“You love me. Real or not real?"
I tell him, "Real.”
“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”
“Well, don't expect us to be too impressed. We just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear.”
“You're still trying to protect me. Real or not real," he whispers.
"Real," I answer. "Because that's what you and I do, protect each other.”
“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.”
“Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!”
“Finnick?" I say, "Maybe some pants?"
He looks down at his legs as if noticing his outfit for the first time. Then he whips off his hospital gown leaving him in just his underwear. "Why? Do you find this" -- he strikes a ridiculously provocative pose -- "distracting?"
I laugh. Boggs looks embarrassed and Finnick looks more like the guy I met at the Quarter Quell”
“I must have loved you a lot.”
“You're a painter. You're a baker. You like to sleep with the windows open. You never take sugar in your tea. And you always double-knot your shoelaces.”
“Some walks you have to take alone.”
“There are much worse games to play.”
“I clench his hands to the point of pain. "Stay with me."
His pupils contract to pinpoints, dialate again rapidly, and then return to something resembling normalcy. "Always," he murmurs.”
“Ally." Peeta says the words slowly, tasting it. "Friend. Lover. Victor. Enemy. Fiancee. Target. Mutt. Neighbor. Hunter. Tribute. Ally. I'll add it to the list of words I use to try to figure you out. The problem is, I can't tell what's real anymore, and what's made up.”
“Sometimes when I'm alone, I take the pearl from where it lives in my pocket and try to remember the boy with the bread, the strong arms that warded off nightmares on the train, the kisses in the arena.”
“Are you, are you coming to the tree?
Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me.
Strange things did happen here.
No stranger would let it be if we met up
At midnight in the hanging tree.”
“Technically, I am unarmed. But no one should ever underestimate the harm that fingernails can do. Especially if the target is unprepared.”
“I drag myself out of nightmares each morning and find there's no relief in waking.”
“I think....you still have no idea. The effect you can have.”
“Closing my eyes doesn't help. Fire burns brighter in the darkness.”
“That what I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.”
“They'll either want to kill you, kiss you, or be you.”
“I raise my left arm and twist my neck down to rip off the pill on my sleeve. Instead my teeth sink into flesh. I yank my head back in confusion to find myself looking into Peeta’s eyes, only now they hold my gaze. Blood runs from the teeth marks on the hand he clamped over my nightlock.
“Let me go!” I snarl at him, trying to wrest my arm from his grasp.
“I can’t,” he says.”
“Katniss. I remember about the bread.”
“At a few minutes before four, Peeta turns to me again. "Your favorite colour . . . it's green?"
"That's right." Then I think of something to add. "And yours is orange."
"Orange?" He seems unconvinced.
"Not bright orange. But soft. Like the sunset," I say. "At least, that's what you told me once."
"Oh." He closes his eyes briefly, maybe trying to conjure up that sunset, then nods his head. "Thank you."
But more words tumble out. "You're a painter. You're a baker. You like to sleep with the windows open. You never take sugar in your tea. And you always double-knot your shoelaces."
Then I dive into my tent before I do something stupid like cry.”
“But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We're fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.”
“I knew you'd kiss me."
"How?" I say. Because I didn't know myself.
"Because I am in pain," He say's. "That's the only way I get your attention.”
“There's a chance that the old Peeta, the one who loves you, is still inside. Trying to get back to you. Don't give up on him.”
“Oh, Peeta, Don't make me sorry I restarted your heart.”
“What about Gale?"
"He's not a bad kisser either," I say shortly.
"And it was okay with both of us? You kissing the other?" He asks.
"No. It wasn't okay with either of you. But I wasn't asking your permission," I tell him.
Peeta laughs again, coldly, dismissively. "Well, you're a piece of work, aren't you?”
“The gods listen, Rain. Put a thought out there often enough, and they'll think it's what you want.”
“I believe the world of the spirit is in general greatly neglected and not at all served by the practice of faith as we know it, because religion isn't individual enough.”
“ You don't have to hide your natural inclination to boss me around. I want you to feel comfortable with me, Edwart. To the point of domination."
"Okay, okay." He took a deep breath and pointed at me. "You," he said stiffly, the words flowing straight from some primordial, bossy wordbank. "Come to the place where you want to go, which, hopefully, is my car, where I will be, God willing.”
“You know, sometimes when you're too close to someone, it's hard to see who they really are.”
“I closed my eyes. His fingers found mine. I buried my face on his chest, my vision hazy. "I won't remember you."
"You will," he whispered into my hair. "Someday. I'll find you.”
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