real_or_notreal: (He's Doing It For Her)
[personal profile] real_or_notreal
The second month started with a large brown box.

So large it was being carried by two of the train workers, and they were being directed by a third, and followed by a fourth with several smaller brown parcels, at the point Peeta opened his front door and scrambled (nearly falling) to get out of their way.






He'd had to stop telling them it couldn't be his once he'd gotten the largest one open. But that had less to do with being incorrect and more to do with frustration.

He had ordered a fish tank.

But not one that nearly touched each hallway wall.

Nor any of the castles or plants or multi-colored gemstones.




He'd had to contain the groan and want to crush the paper in his hand when he finally found the receipt reading:

It is our honor to serve the Victors of District 12!
I hope you don't mind that we've thrown in some extras.

Five days later the last box arrived (a small pink half-cat, half-woman covered in shiny blinking sequins whose arm waved and made a whirring noise) his living room was covered in everything he could never want or conceive of anyone else who could use it. Each with notes about what kind of fish liked what, that 'they' should enjoy their new hobby and contact them with any questions.

Everything was to 'Them,' of course. The universally worshiped Star Crossed Lovers, who would never have separated so much they didn't even talk. No, the universe carried on its love affair with their obvious destiny of being reunited in love and life and health, forever, even in the god forsaken poorest, furthest district.

Overcoming all adversity together still.

He read each new one out loud to himself.
Or Tempest, who was in the tea pot still.

Scoffing and avoiding all the gifts.



Peeta was a week into the second month when he knew he might never sleep through a full night again. Found his annoyance with discovering Haymitch unconscious in new places on every visit fading fast. Almost wanted to drown himself the same way if it might catch him another hour of sleep a day.

Even if he grew very tired, and easily angry, at the number of times he fell down, trying to jump out of the reach of Haymitch swinging a knife at him when the man surged back into awareness, just as drunk and biting as ever.



It's always the falling he's angrier about.



He wonders about the knife, but never asks.


There's no one to hurt with it, no one he has in decades or they'd have heard of it. Wouldn't they? There are only three people who come into this house aside from him. Peeta, and the Everdeen girls. He's aware Katniss comes, because Haymitch delights in pointing out she's been there.

Peeta thankfully has missed her each of these times.

But he bumps into Prim almost as often as he came over.


Mrs. Everdeen was bound and determined to keep sending things to Haymitch's house -- good food and clean linens and hang-over cures -- even if she'd never attempted the house or the man after having to deal with him during the Homecoming week.

Reporters and tv cameras and Haymitch being himself.

No one held it against her. She was Mrs. Everdeen.
Everyone knew she'd gotten lost after her husband died.
What she didn't have, her daughters made up in spades.

Katniss was . . . . well, Katniss Everdeen. Victor of the 74th Games.

And while Prim had no problem becoming terrified of Haymitch's drunken scenes.
It was that she still came back, trembling, with towels or medicines, which Peeta remembered.



He thinks he should have more troubles adjusting to a mystical bar at the end of time and space.
Especially after the brutal surrealism of his universe since being Reaped, since becoming a Victor.


But the only thing that really clings when he comes home, is the weather. Snowy days and winter holidays inside Milliways are met with balmy, blistering summer heat when he returns to District 12.

He knows Katniss still hasn't seen Rue when the "Holiday Dinner" passes without a mention of her. He's not surprised. He's pretty certain Rue isn't either. Surviving and dying are both horrible inevitabilities for the Hunger Games. And he's seen too much of Haymitch and Rue lately to know which is worse.



After the dinner, one thing is certain. It's harder to walk back through his door each time.
There is nothing waiting for him in this world. An empty house. And a small green roll-fish.

And every week punctuates Katniss’s ”Don’t know” with another Sunday.




Peeta wakes up from the horror of dying.
It apparently never got old or tired inside his mind.
And the images are just as vivid while he lays paralyzed.

Katniss screaming and the growl of the mongrel dogs beneath the golden Cornucopia, blacking out from the pressure of Cato's headlock squeezing his wind pipe – but only after watching Katniss shoved down toward the ravenous, hungry human-eyed mutts below them.

When he finally can (breathe, move) he makes his way down stairs, in the midnight pitch dark, to the kitchen. Angry and confused and wired enough that it’s not until he’s been staring at the pieces on the floor for almost a minute that he realizes he dropped a mixing bowl because he was out of eggs. Because it all felt so fucking pointless.

Without eggs. Without sleep. Without Katniss.

He left the pieces there, turning away.





Only to stop. Shoulders dropping. Staring.

The canvas and the easel and all the tubes of paint still there on the floor. On the furthest corner of the kitchen floor from the oven. So they couldn't get in his way. So he wasn't lying entirely when he told Portia that he wasn't ignoring 'his hobby.'

White. So white it's an affront. Stretched so tight. He pressed his fingers into it. He knows the feeling of being pressed so hard, the edges groan, crying out, warning. He's on his knees (unbalanced because of the mechanical one) without realizing really how he got there. Without choice or idea. Needing to break.

And it's there, his fingers white like the canvas with the pressure of driving the center of the canvas so hard it's straining to break, too, that Lily's words ripple back through the mire of everything else screaming inside his skin and head.







It's the better part of minute before he looks down again. To the right, at the silver and white tube so close to the edge of the canvas block. The single line gray across the top, telling him it's color. Gray the color of the sky before it rains. Gray the color of snow mixed with coal. Gray the coor of ash and icing. Gray the color of...


With a small, trembling suck in of air, he moved his hand finally.

Releasing the white canvas and picking up the tube.







He starts; with the only subject he ever could have.
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Peeta Mellark | Victor of the 74th Hunger Games

August 2015

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