Katniss didn't know why it surprised her. She should have expected it; she should have known better.
She had already learned the depths of the Capitol's sexual depravity, had learned just how far Snow was willing to go to exploit others for his own personal and political gains: In the lead-up to her and Peeta's nuptials, the "The Wedding of the Century," which all of Panem had been invited to witness, she had discovered—inadvertently—the president's plans to broadcast their first night together as husband and wife. And all the nights after that—their sex lives were to become a regular broadcast special for those lucky Capitol viewers wealthy enough to pay the hefty price tag.
When she learned of Snow's schemes while in the Capitol to mentor for the third Quarter Quell, she had screamed and raged and cried, but Haymitch had said there was nothing that could be done if she wanted to protect her loved ones from certain death. It could be worse, he'd said, as if that were some kind of comfort. She had demanded to know what he meant, how it could possibly get any worse, and he'd looked her dead in the eye. "You're lucky viewers are so in love with you two as a couple. Otherwise, Snow wouldn't hesitate to sell you directly to Capitol citizens instead of just letting them watch."
She was sure if there had been anything in her stomach at that moment, she would have thrown it up.
Haymitch had told only her of the planned broadcasts, probably because, again, he'd correctly assumed that she was the only one who needed coaching on how to adequately love her soon-to-be spouse. Peeta didn't need to be told how to love her, to desire her; he was always so reliably good in that area because it was real for him. She didn't know what was real for her, except the injustice, the unfairness she felt at it all, at her own impotency.
She hated that feeling.
So she refused to let the Capitol control her completely, to have that part of her she'd yet to share with anyone; she wouldn't let those Capitol monsters be privy to something so private.
She'd tried to seduce Peeta during the games, the very night their tributes had died in the games, but he'd been too distraught, and then so utterly confused by her advances—he immediately knew something was wrong. When she'd broken down and told him about Snow's plans, he'd completely lost it. He'd broken several vases in his anger and disgust—over the broadcasts, over their tributes' deaths, over her own deceits and schemes.
"I thought you agreed to stop keeping things from me!" he'd yelled, tears shining in his eyes. He had locked himself in his room after that, refusing to speak to her, even on the train back to District 12. After a few days of avoiding her—an admirable feat, considering the amount of wedding planning Effie had subjected them to—he'd finally agreed to meet with her at his house in Victor's Village.
"You're right; it's better to do it this way," he'd said hollowly, tossing on the coffee table the box of condoms he'd procured from the Capitol. His face had been so broken in that moment, that she had kissed him then, their first untelevised kiss, desperate to erase that look from his eyes. Peeta's enthusiasm had been mostly lackluster at first, but his reluctance lasted only for as long as a 17-year-old male could stand when faced with the persistent kisses and touches of the girl he loved. He cracked under her neediness, returning her fervor with a ferocity of his own that left her trembling and breathless beneath him minutes later.
And then again. And again. And again, until she wondered why she had refused him this intimacy for so long.
Katniss had thought, hoped, that familiarizing herself with Peeta in this way prior to their wedding night would help with the first broadcast. And she guessed it did, to a point—there was no pain, but she was still too upset to get much pleasure from the act their first night on camera, and Peeta was too worried to finish, so they both had to fake it after nearly an hour just to end it. And they both cried in separate bathrooms afterward.
But so it went. Their bedroom proclivities became regular specials in the Capitol, and they were forced to travel a few times a month to perform for the cameras. No one in Twelve, not even their families, knew what the trips were for, thankfully, other than the vague designation of "official victor business.'' At first, she and Peeta were too uncomfortable touching each other after the cameras stopped rolling, too scared about blurring the lines between what was real and what wasn't, but eventually the ache for him, for the steadiness and warmth and the unexpected heat he brought, was too consuming to ignore. She needed him to ease her anxieties and fears in between takes, too, just as he needed her.
So President Snow won, like he always did. He had successfully stemmed a growing rebellion by forcing the Star-Crossed Lovers into a manufactured marriage and then turning them into porn stars. Why she thought it would stop there, she didn't know.
She first met Finnick Odair during the Quarter Quell. She was standing near the chariots with most of the District 12 team when he approached her.
"Girl on Fire, I have been dying to meet you," his low voice murmured in her ear, and she jerked away, fixing him with a withering glare at his proximity. He just smiled and stroked the horse's flank, presenting her with a sugar cube. "Sugar?"
Her lip curled in annoyance as she took him in. He was breathtaking on TV but heart-stopping in person. His outfit was more subdued than what he normally wore, when he was on the arm of whoever had his attention that week. "Those are for the horses," was all she could think to say in admonishment. His chest rumbled with laughter, but he just popped another sugar cube in his mouth.
"I don't hear them complaining," he said with a shrug, petting the horse's mane, then he looked around casually. "So, where's your fiancé?"
She wasn't entirely sure—she thought she remembered Haymitch dragging him off to talk with his friends from District 11, Chaff and Seeder. Katniss hated small talk, so she stayed with the horses, waiting for their tributes. Lot of good that did her now, though. "Busy doing mentoring things, I guess," she said, a little petulant that Finnick was bothering her.
Finnick grinned. "You mean he dared to let you out of his sight in the Capitol?" He tutted disapprovingly. "He's not as smart as I thought."
Katniss scowled, tugging on her braid absently. "I don't need him to watch over me."
He just cocked an eyebrow. "So feisty. Now I understand the namesake. It's too bad you're already a taken woman," he teased, his sea-green eyes shimmering like the foam on the ocean waves in District 4. Something about his statement, his tone, rankled her, and she tossed her head back defiantly.
"I'm not taken yet," she challenged, and the surprise and amusement that flashed across his face told her that her words had implied something she hadn't intended. He chuckled, and she blushed, not entirely sure of the punch line she was missing.
Peeta appeared then and made an attempt at engaging the District 4 mentor in pleasantries. They seemed to get along swimmingly, and Katniss distracted herself by petting the horse. Peeta was so frustratingly nice to everyone; it galled her how easily he made friends. Especially with someone like Finnick.
In hindsight, she wondered if that moment should have tipped her off, like an omen of even more nefarious Capitol misdeeds to come.
She wondered if Finnick had any clue then, as well.
They were back in the Capitol, holed up in a fancy hotel room to prepare for their scheduled taping, when the letter came.
The envelope was gold, a rose stamped into wax sealing it shut. Straight from Snow's desk. Katniss opened it gingerly as if it might bite her—or poison her, she could never quite trust him—wondering what depraved act the president would request of them this time. He didn't always leave them instructions; sometimes, they were allowed to have sex free of oversight or direction, though, truthfully, she'd almost rather be told what to do, how to act, instead of opening herself up, allowing viewers to see who they really were in those moments of realness.
Other times, his requests were so bizarre, she actually had to have Peeta explain them to her. She didn't know how he knew all these things—she didn't want to know, actually; the thought filled her with inexplicable rage—but sometimes even Peeta, normally so composed and unflappable, would blush and stammer trying to explain these positions and acts to her. And if neither of them knew, they had to bring in Capitol assistants to act it out.
Katniss read the letter. Then read it again. Peeta came up behind her. "What does he want us to do this time?" he asked, already sounding defeated.
"'A guest will be joining you this evening. I urge you to use your time wisely. Filming will take place tomorrow night,'" she read out loud, confusion permeating her voice. He took the letter from her to read it to himself silently.
"A guest?" he repeated, his lip curling. Their eyes locked together. "That can't mean...I mean, you don't think..."
Mirror images of dread and fear flashed across their faces. "No..." she whispered just when a sudden knock sounded at the door. They stared at each other in horror. Katniss felt her heart sink to her stomach; she watched Peeta's face pale, but his eyes hardened, and he swallowed thickly before moving to open the door. She wanted to stop him, to throw herself at the door and lock it. But she knew the consequences if they disobeyed. So she bit down hard on her lip, so hard she tasted blood, and stepped back as Peeta opened the door.
She and Peeta stared in disbelief at Finnick, who leaned against the door frame, an odd smile on his face. For once, Peeta was speechless, and Katniss found the words before he could. "What the fuck are you doing here?" she snapped, and Finnick mocked an expression of hurt.
"Didn't anybody teach you about manners, Miss Everdeen? Oh, pardon me, Mrs. Mellark," he said, winking at Peeta. Then he straightened, smoothing down the sleeves of his saffron-colored suit. "Aren't you going to let your guest in?"
Shooting her a wary glance, Peeta moved aside to let him into the room. When he shut the door, he faced Finnick and placed a hand on Katniss' arm, as if to calm her. It only half helped. "What is this about, Finnick? Why did Snow send you?" he asked, keeping tight control of his tone.
And the look Finnick gave them told them everything. But Katniss refused to believe it, not until he said it out loud.
"Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news," Finnick sighed. "But feedback on your...broadcasts has been less enthused as of late. Snow wants to—spice things up a bit."
Peeta's grip tightened on her arm, but she couldn't even look at him. Her gaze was trained on Finnick's face; she could feel the blood pumping through her veins, rushing to her face. Not in embarrassment but anger. "And why you?" she demanded.
He raised an eyebrow. "Would you prefer someone else?"
"I'd prefer no one!" she yelled, but he didn't even flinch.
"And when has Snow ever cared what you wanted?" he retorted, but his voice lacked any sting. In fact, he sounded tired. He continued before they could respond, "If you think you're up to discussing it with him, you can try to request someone else. But I'm the best the Capitol's got. I bring in the most money, the most viewers. And Snow knows a money-making opportunity when he sees one. You should be thanking me, really."
Katniss finally shot Peeta an incredulous look as Finnick turned away, unbuttoning his suit jacket to shrug it off. "Thank you? For what, exactly?" Peeta asked, hostility finally seeping into his words.
When Finnick faced them again, he actually looked...sad. Katniss felt a spark of bafflement and remorse. "I know this isn't going to be easy for you. I've been doing this for 10 years. But I still remember how it was in the beginning..." he trailed off, his eyes glazing slightly. But then he blinked. "Snow wanted to broadcast immediately, tonight. I negotiated a rehearsal, of sorts. I thought you two would appreciate the slight reprieve, so you can prepare yourselves for tomorrow."
Maybe she should have been grateful, but all she could feel was the angry hot turmoil of rage roiling in the pit of her stomach. She shook off Peeta's hand, stepping closer to Finnick. "Well, that's really fucking nice of you, isn't it?" she hissed. "Snow sends you to do his bidding, and you just come running. You think two backwoods kids from the coalmining district would just jump at the chance to—to—" She couldn't even say it, and that made her seethe even more. "Well, I don't give a fuck what you or Snow want! You think I'm just going to let you—no, fuck you, and you can tell Snow to—"
Finnick was on her so fast, she didn't even have time to gasp. His hands cupped her face in his hands, and he placed his mouth right next to her ear. She felt Peeta move closer, but either out of shock or intrigue, he didn't pull Finnick away.
"Hold your tongue," he hissed in her ear, just low enough that only she could hear. "Do you think this is a game? Do you realize that he is listening and watching, always?" Katniss swallowed her words, but she didn't push him away. "I know it might not seem like it, but I'm doing you two a favor." Here, he pulled back just enough to glance at Peeta, raising his voice slightly so they could both hear him. "Do you know how many of me there are? Snow won't hesitate to send someone else, someone who won't be nearly as gentle or as accommodating as I will be."
His words rattled her. Inhaling shakily, she pried his hands from her face and stepped back, looking at Peeta. His face was flushed, bright angry spots on his cheeks under his eyes, but there was a resignation in his blue eyes that she recognized. It was the same look he gave her when he finally agreed to have sex with her.
She dropped his gaze, suddenly overwhelmed with the whole situation. It wasn't fair. None of this was fair. She felt a pit of despair opening inside her.
Finnick sighed and looked at a watch on his wrist. "I hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty of ordering us some refreshments. I thought it might help us all relax." Just then there came another knock on the door. "Ah, right on time."
He opened the door to reveal an Avox with a food cart. She pushed it into the room, and after Finnick thanked her, she left. Katniss and Peeta eyed the silver platters and the ice bucket that held a bottle of champagne. Gesturing grandly, Finnick removed the lids with a flourish to reveal the food. "I hope you two are hungry," he said. The food smelled enticing, but her stomach was too tight with nerves to find it appetizing.
"Not really," Peeta muttered, staring at the cart. Finnick just smiled knowingly.
"Well, the food's more for me. But I got you something else." He removed the lid on a smaller platter. Three orange tablets and three blue tablets sat on the plate. That was it.
"What is that?" she asked suspiciously, and he met her curious glare.
"Some of them are Valium, to help you sleep later. The others are Delirium, more commonly known as D in these parts. They're amphetamines. They'll...help with later," he explained vaguely, but she was already shaking her head.
"No, I'm not taking any kind of drug—"
He cut her off with a hard stare. "It'll make it easier. Trust me." Katniss and Peeta just looked at each other helplessly while Finnick helped himself to the food, swirling strawberries and other chunks of fruit into chocolate and popping them into his mouth. He pulled the champagne bottle out of the ice bucket, wiping the condensation off with a napkin, and then he carefully popped the cork. Katniss flinched as the loud jarring sound bounced off the walls of their large room.
Handing them empty champagne flutes, Finnick filled their glasses to the brim. They didn't object. There was no point in objecting, anyway, was there? After he'd poured his own glass, Finnick held out the plate of pills to them. "Take the orange ones," he instructed. They eyed the plate warily, but Peeta took one first, and Katniss begrudgingly followed.
"So, this is what people really want to see—they want me to stand aside while another man pleasures my wife?" Peeta asked hollowly, staring at the tablet pinched between his fingers. His words startled her, and she stared at his face, horrified. But he wouldn't look at her, his mouth drawn tight into a thin line.
Finnick cocked an eyebrow. "No. Did you think you'd have to miss all the fun? Trust me—you'll get your turn," he said. Then he held the last orange pill up as if presenting it to them and quickly popped it into his mouth. He dry-swallowed it and held his flute up. "Cheers."
Katniss glanced between her pill and the champagne. Then she tapped her glass to Peeta's and Finnick's. "Cheers," she and Peeta both muttered, swallowing down the amphetamines with large gulps of champagne.
"So...how long before it kicks in?" she asked after a moment, staring at the bubbles creeping up the sides of her glass, popping on the surface. Her heart was already thrumming in her chest, but she knew it was only from anxiety and simmering rage. Finnick shrugged, biting into a profiterole.
"Half an hour, maybe," he said casually, finishing the pastry. Scooping up the plate of fruit and the champagne bottle, he crossed over to the couches and sat down. Katniss and Peeta stood around awkwardly, unsure of their next move. Tentatively, she reached for his hand, sliding her fingers around his palm, and he met her plaintive gaze. Without another word, he pulled her into a hug, resting his chin on top of her head. She didn't often seek physical affection, especially not in the presence of others. But they both needed the comfort now, needed to draw strength from each other for...whatever was about to happen.
"Katniss," Peeta said quietly, but his voice was urgent. "We don't...if you want to stop this, I will. We don't have to do anything you don't want to do. I'll do whatever you want to do. Just...tell me now."
She buried her face against his shoulder, her champagne perched precariously in her hand behind his back. No, she didn't want to do this. She didn't want to have sex with another man on camera; she didn't want to have sex with Peeta on camera either, but at least she wanted him. Finnick was attractive, but he was a Capitol creation. And she felt the creeping pity for his situation, she really did because now she truly understood it, and she couldn't deny how mesmerized she was by his crooked mouth, his sparkling eyes—but that was the extent of it, really. Peeta wasn't Capitol. Peeta was District 12, through and through; he was a reminder of home. He was home.
And back home were the handful of people she loved and needed to protect.
"You heard what he said, Peeta," she murmured, turning her face to press her nose against the warm skin of his neck. "There's no way we can refuse, anyway." He squeezed her tighter, the stem of his glass digging into her back, and he took a deep, tremulous breath.
"I just...I don't know if I'll be able to stand this," he whispered fiercely, and his free hand came up to palm her head, his mouth finding her ear. "I love you."
Her hand tightened in his shirt at his declaration. They didn't say that to each other, not even now that they were married—at least, not intentionally. Peeta gasped it out every now and then while fucking her on camera, but whether he was playing to the audience or desperately trying to reassure himself, or her, she wasn't sure. He never said it otherwise, not even when they had sex just for the two of them, not even when she was writhing beneath him and pleading for more, not even when she had him begging for his release with her mouth.
She knew he loved her, knew it as surely as she knew how to anticipate a deer's moves before she shot it. But she didn't know if she liked hearing it. It complicated their arrangement.
Katniss just nodded against his shoulder, not sure what to say, the sudden rush of emotions choking her. Her throat was constricting, and she finally pulled away from him to swig her champagne. He did the same, watching her intently, and when she couldn't bear the weight of his gaze on her anymore, she moved toward the couches, sitting on a loveseat opposite Finnick. Peeta followed her and settled in beside her; she could sense the tightness in his muscles.
Finnick eyed them in amusement, sucking some fruit juice off his fingers. "Really, now, you two are acting like I'm some hideously deformed mutt. You could do a lot worse than me, you know," he quipped as he poured himself another glass of champagne.
Katniss scowled, but Peeta spoke before she could. "That's not the point, and you know it. Stop being deliberately obtuse—we don't appreciate being patronized."
The older victor shrugged. "We all have our ways of coping, you'll realize soon enough."
"How do you do it?" Katniss blurted suddenly, observing his face. He didn't seem to give anything away—he was like Peeta in that regard; he was hard to read unless he wanted to be read. Peeta could control his emotions so much better than she could. She often chose positions or strategically buried her face in the pillow or his neck to help conceal her face when they were performing, in case any flicker of what she truly felt were to betray her to the cameras. "I mean...how do you do—this?"
His green eyes fixed on her so acutely, she squirmed. "We all have someone we love, don't we? And we do what we have to in order to protect them." He sipped his beverage then, reclining on the couch as he continued to pop pieces of fruit into his mouth.
Katniss didn't know if she could stand much more of this, the waiting. When were the amphetamines going to kick in? She had no idea what to expect, but suddenly she was immensely grateful Finnick had brought them. Taking a generous gulp of her champagne, she placed her hand on Peeta's thigh to steady herself with just the touch of him, his nearness. He slid his hand over hers, his large palm nearly dwarfing her tiny one. He tipped back his own champagne.
"So, I assume they have you on birth control, correct?" Finnick asked out of nowhere, and she stiffened, her face flushing immediately at the implication. That was the only good thing about the whole situation—Snow was adamant children were out of the question, at least for a few years, so he could milk their sex lives as long as possible. A pregnant Katniss would put a damper on their appeal to the Capitol viewers, he'd said. She and Peeta were both immensely relieved.
"Yes," she squeaked, angered by her own embarrassment. Peeta's hand tightened on hers. Finnick nodded.
"And they've given you shots for diseases?" Viewers hated condoms; it ruined the spontaneity and the romance of the sex, they complained.
"Yes," Peeta answered tightly. "We didn't have anything, anyway."
Finnick hummed, sitting back up and moving the plate of fruit off his lap to rest it on the couch cushion. "I'm clean, as well. Snow can't risk any harm coming to his most lucrative commodities, now, can he?" he asked rhetorically.
Katniss didn't know if she cared. A niggling voice in the back of her mind, somewhere deep inside her, prayed she would contract something, something lethal, and then maybe she could escape all this—because she knew there was no way she was getting out of this alive.
But no, even that was a fruitless fantasy because if she were to die, who would protect Peeta? They only had each other in this whole fucking mess. She couldn't desert him now. Or ever.
She knocked back the rest of her champagne. She could feel the heat of his flesh under her hand, the tautness of his muscles, even through the material of his slacks. Idly, she began to rub his thigh, only in small, barely perceptible circles, but she knew he felt it; his hand spasmed over top of hers, but he didn't stop her.
Katniss licked her lips, catching the last bitter drops of the alcohol, and stared at the bottom of her empty glass. She was starting to feel a little flushed, and she squeezed his thigh, moving her hand closer to his groin. She risked a glance at him, and his blue eyes reflected the question she was asking herself: What are you doing?
She wasn't sure, but she could feel a mild throbbing between her thighs just from touching him. Maybe this was why Finnick had suggested the pills.
She needed more alcohol. "Could you pour me another glass, Finnick?" she asked politely, her voice strained, and he complied with a smile, pushing off the couch and closing the distance between them. He kneeled in front of her and carefully filled her cup, silently regarding her hand on Peeta's thigh. Then he locked eyes with her.
"Feeling it now?" he asked softly, almost tenderly, and she couldn't suppress the creasing of her brow at his gentle tone. She couldn't break his gaze either.
"I think so," she whispered on an exhale, and he gingerly pried the glass flute from her hand and sat it on the ground. When his hands settled on her bare knees, her breath hitched in her throat. Finnick eyed her curiously, his fingers dancing near the hemline of her dress. She wondered just how wide her eyes were.
"I'm going to kiss you now, Katniss," he said but not brazenly—it was so matter of fact, she couldn't muster the outrage to object. She thought she heard Peeta's breath stutter in his chest, but then Finnick's lips were on hers, and she couldn't think about anything else.
It was warm, soft—really, no different from Peeta's kisses, other than the fact that she knew it was Finnick. And she wanted to be disgusted, she really did, but...he brushed his thumbs along her thighs, just under her dress, the sensation reverberating in the very core of her. When he flicked his tongue at the seam of her mouth, she found her lips parting instinctively, her tongue darting out to catch the taste he left behind.
But then she was being pulled away, Peeta's hand pushing on her shoulder and shoving on Finnick's to forcefully break the kiss. "Okay, no, no fucking way, I can't fucking do this—"
And then the strangest thing happened: Finnick was kissing Peeta, one hand lingering on her leg still, but the other grabbing a handful of golden curls to hold Peeta's head in place as his mouth slanted over his. Peeta was shocked into submission, his eyes round and locked on Katniss' face; she knew her mouth was hanging open as she watched.
She observed Finnick's jaw flex as he opened his mouth, presumably slipping his tongue into Peeta's mouth. She gasped in pain when Peeta's hand fisted on her shoulder, tugging at the loose locks of her hair his fingers had curled around; he made some sort of squawk of protest in the back of his throat, his entire face flushing. His whole body was rigid, but he didn't push Finnick away.
In fact, his grip loosened on her shoulder, and he pulled it away—but his hand froze uncertainly in the air, almost as if he meant to touch Finnick but changed his mind. Now, it just hovered awkwardly between her and Finnick, his gaze lingering on her face. Although his face was still red, he looked less surprised, less perturbed, and she noticed the diminutive movements of his lips and jaw bone that told her he was kissing him back.
And it made her ache in such a familiar way.
"Oh," she breathed. But then the kiss was over, Finnick pulling away. Dumbfounded and flustered, Peeta finally looked at him; his lips were moist from the other victor's saliva. Some sort of understanding seemed to pass between them in that moment, and Peeta swallowed, finally giving a slight nod of his head.
Finnick turned back toward her, and she followed his movements. His hands slid farther up her thighs, pushing her dress up slightly, and he leaned toward her. There was no hesitation this time, and she closed her eyes as soon as his lips touched hers. He immediately plied her mouth open, brushing his tongue against hers. He tasted sweet and sugary but tart from the alcohol. It wasn't bad. At all. She was too scared to move her hands, unsure if she should touch him (what was Peeta thinking?), but he pulled her closer, his hand sliding into her hair as his tongue gently massaged hers.
He was practiced, she could tell. He moved his tongue so skillfully, as if he'd done this thousands of times—the thought was almost off-putting, but she was too entranced by the way the skin on her thighs tingled under the pads of his fingers. Her heart was racing, and her palms were starting to feel clammy. She suddenly missed the feel and weight of Peeta's hand in hers, and she reached out for him blindly; he grasped it instantly, squeezing tightly.
When Finnick withdrew his mouth, she gasped for air like she hadn't breathed for days. He moved his mouth down to her neck, suckling the skin near her ear. Her head fell back, her mouth falling open; the surprised, squeaking moan she made embarrassed her, and her eyes darted to Peeta's face. There were those angry red spots on his cheeks again, and his eyes looked a little glassy—but from what? Jealousy? Desire? D? He was hard to read at the moment, probably because he didn't want to be read. It bothered her, and she dug her fingers into his palm, but then Finnick was tonguing her clavicle, and her free hand threaded through his perfectly styled hair to urge him on. His hair was soft under her fingers but stiff from product.
His breath was warm and wet on the hollow of her throat, skittering down the exposed valley of her cleavage. His lips dipped lower to the swells of her breasts, his hands grazing just over her ribcage. When his tongue licked the delicate skin between her breasts, she gasped and clenched her thighs together.
Was it wrong to be so aroused right now? Her head felt fuzzy, and she tugged on Peeta, wanting him closer to anchor her. But when he moved toward her, he cupped her cheek and turned her face to his, capturing her lips in a heated kiss. His tongue touched every part of her mouth it could reach. The kiss was needy, demanding, like he was trying to claim her.
She tried to return it just as earnestly, but Finnick's hands were on her breasts then, and she faltered in surprise; Peeta swallowed her moan, sucking on her tongue fiercely, while Finnick massaged her breasts, his thumbs pressing against her pebbled nipples through her bra. This was too much; there were too many mouths, too many hands on her—she didn't know what to do.
When she felt Finnick slide her dress up farther, she froze, her mouth going slack against Peeta's. He sensed her uncertainty and pulled back; they both watched with wide eyes as Finnick pushed her dress up to her hips, dipping his face toward her groin.
But she clamped her legs together to refuse him, her heart lurching into her throat. "No, I-I can't," she stammered, demurely tugging her dress down over her crotch. The thought of Finnick doing something so intimate to her...no, she wasn't ready for that. It had been odd enough just getting used to Peeta going down on her.
Finnick sat back, his eyebrows arched in question. Then he glanced at Peeta, and her eyes followed his. His lips were red and swollen from kissing her, but his eyes were so intensely blue, his pupils so large, as if challenging the other victor. Finnick smiled.
"Would you like to do the honors then?" he asked wryly, standing up to allow Peeta to situate himself before her. Mystified, she watched him settle between her legs on the floor, his face grimacing as he shifted his weight onto his prosthetic. Her thighs parted with little encouragement from him, and when his hands gripped her thighs, he sought out her gaze.
"Is this okay?" he asked softly. After a beat, she nodded slowly, her fingers curling into the cushion under her, and she inhaled shakily as his fingers found the waistband of her panties, carefully tugging them down. Katniss lifted her hips, fighting the urge to shield herself from their eyes once he had her bare. The Capitol style was hairless, at least for women, so she was completely smooth between her thighs. She hated it, hated feeling so exposed and vulnerable.
But she and Peeta were so attuned to each other now; she found herself opening to him as he scooted her hips to the edge of the couch, and she leaned back slightly, draping her legs over his broad shoulders. She looked shyly at Finnick; he smiled at her, but it wasn't lecherous or threatening, and he began to undress, pulling his shirttails out of his pants and undoing his buttons.
When Peeta's warm breath fanned over her center, her stomach tightened in want and anticipation. His tongue flicked out, tracing the seams of her increasingly wet folds, up to her clit, and she gasped, her hands finding purchase in his hair to spur him forward. And he didn't stop, his tongue circling the cleft at the apex of her thighs before slithering down to dip into her slit, over and over, drawing the moisture out of her. Katniss shuddered, her back arching off the couch; Peeta was insistent, his hot mouth moving over her without pause. He was always good at this, but tonight his tongue was more persistent, more forceful. You're mine, his lips seemed to spell out against her folds, and she found herself nodding frantically, whimpering his name like a prayer, Peeta, Peeta, Peeta, Peeta. He took her clit between his lips again and sucked greedily. The pleasure was sharp, painful, and she cried out, bucking against his face, her thighs quivering as she came. Peeta didn't stop his assault on her until she crested the wave again, smaller this time, but her whole body tightened a second time nonetheless, her heart thundering in her ears.
Panting, she pushed on his face slightly so he would stop, her limbs puddling around him as he pulled her legs off his shoulders. His blue eyes held hers, his lips glistening—he licked them, tasting her again—and then he stood up. The front of his slacks tented from his erection, and she so badly wanted to ease him back between her thighs so she could ride him, but she remembered Finnick suddenly. Embarrassed, she pulled her dress down to cover herself, glancing at him. He was shirtless now, his bronze skin tight over his sculpted torso. He was still smiling at them, his own arousal evident.
"Well, that was certainly something," he mused, stepping closer. He touched Peeta's shoulder, causing the younger man to turn toward him. Finnick arched an eyebrow in question, then he leaned his head down and kissed him again. Peeta was more prepared this time, but he was still stiff, closing his eyes. He eventually placed a shaky hand on Finnick's shoulder, tentatively returning the kiss. Katniss watched in amazement—she had never seen two men kiss before tonight, not in person, anyway. Homosexual relations were actively discouraged in the districts, it seemed, but sexuality was a free-for-all in the Capitol, as evidenced by the varied television broadcasts. She didn't expect it to turn her on so much. She saw Finnick's tongue dart out to lick the wetness—her wetness—from Peeta's lips and chin, and she felt a pulsing in her core all over again. Her hands dipped farther between her legs, tickling the sensitive flesh of her inner thighs, but they stilled there as she continued to watch her husband kiss the District 4 mentor.
Finnick was undressing Peeta now, methodically unbuttoning his dress shirt and pushing it off his shoulders; Katniss was surprised Peeta was letting him. Her husband didn't object, awkwardly shrugging his shirt off his arms while Finnick unbuckled Peeta's pants and slid the belt from the loops. He let it clatter to the floor and, glancing at the blonde's face, he started to unfasten the pants. "You okay?" he asked quietly. Peeta choked out an affirmative when the other man's hands brushed over his erection as he slid the zipper down, letting the pants flutter to the floor.
They kissed again, a little more eagerly than before as Peeta acclimated himself to the idea of kissing another man. She watched the way Finnick's hands mapped the expanse of Peeta's shoulders and back as he pulled him closer, and she ached to be touched herself. Her nimble fingers grazed her swollen clit, and she gasped at the contact, still feeling sensitive from her first orgasms. Finnick glanced up at her then and broke away from Peeta with a grin.
"I think your wife is ready to play again," he said, turning Peeta's face to look at her, too. Biting her lip coyly, she quickly withdrew her hand from between her legs. Her face burned—from shame, desire, she wasn't sure—but Finnick moved around Peeta to pull her to her feet. She found it difficult to look him in the eye, but he tipped her chin up. "I'm going to touch you again, okay?"
Unbidden, her eyes darted to Peeta. He was staring at her so lustfully, she actually trembled. She found herself nodding her consent to Finnick, who reached behind her then to unzip her dress and release the tension of the satin material. Sliding it down her torso, he pushed the dress over her hips and let it pool at her feet. She felt silly just standing there in her bra, but he made quick work of that, too.
And then his hands were on her naked flesh, plying her nipples between his fingers, cupping the weight of her breasts in his palms. He kissed her, and she welcomed his tongue more willingly, her moans catching in her throat. She startled when she felt hands on her back but relaxed when she realized it was Peeta, his hardness pressing against her ass through his boxer-briefs, and she pushed back against him, one hand finding his hip while the other clasped onto Finnick's neck. Peeta swept her hair over her shoulder, then his lips fluttered over the nape of her neck, and he sucked and nipped at her flesh.
She jerked between their bodies when Finnick's hand unexpectedly dipped between her thighs, grazing through her folds. He broke the kiss, breathing heavily against her mouth, and she stared up at him wide-eyed. "As much as I'd really love to pleasure you right now," he said, punctuating his point by pushing two fingers inside her and eliciting a rasping moan from her. "I think we should do a little something for Peeta right now, don't you?"
"Yes," she gasped, pressing her ass harder against her husband's erection, and he thrust against her, wrapping an arm around her waist and digging his teeth into her shoulder.
Finnick withdrew his hand from between her thighs and nodded over them at the bed. Katniss twisted around, desperate for Peeta's mouth on hers. He met her half way, their lips and tongues clashing. Her mind was racing; she couldn't settle on one thought other than how good his hands felt on her face, in her hair, on her breasts. She didn't even realize Finnick was steering them to the bed until the back of Peeta's legs hit the mattress and he collapsed on it, his prosthetic giving out. She went to crawl on top of him, but Finnick stopped her.
"Do you mind?" he asked, gesturing to Peeta. She had no idea what he was asking, but she found herself agreeing anyway.
Smirking, he directed her onto the bed. "Just sit behind him and hold onto him, okay?" She scrambled behind Peeta, catching his anxious expression. His head swiveled between the two of them, his nostrils flaring when he realized Finnick was getting down on his knees before him.
"What are you...oh, God..." Katniss felt him trembling, so she pressed against him tighter; his heart was beating so hard, she could feel it through his back. She just watched in amazement as Finnick inched Peeta's underwear down his hips. She had to help lift him up off the mattress because he was too stunned to assist, and then his boxer-briefs were on the floor, his cock straining upward, hard and swollen and glistening.
Finnick rested his hands on Peeta's thighs, and Peeta gripped Katniss' knee painfully. "Finnick—I don't—I don't know," he stammered, his breaths coming out heavy. Finnick met his troubled eyes, understanding in his own.
"It's no different from a woman, I promise," he murmured reassuringly, and he looked at Katniss for encouragement. She licked her dry lips, wondering why she didn't stop this, wondering why she was so turned on.
Pressing her mouth to his ear, she snaked an arm around Peeta's stomach and chest to hold him close, to comfort him. "It's okay, Peeta," she whispered, licking the shell of his ear before sucking the lobe between her lips. His breath caught in his throat, but he didn't say anything more.
With one last glance for reassurance, Finnick lowered his face to Peeta's cock, taking him into his mouth. Peeta's body spasmed, a whimper falling past his lips, and Katniss pressed against him tighter, dropping her mouth to his neck, then to his shoulder, laving his hot skin with her tongue. She kept her eyes open though, watching Finnick wrap a hand around the base of Peeta's cock to pump it while his tongue worked the rest of the shaft.
Peeta's head fell back against her shoulder, and after a few more strokes of Finnick's hand and tongue, Peeta's hips begin to lift off the bed, rising to meet Finnick's mouth. She could feel his chest rumbling under her hand as she caressed him, the moans starting low in his stomach until he was whimpering and grunting toward the ceiling. The sounds ricocheted deep inside her, making her clit throb, and she scraped her teeth over his neck, kissing and sucking on his warm, slick flesh. She was so wet; she so badly wanted relief for herself, but she was too enthralled by this to do anything about herself at the moment.
Peeta finally released her knees, fisting his hands in Finnick's hair as he thrust more vigorously. "Fi—ahh, fuck...Katniss," he gasped, pleadingly, and her heart tightened dangerously. She brought her mouth to his ear again, nuzzling the side of his face.
"You're mine," she murmured. "You're mine." Over and over again. Peeta whimpered at her words.
"Yes, I—yes, yes," he rasped, his eyes squeezed shut. The wet sounds of Finnick's mouth on his cock made her dizzy with need, and her breathing quickened alongside Peeta's.
But Finnick stopped then, his lips popping off the swollen head of his cock, and Peeta whined in frustration. His head shot up to stare at Finnick, but the other victor was looking at Katniss. "Lay him down on the bed and finish him off," he directed, standing up to unbutton his pants.
With Peeta's help, she pulled him farther onto the bed and laid him on his back, then she crawled between his legs. She eagerly grasped his cock in her small hand, already leaning down to take him into her mouth, but then she felt Finnick grab her hips and pull them back to the edge of the mattress. She looked over her shoulder at him, her eyes widening when she realized he was fully naked now, his cock in hand and positioned at her entrance.
"I'm going to fuck you while you go down on him—is that okay?" he asked, pressing the head of his cock to her folds. She mewled, suddenly aching for him to do it, to fill her up and pound her, but she looked back at Peeta. His face was flushed, his eyes shiny, as he stared at them, but he nodded wildly, dropping his head back to the mattress.
"Do it," he breathed, knitting his fingers through her hair and urging her mouth downward. She smoothed her tongue over his head first before sliding his cock into her mouth. Finnick pushed into her then, stretching her slowly, and she moaned deeply, the sound muffled by Peeta's dick. He moaned then, too, thrusting shallowly into her mouth while her hand pumped the rest of his length she couldn't reach. But it was kind of hard to maintain a concentrated effort on bobbing her mouth over him with Finnick driving into her from behind; she kept jerking forward whenever his hips collided with hers, and she was afraid her teeth were going to catch on the tender ridge of his head. So she just kept her mouth still, sucking her cheeks in and letting Peeta thrust into her mouth of his own volition.
Her moans were hushed around his cock, a steady vibration as Finnick pushed in and out of her. She practically squealed when he leaned over her, his hand slipping between her thighs to rub her clit. Her hand tightened around Peeta's cock even harder, and he groaned loudly, the movement of his hips getting more frenzied. She was glad he was taking control because she was useless now that Finnick was stroking her clit, nudging her closer and closer to the edge—
And then she was falling, pleasure coiling and snapping between her thighs and spreading through her body like hot liquid. She moaned, her walls pulsing around Finnick's cock, and he grunted, thrusting into her harder, faster.
She was unprepared for Peeta's orgasm, and he gasped, jerking her mouth down on his cock as his hips strained against her face. His semen hit the roof of her mouth, and her throat closed reflexively, most of his come spurting out between her lips and seeping down his cock. She tried to lap at it, but she had to pull away to gasp for air, shuddering from the ripples of her orgasm, still trying to brace herself against Peeta as Finnick continued driving into her.
After a few more thrusts, Finnick grunted and pulled out quickly, grabbing his cock and resting it on her ass. She felt the hot streams of his semen shoot across her back, his cock pulsating against her, and she dropped her head to rest it against Peeta's pelvis. His cock was softening now but still thrumming slightly.
Everything was silent for a moment, aside from their labored panting, and then Finnick chuckled. "Ah, sorry about that," he apologized, swiping a hand through the semen on her back. "Old habits die hard, I guess. Let me get a washcloth." He disappeared into the bathroom.
Katniss suddenly felt exhausted and hazy. Crawling up his body, she collapsed on top of Peeta. Her limbs felt useless and limp, quivering slightly from the strain of holding herself up. She placed her ear to his chest, listening to his erratic heartbeat. A moment later, he seemed to return to himself, and he wrapped his arms around her.
"Katniss," he mumbled, but he didn't say anything else. She thought maybe he just wanted to say her name.
"Peeta," she returned, her eyes fluttering closed. Finnick returned then, gently wiping her back off with a cool, damp rag. Then he was at their side, offering them water and two blue pills.
"To help you sleep now," he intoned, and she shakily sat up to down the proffered items. Peeta weakly did the same before dropping back to the bed and closing his eyes. She lay down on him again, watching as Finnick popped the last pill and sipped some water. He disappeared out of her line of sight then, and she closed her eyes, trying to match the fast pace of her heartbeat to Peeta's. Thu-thump thu-thump thu-thump. His skin felt warm and soothing, but the sheen of sweat that coated it was quickly cooling against her body.
She wasn't sure how long they lay like that, listening to each other breathe, listening to the sounds of Finnick moving around the room. She felt herself slipping away after awhile; she was dimly aware of the bed shifting under Finnick's weight, as if he were lying down beside them, but then she was gone, falling under the pull of sleep and Valium.
Katniss woke hours later, startled awake—by what, she wasn't sure. She blinked against the grit in her eyes, suddenly aware of how dry her mouth was. She pushed her tongue around, trying to work up some saliva, but it felt like there were cotton balls in there. Confused, she lifted her head from Peeta's chest, trying to push herself into a sitting position.
Finnick was in front of her suddenly, holding out a fresh glass of water. He was fully dressed again, and he smiled at her bewilderment. "Here," he offered, and she carefully took it, trying not to spill it on Peeta as she gulped it down. "Feeling okay?"
She was suddenly aware of how naked she and Peeta were, how sticky and stiff their skin and bones were; embarrassment rushed through her as she remembered what they'd done earlier that night. "I guess," she muttered quietly, dropping her eyes to the mattress. She took another gulp of water to hide her blush.
Finnick just nodded. "It's weird, I know." He looked sympathetic. "Unfortunately, this is just the beginning."
She lifted her gaze to him again, mildly perplexed. "What do you mean?"
He sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Neither Snow nor the viewers will be satisfied with just this. Maybe for a little while, but then they'll quickly grow bored, even with me. So Snow will bring in someone else, maybe another victor, maybe another celebrity, maybe many of them at once—who knows?" Her heart dropped at his words, but not even she was prepared for what he said next, "And then even that will get old. And eventually, he'll start selling you two behind the cameras, too. To anyone and everyone who's willing to pay for a night with the Star-Crossed Lovers."
The glass nearly slipped from her hand, and he took it from her. Her mind was clicking slowly, still fuzzy from the drugs and sleep, but as his words sunk in, so did the horror. Haymitch's words came back to her then, as if they had been a harbinger of this moment to come. "He...no..."
Finnick just looked at her solemnly, the defeat in his eyes making something inside her die. Sighing softly, he sat the water down on the nightstand and, after studying her for a silent moment, he pressed a kiss to her forehead. "I'm truly sorry," he murmured. Then he glanced down at Peeta's slumbering form before meeting her gaze again, something like bitter cynicism in his eyes. "I'll be back later. Make sure you two get a lot of rest—the audience will want us fresh-faced and energized."
And with that, he breezed out of the room, quietly shutting the door behind him.
Katniss didn't even realize she was trembling until Peeta's sleep-thick voice roused her from her thoughts. "You okay?" he slurred, concern etched on his face as he squinted at her, his hands stroking her arms.
No. She was not okay. She was never going to be okay again. And neither was he. Her heart was in her throat, and she tried to swallow it down. Shaking her head, she smoothed his hair back from his forehead shakily, not sure if she was doing it for his sake or her own. "Go back to sleep," she whispered, resting her head on his chest again. He just sighed, folding her in his arms.
Later. She would tell him later. She just wanted to give him a few more hours of blissful ignorance, a momentary reprieve before she broke him with the horror that awaited them.
And then they would face it. Together. Like they always did.