
“Do you honestly think you could forgive yourself – or me – if you don’t get your picture taken with him?” Katniss challenges. Prim tugs her hair over to rest on one shoulder and looks at herself in the reflection of her phone.
“Well, I’m just thinking, you know, if I’m inconspicuous, like maybe I don’t know him . . . you’re oblivious. What’s something you would say?”
“You know it would be illegal for anything to happen between you two, right?” Katniss says.
“I’m seventeen, Katniss. Not twelve,” she protests. Katniss just raises her eyebrows, waiting for her to realize what she’s just said.
“What’s your plan, then? Just walk up, say hi to the redhead –”
“His name is Finnick,” Prim interrupts. Katniss hopes that isn’t something creepy for her to know. Does MTV have a show about obsessed fans yet?
“– or are you going to let me be a good big sister and take care of it?” Katniss asks. She takes Prim’s silence as agreement.
“The good news is, since we haven’t ordered, we can leave if they laugh at us!” she says brightly, since being a good big sister doesn’t always mean she has to be nice. She’ll get a pass, anyway. Prim will be talking about this for ages.
When she’s sure that Prim is going to follow, she lets go of her hand and fishes around in her pocket for her phone.
The blond sees her first. He straightens up a little bit in his seat. This cues the redhead, and he turns around in his seat, arm stretched out over the back of his side of the booth. He plasters a big, phony smile on.
“Hey, darling,” he says. Based on Prim’s giggles, she thinks it’s supposed to be charming. It just comes across as fake as hell. “What can I do for you ladies?”
She already dislikes him, so she addresses the other guy instead.
“This is my sister, Prim. She’s a huge fan of yours, Peter, and –”
“Peeta!” Prim cries, like maybe Katniss has just ruined her entire life. The boy – Peeta – doesn’t seem to mind, though. He looks amused, actually. His grin is much more genuine than his friend’s was. Katniss had been determined not to be embarrassed, but with those blue eyes trained on her the way they are, she can’t help it.
“Peeta,” Katniss repeats, correcting herself. “Prim is, clearly, a huge fan of yours. So I was wondering if I could get a picture of the two of you.”
The smile falls from his face. “Oh, man,” he says. “I’m about to ask something that’s going to make me sound like the world’s biggest ass. I’d love to take a picture with you two, but can we wait until after dinner?”
“No, that’s fine!” Prim says, way too quickly. “I’m sorry. We just . . . well, once Katniss puts her mind to something, you can’t talk her out of it. She’s stubborn, you know?”
“Katniss?” he repeats, questioning. “No, I’m sorry. It’s just, well, one picture gets posted on Facebook,” he glances over at Prim, but his eyes are back on Katniss when he continues, “or someone sees you taking it and tells their friends, well, the whole town is here. And this is one of my favorite places.”
Her sister had been ready to leave, but as soon as Peeta spoke, she was frozen in place.
“Have you ordered yet?” Peeta asks.
Katniss shakes her head. “No. But we’re sitting just over there, so if, when you’re finished, you’ll come and get us, it would be great.”
“I’ll do you one better,” he says, scooting down to make room. “How about you ladies have dinner with us?”
She wants to say no. The word is forming on her lips, because she got off work early and she was excited to get to see her sister, but Prim is nodding frantically before she has the chance. She doesn’t even glance over at Katniss for permission.
“We’d love to!” she says, already heading for the empty spot beside Peeta. Thankfully, he stops her.
“Tell you what. Katniss, you can sit by me, and – Prim, was it? You can sit with Finn over there.”
Her sister is clearly a little disappointed by this development, but Katniss is more than willing to sit beside Peeta. She’s a little afraid that if she doesn’t, her sister’s hand will end up on Peeta’s thigh, and that won’t end well for anybody.
“So,” Finnick says after he’s exchanged pleasantries with her sister. “Katniss, was it? How is that you’re the only girl in America that doesn’t know Peeta’s name?”
She laughs awkwardly.
“Since he doesn’t seem to want to introduce himself to you – this is my friend Finnick,” Peeta says, addressing Katniss directly. “He’s . . . protective. And naturally distrustful. Don’t take it personally.”
“I’m only distrustful because you’re naïve,” Finnick returns. “I’m serious. I’m about to check this girl for cameras and wires.”
“Finnick,” Peeta warns.
“Fine, fine. But when this whole thing leaks on TMZ, I’m not doing damage control.”
“You’re all talk,” Peeta says, but he’s smiling, so Katniss figures this is probably a pretty common thing between them.
“You don’t have to worry about Katniss,” Prim says, talking to Finnick more than Peeta. “She doesn’t even like Peeta’s movies.”
Is this her sister trying to get payback for not being able to sit next to Peeta? Katniss gives her a death glare, but she can’t help but to notice the way Finnick is staring her down. She steals his menu and starts to look over it. What was she going to order? Maybe she’ll get a glass of wine with it, if Peeta’s buying. She’ll need it, if her sister is going to keep being a bitch tonight.
“Is that so?” Peeta asks. She doesn’t respond. “You can tell me. I’m not going to get offended. Finnick rags on the chick flicks often enough for me to be thick skinned.”
Prim looks at her, eyes wide, like Katniss shouldn’t even be considering telling him the truth. But he should know better than to claim he’s thick skinned if he isn’t.
“I think they’re sexist,” Katniss admits. “I think they pretend to be progressive and they do more harm than good. It doesn’t count to have a badass lady character if her only defining trait is that she’s badass. And that director you work with – Cato? I think he’s disgusting and does the same thing in every movie he makes.”
It’s quiet for a moment. She can tell that he’s trying to take in what she’s just said. Finally, he breaks the silence by laughing.
“I love them,” Prim says. “To the Moon and Back is my favorite. I’ve watched it probably a thousand times.”
“Oh, thank you,” Peeta says. They talk about the movie for a little while. Well, Prim talks about the movie. And Katniss actually feels sort of bad for Peeta, because she knows how long Prim can go on if she’s given the chance. He seems to have it covered, though. Prim listens in stunned silence to the story he tells about filming.
“Is it true that that’s going to be your last romance role, though?” she asks. Finnick glances over at her for a second and then goes right back to staring at Katniss. Shouldn’t Prim be on the threat list, with the way she’s trying to interview him? What has Katniss done?
“If things go according to plan. But I don’t want to say last,” Peeta answers with a winning smile. Could this guy get any faker? Katniss wonders if maybe he does think that they’re recording this, and he wants the conversation to get out. It would definitely explain the invitation. “All of my favorite action movies have some sort of romance subplot,” he adds. “So, you never know.”
“But you’re so good in the roles you normally play,” Prim insists. Katniss wonders if she’s trying to flatter him or if she thinks she can convince him not to move forward as an actor. Peeta sort of laughs.
“Would you believe me if I told you they weren’t ever the kind I wanted?”
This gets Katniss’ attention. He glances over at her when she puts the menu down.
“I mean, they’ve been great. And I’ve met so many people because of them, so I’m clearly not complaining. It’s just . . . well, we agreed to do the first one –”
“From Now until Forever,” Prim informs Katniss, her voice hushed.
“Right,” Peeta says. “We thought it would get my name out there, but all it did was make them want to stick me in the same type of role over and over again. So suddenly I became, like, the poster boy for romantic comedies, and there was nothing I could do about it.”
It’s quiet for a moment. Prim looks a little bit like her heart has been torn in half. Suddenly, Peeta grins.
“I’m sorry. First world problems, right?” he asks. Katniss surprises herself by laughing. There’s something familiar about him, but she’s not sure what it is.
He keeps glancing over at her. Does he think that she’s playing hard to get, or something? That she’s some sort of a challenge because she doesn’t like his movies? If he’s going by the types of relationships that get modeled in his movies, it could certainly make sense. Prim always thinks that everything is so romantic until Katniss points out the underlying problems. Especially in the ones with love triangles. Her sister claims that she’s just not a romantic, so she couldn’t possibly understand, but Katniss thinks she knows plenty.
She just hopes Prim hasn’t noticed the way he’s been watching her. That would make the ride home pretty awkward.
“So, Katniss,” Peeta says once their food has finally come. “Is it going to be unreasonably creepy if I ask what your last name is?”
“Why do you want to know my last name?” she asks. Prim looks at her from across the table, wide-eyed, like if Peeta asked for her social security number she should give it to him. He at least looks a little bit sheepish.
“Because you look so familiar,” he answers. “And then your sister called you Katniss and I realized that I’ve only ever met one Katniss in my life, and she went to school with me.”
She laughs, just because he’s right and it’s so absurd that she never put it together before. She had only been in his classes for a couple of months. Her family moved in and out of the school district so quickly. “Oh my God!” she says. “Peeta Mellark. I completely forgot.”
Prim looks completely betrayed, and Katniss feels a little bit guilty.
“Remember when we moved, Prim?” she asks, trying to include her, and her sister shakes her head. “You probably wouldn’t, you were so little. Yeah, Dad got transferred to another branch but we moved back after . . .” she trails off. Hopefully Prim knows what she means. After their father died, their mother wanted to be around family.
“Is that what happened?” Peeta asks. “You moved back home? Because you were gone as quickly as you came and I thought for a while there that you were a figment of my imagination.”
She sort of laughs. “Yeah, so to make a short story long, I was in Peeta’s class for . . . I don’t know, like two months, maybe?”
“That sounds right,” Peeta says. “We got let out for summer vacation and you never came back.”
“It sounds creepy when you put it that way.”
“It was creepy!” he insists. “Madge and I were getting ready to send out a search party.”
“Madge Undersee?” she asks, and he nods. Madge and Peeta had been two out of maybe three kids that bothered to learn her name while she was there. Not that it did them much good. “That’s funny. What a small world.”
“Well, when you never really manage to leave your hometown, it shrinks considerably,” Peeta points out, grinning.
She frowns. “No, you must have left, being in all those movies.”
He shrugs. “Temporarily. But that was just for acting classes and then for filming. I can’t seem to leave. Of course, Finnick doesn’t understand that.”
“Wait!” she says, because it’s all coming back to her now. “Speaking of acting. You wanted to be in the school play before I left, right?”
“I wanted to be,” he says. “But I didn’t actually get the role. You didn’t miss much. Just some set dressings I helped with.”
“Bet they’re regretting that now,” she says. This makes him laugh. Prim is being uncharacteristically quiet. Katniss feels guilty, like she should somehow be including Prim in this conversation, but it’s been a while since, other than her roommate, she’s been able to talk to someone even close to being a friend.
She ends up getting a picture with him before Prim does. He claims that it’s to send to Madge, so she leans in close, smiles, and she tries not to be focus on the way her sister is staring at her afterward, when she programs her number into Peeta’s phone.
Most of his movies are on Netflix. The next time she has a day off, she may or may not put her laptop on the coffee table, curl up on the couch, and search his name.
It’s the first time she texts him.
So, hypothetically, if one was to start watching your movies, which would you recommend?
should I be nervous?
too late. I’m nervous.
Starting at the beginning.
not the LMN movie.
Sorry. You could’ve saved yourself the hassle, though.
It’s called Candlelight and it doesn’t take long for her to realize that it wasn’t filmed all that long after she knew him. It was for one of those cheesy movie channels.
Omg you were so little!!
He’s pretty much just a supporting character. The son of a single mother that makes money by selling her homemade candles. There’s a murder, too. The woman’s alibi ends up being because of her candle-making. It’s pretty terrible.
I seriously can’t decide if it’s better that I’m not there or if I’d prefer to be able to see your reaction.
I was a kid. A stupid kid. And they asked if I wanted to be a star in a movie.
She sort of ends up on her phone for the majority of the movie. He’s not in it a lot, anyway. But his hair is so much curlier than he has it now.
I feel like I remember this hairstyle.
You do :(
The more she thinks about it, the more relieved she is that his movies are on Netflix. Because she really doesn’t want to borrow Prim’s copies. She’s pretty sure she’s still mad at her, anyway. And this is easier and significantly less embarrassing.
Or, at least, it is until Annie comes home. She flops down onto the couch beside her and they watch the movie in silence, for the most part. She’s on the second one of the day, and Peeta must be busy, because she hasn’t gotten a response to the jokes she’s sent him throughout the movie.
“What are we watching?”
“It’s called A Flower Still Blooms. It’s kind of terrible,” Katniss says. Peeta is playing the pretty boy next door love interest. As far as she can tell, that’s the sort of role he wants to move away from. She doesn’t blame him.
“How was work?” Katniss asks.
“Fine,” Annie answers, pulling her hair back into a ponytail. “I mean, I hate it, but it was fine.”
Just finished AFSB. I give it a 7/10. I didn’t know you did monologues.
Nothing too rampant.
“Oh!” Annie says. “To The Moon and Back! I’ve been wanting to see that one.”
She’s relieved that she doesn’t have to admit to how much time she’s spent watching movies today. She just leans back against the couch and clicks the title so it’ll play.
My roommate and Netflix both recommended I watch To The Moon And Back. I feel like I’m being judged.
You’re killing me
There’s no way I can talk you out of this, is there?
Can’t stop won’t stop. (Until this movie is over and I’ve officially wasted my entire day off on the couch.)
This is the one with Delly Cartwright in it. She plays Peeta’s flighty Manic Pixie Dream Girl counterpart. She wishes she could still feel superior, but she’s so sucked into it that she can’t even bring herself to respond to his texts.
And she actually even cries a little bit at the end, when Delly’s character dies. But she saw it coming within the first few minutes, so she’s probably just invested because of the way that Peeta’s character responds.
Annie cries, too. Not much, but enough to make Katniss feel like less of a loser for being so emotional.
Also, okay, maybe Katniss feels a little bit jealous. Which she knows is ridiculous. But, well, Katniss has heard enough about Delta, the name for the relationship between Peeta and Delly. Mostly through Prim, who hates Delly with a burning passion that sort of scares her.
Does this mean the radio silence has been a good thing?
I mean I haven’t been nervous.
Because that would be lame.
Lamer than me crying?
You liked it? :)
This stays between us.
Well, them and Annie. But she’s pretty sure Annie wouldn’t want to admit to crying over this, either.
You have my word.
Katniss has no idea how it happens. Just that she and Peeta have been talking for exactly four days when his name starts trending. She hasn’t heard Prim talk about Peeta having a new movie coming out, and she has a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach when she clicks on it.
It turns out that it’s justified. Her face is everywhere. She had thought that She had thought that the selfie looked decent on the screen of her phone when Peeta texted it to her, but when it’s blown up to full screen on the computer with question marks drawn on and around her face, it’s horrible.
So, is it too late to suggest you stay away from Twitter?
More concerned about dodging Finnick’s calls.
It wasn’t me.
That sounds like a lie. Or a bad 90s song. But seriously it wasn’t.
It’s okay. Better than the rumors about me and Delly Cartwright. Lol.
She’s grateful she didn’t see any comment threads as vicious as the ones she’s seen about Delly. Is that going to be her, now? She closes out the tabs, because she honestly doesn’t want to know, and checks her phone.
Ugh I knew I shouldn’t have answered the phone.
Finnick got me on the Flickerman show tomorrow because of course he did.
She listens to the radio on the way to work the next day. She tries to stall, but they keep playing songs to try to buy time until they have the biggest audience they can. Peeta and Caesar have only just exchanged pleasantries by the time she gets to work. She has to be behind the bar quickly, but Haymitch doesn’t mind when she turns the little gray FM radio behind the bar on, so she does.
“– It’s hardly going to come as a surprise to you that the Ask Caesar tag is filled with questions about that picture that’s surfaced.”
She hears Peeta laugh. “Yeah. I’m gonna pretend like I didn’t read a few of those, because . . . yikes.”
There’s another part of the internet she knows better than to look at, then.
“Do you mind talking about that?” Caesar asks. “I’m sure everyone is wondering, more than anything, who this mystery girl of yours is. Is she a fan?”
“Hardly,” Peeta answers, but he sounds sort of amused. “No, Katniss and I went to school together – really briefly – when we were kids. I was excited to see her again, but I don’t know how the picture got out. We’re both confused about that.”
“My sources tell me that they originated from a Tumblr blog. XPrim-in-the-rose-gardensX. They were deleted from there, but I’ve seen screenshots.”
It’s quiet. Katniss is supposed to be working, but all she can do is listen in stunned silence. She’s going to kill her sister.
“So . . . any idea who that could be?” Caesar continues. Peeta sort of laughs.
“What’s your relationship to Katniss?” Caesar presses on. Katniss isn’t entirely sure she likes how her name sounds.
“It’s like I said,” Peeta says. “We went to school together.”
“But have you been talking since the picture was taken? Is she listening today, do you think?”
“Yes, we’ve been speaking,” Peeta answers.
“Details, Peeta! Details! You’re killing us!”
Peeta laughs. “We were friends. She was, well, she was the first girl I ever liked.”
“And do those feelings still exist?”
“You’re relentless, Caesar. Yes. I have thought about her a lot over the years. Just, like, I don’t know. Wondering how she was doing. She’s gorgeous, too, and funny. And brave and strong and all kinds of other good adjectives,” he laughs.
A song plays, giving her time to at least get to work setting the tables. Peeta thinks she’s gorgeous? Why is it that she’s hearing this at the same time as the rest of his fan base? Should she be flattered or upset? She settles on a mixture of the two. Service with a smile just isn’t going to happen today.
“Okay!” Caesar says as soon as it’s over. “We’re here with Peeta Mellark, who has caused quite a stir with the picture that’s been leaked this past week. We’ve learned that the girl in the photo is named Katniss and Peeta has been harboring a crush on her since their days in school. Now, let’s take a question from the Ask Caesar tag.”
“All right,” Peeta says. Haymitch is watching her, probably because she’s slacking off, but this is important enough that she doesn’t care.
“Oh! A Delta question!” Caesar says. He sounds gleeful about it. “Someone wants to know what difference this makes in regards your relationship with Delly.”
“Delly?” Peeta asks. “It makes no difference. Delly and I are – and always have been – friends. She’s amazing, but we’re just friends. That’s not even to mention the fact that she’s madly in love with her boyfriend.”
“So do we need a new name?” Caesar asks. “What can we come up with for you and Katniss? Keeta? Patniss?”
The interview ends not long after that. She doesn’t check her phone until she gets off for lunch, and when she does, she has a few texts.
Guess it’s out. I’m sorry, Katniss.
So is it safe to assume you hate me?
And then, marked ten minutes later,
Look, it’s not like ignoring me is going to make it better. I’m sorry, okay?
I took the pictures down as soon as I posted them.
She doesn’t respond. She only has so much time for lunch, and even though she could spend it lecturing her sister, she doesn’t want to.
So Caesar is relentless and Finnick told me like a thousand times that I had to be honest
But I get that it was totally a dick move to say all that without clearing it with you first. I’m sorry.
She doesn’t answer him, either. Just finishes her work day and tries to convince herself that it’s all in her head, the way everyone seems to be looking at her.
Peeta and Prim both leave her alone when she gets home, but when she can’t sleep that night, her phone lights up with another text from him.
I hope you know how hard it was to keep myself from saying Peeniss
I figured you wouldn’t want to be branded that way.
She’s mad, and she’s trying to stay that way, but she can’t help the laugh that bubbles up when she reads this. So she breaks her silence.
And here I thought Delta was a good couple name.
Yeah, it’s got nothing on Peeniss.
More substantiated, too.
There goes the playing it cool approach, I guess.
Maybe you and Delly should form a support group.
She doesn’t answer at first. Doesn’t know what to say.
Like Finnick wouldn’t kill us both if this rumor got any more out of hand.
Doesn’t have to be a rumor…
and Finn’s blessing isn’t exactly up high on my list of priorities.
He does hate me, though.
Like I said. Naturally distrustful. Not the biggest deal.
Though it is worth asking . . . do you think it was Prim?
She said she’s sorry.
I haven’t gotten the full story yet.
though you probably wouldn’t help my case with Finnick any if you told him that.
Let’s just say it would be better than his current theory.
So Peeta’s not going to confirm it, then. He doesn’t have to. Katniss knows that Finnick hates her.
But how much bearing would Finnick’s opinion have on your answer if I were to ask you to do something sometime?
Probably not much.
Prim, on the other hand, has a ton of influence. And even if Katniss is going to have a hard time forgiving her for what she’s done with the picture, she’s pretty sure that Prim will never forgive her if she goes out with Peeta.
But that doesn’t mean that’s something she has to deal with tonight.
Prim spends the weekend at Rue’s house. Katniss didn’t know her sister’s URL, but she hasn’t been able to forget it since Caesar read it off on the show.
She feels like a bad sister for checking her blog, but she feels even worse when she sees the stuff her sister has said about her on there. Barely hidden under Read Mores. Stuff about how horrible she is. How her sister wishes that she had a normal family. How selfish it is of Katniss to try to act like she’s interested in Peeta all of a sudden. And Katniss is furious. Because if either of them have any sort of a claim on him, it would be her.
Did you ever go on Prim’s blog?
lol no of course not.
She hates me for talking to you.
I don’t think she *hates* you.
She called me a whore.
What can I do to make it better?
I don’t know. I’m just mad.
You should be!!
And then, a few minutes later,
You know she’s wrong, right?
Also, if it helps, she’ll get over it. I remember how close you two were when we were kids.
I run the risk of sounding conceited here, but maybe she needs to get over me?
I have connections, you know. I could introduce her to some young actor guy.
Don’t you dare. I don’t even like to think about her dating someone normal.
Fine, fine. Just don’t let her to get to you.
I’ll back off if you need me to.
no. I like talking to you.
She forces herself to leave her sister’s blog alone. Prim hates Delly, too. She’s heard too many conversations between her and Rue about it. She tries to convince herself that this is the same thing. That Delly can’t possibly take it personally every time someone posts mean things about her.
Maybe Peeta was onto something about that support group.
You know you can’t avoid me forever, right?
You say that like you’ve been doing any better.
Do you honestly want me to stop talking to Peeta?
You realize that he’s not any of the characters he plays, right?
Also I’m not trying to ruin your life.
Ugh. You just don’t get it.
You’re right. I don’t get it.
But I’ll listen if you’ll talk.
She doesn’t mention Tumblr. Something – probably Peeta’s of course not – tells her that Prim probably wouldn’t particularly like the idea of being discovered. But the conversation occurs over text message against her better judgment.
And Prim calls her names and says it’s not fair but then, in the end, she gets a response a lot closer to the sort she’s been looking for.
I’m not going to stop you from dating the guy.
You know, if we’re pretending I could stop you even if I tried.
Still, armed with her sister’s – hesitant – blessing, she texts Peeta to let him know that she’d like to do something this weekend. He responds with three smiley faces.
So what are we gonna do?
Doesn’t matter to me. Though, it’s been a while since I watched a movie without your face in it.
This gets them talking about movies, and he’s thoroughly outraged when he learns that she hasn’t seen the Iron Man movies. He announces that he has them all on DVD and that he’ll bring them over so she can see what she’s been missing out on.
It’s nice to actually see him again in person. Other than for the radio interview, this is the first time she’s heard his voice since they met up again in the restaurant. And she hears a lot of his voice, because it takes a long time for them to even mention watching the movie.
There are a lot of things Peeta wants to tell her. Things about the classmates she’s all but forgotten about, and about graduation and how his mother and father finally – finally finally – got a divorce not long after Katniss moved back home.
And she doesn’t mean to tell him about her dead father, but it slips out anyway, and he reaches over to take her hand and for some reason she doesn’t even feel like she should pull it away.
“And that was when you moved?” Peeta asks.
She nods, but she doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. He seems to be able to tell. He changes the subject without any further prompting.
“Is your favorite color still green?”
She actually laughs. “You remembered that?” she asks, a little amazed.
“I remember everything about you,” Peeta says matter-of-factly. “You’re the one who didn’t pay attention.”
She glances over at him. “I’m paying attention now.”
She half expects for him to make some quip about how it would be hard for her not to. To reference something about his acting. But he doesn’t. He just squeezes her hand.
“So . . . you meant it, then?” she ventures. It’s clear that he doesn’t know what she’s talking about, so she continues. “You know, with the adjectives. When you were talking to Caesar.”
“You think I could make that up?” he asks, his eyebrows drawn together in concern. She shrugs, and he shakes his head. “Nope. I'm an actor, Katniss. Not a liar.”
“So, what?” she asks. “I was the first girl you ever noticed?”
“Well, I noticed just about every girl, but you were the first one that made a lasting impression,” he answers. She gets up, at that point, to put the movie in. When he makes a comment about it being cold, she spreads her blanket over him, too.
It isn’t hard for them to settle into a routine, doing things like this. They don’t go out, but they don’t really have to. Especially since Katniss isn’t eager to share this relationship with everyone. Not yet. She doesn’t need another picture of herself to spread across the internet, at least not until Peeta teaches her how to deal with it.
It’s bad enough when, midway through The Avengers, Annie comes home. She tosses her hoodie towards the couch and it ends up hitting Katniss. Her surprise at Katniss having company – let alone date-y company – is evident.
“Oh!” she says. “Hey. Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. This one’s usually holed up in her room, so . . .”
Peeta laughs and looks over at Katniss, like he’s trying to figure out if this is true or not. “Well, I didn’t even realize she had a roommate. I’m Peeta, by the way, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Annie,” her roommate responds, and it’s clear that she knows who Peeta is, at least vaguely, but she joins them on the couch anyway. She and Peeta can talk back and forth easily about the movie, and Katniss has to actively try to tune them out. Especially when they start to debate back and forth about Thor and Loki.
“Ugh. You are just like Finnick,” Peeta says, and she can see the exact moment that he gets the terrible idea. She shakes her head, and he at least doesn’t say anything about it in front of Annie.
That night, however, is a different story.
Soooo . . . Finnick and Annie?
I will kill you.
oh, come on. . . It’s not like you couldn’t use the brownie points with Finnick . . .
We can supervise. I’ll keep Finnick in line.
He has to be supervised?! I am seriously doubting your judgment, Mellark.
Still, he talks her into it. Mostly because she’s seen all of the Marvel movies at his disposal and she’s ready for the one in theaters and Peeta has explained that he tries not to go out without Finnick when he can help it.
Apparently, they try to avoid things like what happened when she tried to get a picture of Prim and Peeta together. She doesn’t blame him, but he tries to explain that he’s glad he convinced Finnick to slack on the job that night, like he thinks she’s going to be offended.
But she suddenly understands why Finnick stared her down so much, because when Annie slides in across from her and Peeta at the dinner they go out to before the showing, she can’t help but to look at Finnick, trying to warn him. He laughs when he sees the look on her face, and then he smiles at her, and the expression is much softer than what she’s seen before.
“Peeta sure is crazy about you, you know,” Finnick says, his voice low. There’s a warning there, too. She can’t help but to smile at him.
“I know,” she says.
Peeta offers her his hand, and she takes it, lacing their fingers together and not exactly planning on letting go.