Title: Present (Part One)
Oneshot Number: Six (6/10)
Premise: Katniss and Peeta fell in love in the future. How about in modern times?
Why I liked it: C'mon! Present Katniss and Peeta are fun to write! What's not to like? :)
This oneshot is dedicated to ily26. Thanks for this awesome idea, and thanks for reading You Love Me. I appreciate your support!
P.S. A part two will follow. Eventually.
Disclaimer: The Hunger Games does not belong to me. Which I am very sad about. (as you can imagine...)
©HomeschoolGirl 2012, or at least this actual post is. The characters, not so much. But anyway, please don't use this as your own. Thanks!
My heart stopped. My breath ceased. I stood at the foot of my greatest obstacle, knowing that I was going to die. There was no going back. So I squared my shoulders, stepped forward, and went to meet my greatest monster ever.
The building was hardly Ivy League—just a simple community college—but daunting nonetheless. This could crush me. I could fail all my classes and finally meet a scholarly demise. School sucked.
My first class, American Literature, was in a nondescript, windowless room with a bunch of desks shoved together and a teacher who looked like he could die at any time. I made a note to put that in a poem.
I slid in next to a brown-haired girl with a pretty face. She leaned over to whisper in my ear, "Hi, I'm Madge."
"Katniss," I replied, chewing on my fingernails nervously. It was a disgusting habit I had, one I couldn't seem to break.
"Katniss," Madge said, brown eyes widening. It figured. I always got a reaction to my weird name, once that I had contemplated changing a thousand times. Why couldn't I have been a Sarah, or a Debby, or even a Michaela? Those never got second glances.
"Everdeen," I tacked on lamely.
She nodded and turned back to her book. She was reading one of the Austen novels. I hated classics with a passion. Why had I signed up for this class, again? Oh yeah, so I could get enough credits to graduate.
Two blondes walked in. I looked up, studying them. The girl hovered close to the boy, her straight yellow hair cascading halfway down her back. She was pretty, with big eyes and a womanly figure. I was more trim—I always had been—and I had come to envy girls built like, well, girls.
The boy was broad shouldered, with the most amazing blue eyes that popped out at me even from three yards away. He was lean, and tall. He had a bit of stubble coating his chin; just enough to reveal that he could indeed grow a beard but chose not too. I gaped, slightly mesmerized.
Madge pinched my arm. Ouch.
"You're staring," she hissed in my ear.
I glared at her. "Thanks."
The boy sat down right across from me, followed by the girl. She smiled at him fondly. It was obvious they were a couple.
I looked down at my new, blank notebook, trying to look occupied. Occasionally I stole glances at him. His fingertips were stained with color—either he was a painter or a tattoo artist. Since he didn't seem to have any of those (at least none that were immediately visible), I went with the first.
A peek under the table, due to an "accidentally" dropped pencil, revealed he wore ratty jeans, with a rip in the knee. That knee. My stomach flipped. I sat back up so quickly I banged my head on the edge of my desk.
Everyone looked of course, him included. He raised his eyes briefly but kept his head down, focused on a carving in his desk.
"Are you okay?" The blonde next to him asked, looking concerned.
I nodded and forced a smile. "I'm excellent. Sorry."
"Don't apologize, sweetheart. You didn't do anything wrong." She leaned across the small space between the circle of desks, and patted my arm. "I'm Delly."
"Delly," I said, with a smile. "Katniss."
The boy looked up a bit more, now mildly interested. "Katniss?"
My insides melted. His voice was like the sweetest honey.
"Katniss," I confirmed, a little too late.
He looked back down.
I played with my pencil. "What's your name?"
He looked up. He smiled.
And that's when I fell in love.
My sister, Prim—also weirdly named, thanks a lot mom—called me the second I walked in my apartment. I picked up the phone on the ninth ring.
"You really need a voicemail," she complained.
I sighed. "I'm great, thanks for asking. How about you?"
"I'm sitting here eating high-calorie German chocolate cake, and not regretting a single bite. It's like heaven."
"You shouldn't. You're fifteen. No regrets."
"You are correct, dear sister."
I sank down into my couch cushions, kicking off my shoes. "So."
"So. How was school?'
She laughed at my flat monotone. "You sound thrilled!"
"Just you wait until you're gone," I threatened. "You'll miss everything."
"I don't think that's going to happen."
"Me missing everything. I'm going to be so ready to escape this town."
We lived in the Kentucky countryside, in a little house just off the main road into what some might consider more of a village than anything. It was filled with old religious people. Not that I minded. It was better than New York or Brooklyn.
"Much of everything?"
Prim giggled. "You'll be fine, Katniss. Just find something to latch on to. I'm sure there's someone there that can keep you sane."
"Love you. I've got to go."
"What're you doing?"
"Finishing the chocolate cake and then I'm going to go get pie."
I laughed. "Why?"
"Because I can and I'm hungry and I want something sweet!"
"Please send me some virtual pie."
We said our goodbyes and hung up. I stared at the phone for a long time afterward, missing Prim more than ever. I loved my crazy, sweet, shy sister with a passion. I hoped I'd get to see her soon.
I sat on the couch for awhile afterward, finally convincing myself I needed some exercise. It would be so easy to hole up in here and never see the sun again. I forced myself up, back into my bedroom, and changed into a pair of shorts and a tank top.
I stepped outside, shoving my iPod earbuds in. The voice of John Mayer filled my head, and I began jogging. And I keep waiting, waiting, waiting on the world to change.
I was waiting on my attitude to change. Preferably soon.
I saw Delly before she saw me. The blonde was jogging towards me, head down, intent on her course. Her converse slapped against the pavement. Her hair was swept back into a halfhearted ponytail, and her neck was red and slick with sweat. She wore an outfit similar to mine, only the shorts were longer and the shirt was looser.
"Hey, Katniss!" She chirped, finally noticing me.
I waved, surprised she remembered my name. Then again, it might have been kind of hard to forget.
I was ready to pass right by her, but she slowed and placed her hand on my arm. "Hey. I'm having a party on Saturday, to celebrate everyone's first week of college."
"If we're still alive by then," I quipped.
She laughed. "You're too funny. Yes, if we survive." She brushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear. "I'd love for you to come."
"Is Pete…Madge, going to be there?" I stuttered.
She nodded. "Yeah. We're good friends."
"And your boyfriend?"
"Huh?" She tilted her head, wrinkling her nose cutely. "I don't have a boyfriend."
"Yeah you do. Peeta."
"Oh!" She laughed. "He's a friend, Katniss. A childhood friend. More like a brother than anything else…" She shook her head. "It would be too weird, you know?"
"You look cute together, though," I said weakly.
She beamed. "Thanks. But blondes don't really go with blondes, you know? I like contrast!" She reached out to tug on my braid. "Now, you two would be stunning as a couple. You're total opposites."
I wanted to choke. Badly. "Huh? No."
"Do you already have a boyfriend, then?"
"Then why not? Why not go with him?"
"Because…" I started to walk again, and Delly turned around, hurrying to keep up with me. I fumbled for an answer. "We…I don't know him."
"It's not a date, Katniss. Just two friends going to a party."
"We're not friends," I protested.
"Ah, but you could be!" She smiled, earnest. "Get to know him this week. You'll love him. He's so special."
"No thanks. I think I'll pass."
"Katniss!" She chortled. "You're so stubborn."
"I can't go with him."
"Because I have a boyfriend."
She narrowed her eyes. "You already said you didn't."
"I changed my mind. He's imaginary, and I'm madly in love." I slung my arm around an invisible figure. "See?"
"Very cute." Delly was laughing so hard she snorted. "You're a riot, Katniss. A riot. Oh, well. I better get going."
"Where do you live?"
"At the apartments a mile or so from here."
I'd seen them on my way into the city, earlier this week. "Oh. Okay."
"Number two-fifteen." She patted my arm absently. "I'll see you there."
Had I said I was coming? I didn't think so.
"I'll be there," I found myself saying, despite my inner monologue. Stupid, stupid me.
"Awesome!" She jogged off again, the opposite direction I was going. Thank goodness for that. "I'll see you at school tomorrow! Have a lovely evening!"
"You too!" I called. But she was already gone.
The week passed uneventfully. Every day I watched Peeta. I learned new things about him. Like, in addition to painting, he liked to bake. He let that slip one day, during lunch, when Delly made him bring me a cookie from the tin he had bought to school.
"Thanks," I said, taking a bite. "Goodness, this is heavenly."
He smiled, faintly. "Thanks."
"Where do you get these?"
"Where do you get these?"
"I don't. I bake them."
I grinned. "You like baking?"
"Yeah. A lot." Then he flushed red and turned around, striding back toward his table without another word. I watched after him, while my heart hammered in my chest.
He also had anxiety. Lots of it. Madge told me it was because of his childhood; he'd had an abusive mother, a passive, facile father, and two overbearing brothers. His leg was always bouncing nervously—his eyes never lingered on anything for too long—and once I heard him yelling at Delly, his voice distorted with worry and emotion.
"Peeta," she'd said, in her most soothing voice. "I'm here, Peeta. I'm here."
Friday rolled around, the day of the party, and I found myself unsure as to whether I really wanted to go. I called my friend from home, Greta, who encouraged me to go.
"Katniss, what you really need is to be carefree for a single night. Drink some beer, talk to a few guys, and have fun. You haven't had fun since your dad died."
"I couldn't, Greta. I was taking care of Prim."
"And now you don't have to anymore. Your mom is better, and your sister is old enough to take care of herself."
With black hair and gorgeous brown eyes, Greta was the beauty of our little town, and everyone loved her. I was lucky to have her as a friend.
"Okay. Take care of her, okay?"
"Okay. And don't forget: Dress to impress!"
I laughed and hung up.
I did end up dressing to impress, or at least I hoped I did. I pulled on a pair of white shorts that barely passed as such. They were more underwear than anything, but they made my legs look tan and long, and so I wore them. I paired that with a casual t-shirt that, in most cases, I wouldn't have even worn to bed. It was indecent. It was tight, and revealed a small strip of stomach at the bottom. But this was a college party.
So I dressed to impress.
"Katniss!" Delly's eyes popped when she opened the door to her apartment, only a few moments later. "You look…"
"Trashy? I can change." I chewed my lip nervously.
"Hot!" Some guy chimed in behind her. He kept walking, though, not sparing me more than an appreciative full-body glance.
She smiled sheepishly. "That's Charles. He's…"
"Wasted!" Another voice said. A girl with a severe face and long, black hair peeked out from behind Delly. "Hey. I'm Clay, Charles's girlfriend."
"Katniss," I said, sticking my hand out.
She smirked. "Don't try to steal him."
I retreated my hand.
She walked away, hips swinging, leaving me to wallow in my stupidity.
Delly glared at Clay's back. "That girl is trouble. I'd like to know who invited her, exactly. Well, there's nothing we can do now." She stepped to the side. "Come in."
I did. Inside the apartment, it was a few degrees warmer. People danced to upbeat pop music, a little too young for the crowd, but it didn't matter. I instantly helped myself to a soda, opting out of the alcohol. What Greta didn't know wouldn't hurt her.
Madge spotted me and came surging forward. "Katniss! You look awesome."
"Thanks," I said, over the loud pounding of the bass. "So do you."
She laughed. "Ha. Thanks. I'm…" She tugged at the bottom of her little leather dress. "I'm trying."
"So, Delly." Madge turned to the blonde, who was sipping slowly from a red cup. "Care to show me where your prince charming is?"
Delly giggled. "Madge. Please. He's not here yet."
"I want to see him."
"He's not here."
"But I want to see him when he is here."
"Okay. I promise I'll show you him."
I wandered off, leaving the two friends to chat. I went over to the snack table and snagged a cracker. My eyes searched the room. Where was the blonde head? The broad shoulders? Obviously, not here.
"Hey. Do you wanna dance?"
I turned to a plain-faced, curly-headed boy with earnest eyes. He was cute, in an offhand way. But not my way.
"Um…not right now."
He nodded, unfazed. "The name's Marvel."
I grinned. "Like the comic?
"Like the comic."
"Katniss." His eyebrows shot up. "I like. I like."
I laughed. "It's weird."
"Naw. It's cute."
I turned back to face the party, craning my neck to see past a bunch of jocks gathered in the corner.
"Looking for someone?"
Marvel's voice was right in my ear. I jumped. He'd stepped closer.
"Um. Not really." I set down my now-empty soda can. "Bye."
"Bye." He watched with remorse as I hurried off.
I had to find Peeta.