"And you didn't feel like mentioning this earlier?" Peeta yells when I'm finished catching him up on the last few months.

We're just outside the forest where the fence surrounding the District used to be. They must've taken it down a while ago, because there's no evidence that it was ever there at all. As if I need anything else to have changed.

"You kept your engagement from me, I kept my wedding and pregnancy from you," I say, my voice cold and hard, though I know I'm not being fair to him. But it wasn't easy telling Peeta what had happened in Two. I'd barely had time to fully relive them myself, so telling him was far from painless. The least he could do was appreciate the fact I'd opened up. "And you didn't have to attack Gale," I add offhandedly.

"Didn't I?" he snaps. I blink at him in confusion. "You basically just told me that he's been doing nothing but screwing around with you and your feelings. Summer, you can't let people do that to you!"

"It's not like I never did it to him!" I scream in frustration. "Do you really think that the fighting and arguing was one-sided? No. In fact, you should probably have attacked me, if that's your way of solving everything. It's all my fault! I shouldn't have spewed my feelings at him."

"If you were really that unhappy, why didn't you just ask me to pay for a train ticket? I would've…" he trails off, a bead of sweat breaking out at his hairline.

I take a deep breath. "He's my friend, Peeta," I say calmly.

"I'm your friend too," he points out, frowning at me.

This is what I hate about Peeta. He's one of the few people in this world that can make me feel truly sad. Yes, I felt guilty for probably influencing a drunken Gale to marry me. And I definitely feel guilty that he's giving up his whole life to take care of a child he doesn't particularly want. But he didn't make me sad. I make me sad.

Peeta, on the other hand, has this uncanny ability to ruin my happiness. For instance, he made me incredibly sad years ago when he decided I was too evil to be in his life. Or even when we were in the Capitol and he'd yell at me, spewing insults every which way.

But then again, he also has the power to make me laugh despite myself. He can force me to get out of bed when I've slept past noon. He certainly doesn't take any crap from me. He's right. He is my friend.

"I'm sorry," I whisper. "But I can't leave Gale."

He shakes his head at me with a far off look on his face. "I just feel like this is the universe's way of biting me in the back," he confides.

"What do you mean?" I ask.

"It's no secret that Gale's always had feelings for Katniss. But she chose me. So now the universe is letting him get you instead. Which isn't worse, but it still sucks," Peeta says. My mouth drops open.

"That's the real reason you tackled Gale, wasn't it? What, you want me all to yourself?" I almost screech in realization.

"I'm just trying to keep you safe! I knew something like this would happen if you went to Two, but I didn't even try to talk you out of it…"

I narrow my eyes at him. "This is my life, Peeta. I'm pregnant, and you're mad because you didn't hand pick the guy yourself? Are you crazy?"

"Yes!" Peeta exclaims, throwing his arms out. "I am crazy! And whose fault is that?"

I step back, gaping at him. "You're not really bringing that up right now, are you? I thought we were passed that!"

"How am I supposed to get passed the fact that your father broke me?" Peeta asks through gritted teeth. I narrow my eyes further. "How am I supposed to get past that when I can't even look at Katniss without wanting to strangle her?"

I glare at him in warning. He hasn't spoken talk with malice towards my father in years. And now it's suddenly rising to the surface?

"Peeta, calm down," I say, my voice shaking. "You're having an attack. Just… just sit down. We can talk about this-"

"I'm not having an attack! Why can't anyone just let me get angry for once?" he shouts. Even through the darkness, I can see his face growing redder by the second.

"I just don't want to fight with you tonight!" I yell in reply. "I didn't… I didn't come back to Twelve just so that I could fight with everyone."

"Then why did you come back?" Peeta asks, his voice losing venom, but still full of anger.

"Divorces are a lot cheaper here," I admit sadly, looking down at my boots. But I can still see Peeta's mouth drop open in my peripheral vision.

"Unbelievable," he mutters blankly, starting to walk away. But he stops after a few steps, and walks back to me, his face inches from mine. "You are unbelievable." With that, he kicks the thin tree beside me in silent fury. "Don't let Katniss know that you're only here to cheaply divorce her best friend."

This time, he walks away for good. I stare at the back of his head until he's so far away the dark night absorbs his silhouette. I'm crying, but it's unexpected. I never cry after I fight (heated argument, as he calls it) with Gale.

When you spend a long time away from someone, you begin to build this mental shrine to them because when they aren't within walking distance, they have less opportunity to make you angry, sad, or annoyed. This, of course, creates an image of that person without all of their flaws. So when you finally spend time with them, you're almost immediately disappointed that they are not what you envisioned them as.

I wonder if Peeta had this phenomenon more than I accept that I had. Maybe we're both just waiting for the other to be perfect all the time. Does that qualify as a toxic relationship? I've always sort of known that Gale and I had the kind of relationship people fight all their lives to get out of. But I never really have much thought to the relationship Peeta and I have.

Am I subconsciously waiting for him to get better one day? Because I've only ever known a sick Peeta, I don't want him to get better. Maybe my mind doesn't want to have to get to know a completely different person. Maybe that's not it at all.

Have I forgotten how to have relationships with people who aren't always sad or angry? Is this what everyone means when they say a girl has, 'daddy issues?' Am I trying to find a guy as close to my father as possible even though he was cruel to me most of my life? No. That's nonsense. I'm not that brainless. And besides, if I fell in love with someone who even remotely resembled my father, it would just give me another similarity to my mother. And that's unacceptable.

Okay think. Who have I befriended since I got out of the Capitol that wasn't at any point a gloomy cloud of sadness when I knew them? There's Kendall, I guess. But it's after midnight, and while I should visit him sometime while I'm here, I don't think it should be in the middle of the night.

Who do other people talk to when they're stressed at night? A voice in the back of my mind tells me to go inside and admit my fears to my husband, but if I did that, I'd have to explain so much. Too much.

Suddenly, I realize that even if Gale did have feelings for me in return, it wouldn't matter. He'd have feelings for a girl whose story he didn't know. But I can't tell him everything. Peeta, my best friend in the world, didn't speak to me for weeks unless it was to cut me down. If Gale found out… stacked on top of this pregnancy, our accidental marriage, the freaking rent, for crying out loud… He couldn't handle this. But I can't lie to him forever. Actually, I guess that as long as Peeta doesn't tell, I can. No, lying is wrong. Don't lie.

Up until now, Gale has been pretty content only being told that I lived in Four until my parents died in the war, and I met Peeta in Thirteen during his treatment. But only two of those details are facts: my parents are dead, and I met Peeta during his treatment. Though I guess it was a completely different kind of treatment than what he assumes.

I flinch involuntarily at my past, but try to brush it off by deciding that it was just the cold wind blowing in my face. I walk back to the house Gale and I are staying in, but as slowly as possible. I feel numb. Lifeless. It isn't until I reach the steps leading to the front door of the house that the pain in my scalp registers. Have I been pulling at my hair?

"What's wrong with you?" I hear Gale ask when I enter the house. I stare at him. Through him. "Summer?"

"I need to…" I start, but he's gathered me in his arms. I don't hug him back but bury my face in his shirt, trying to make myself relax.

"What's wrong?" Gale asks again. I don't look up, but my gaze instead tilts towards the floor somberly.

"Nobody wants me, do they?" I say. There's a moment of quiet.

"That's not true. I want you," he whispers. My heart leaps but my mind suffocates the feeling. He's not saying it the way I want him to. He's saying as a, "You need to stick around and pay your half of the rent," sort of way.

"Doubt it," I spit, more to myself than to him. "I'm nothing special. I'm no Mockingjay. Everybody wants a piece of the Mockingjay."

He doesn't reply, and I don't blame him. Well, I do blame him. I hate him for not replying. I just want to run away forever.

"What?" Gale asks, his voice raising an octave. My eyebrows pull together. Did I say that out loud?

"Just forget about it," I tell him, scraping my palms against my face to rub the tears away. "I'll see you in the morning. On the down low."

Something about what I say obviously doesn't sit right with Gale, but he'll get over it. He's probably already plotting to get Katniss to fall in love with him. I wonder if he knows that she's engaged yet. I could always tell him. It'd break his heart in half.

"Goodnight," he says as I walk up the stairs, headed towards my bedroom. I almost lose my numbness for a moment, but it strangles me without my permission. So I keep walking until I reach my room. I leave the door open, but turn out the light and fall onto the bed without another sound.

I'm woken up by the sound of footsteps in my room, walking to the window beside me. The curtains are opened, and oranges and pinks of dawn stream in. My eyes open, almost without my permission, to find Gale going to the other side of my bed and opening those curtains as well.

"What are you doing?" I ask. Stupid question. It's obvious.

"You're not well, Summer," he replies. I purse my lips in defiance.

"I'm fine," I argue.

"I thought so too. You told me the nightmares went away," Gale says with a stern expression. Frowning at him, I sit up. I don't remember waking up last night from nightmares, but I do remember the nightmares themselves.

"I've got it under control," I tell him. He rolls his eyes.

"That's not what it sounded like last night. Do you want to talk?"

"Of course I want to talk. But if I talk, you'll just get angrier at me, and to be honest, I can't handle that right now."

He sighs and sits on the edge of the bed beside me. "I know that I haven't been fair to you lately. It's just… There's so much stress trying to pay for the house, and meals, and everything. And when we found out you were pregnant, I… You know that I had to practically raise my siblings when I was younger. And I love them more than anything, but when I moved to Two, it was to get away from that kind of responsibility."

I look down at my lap, unsure of what to say. Gale and I haven't had anything even close to this kind of heart-to-heart conversation in months – maybe in over a year. Most of our exchanges, even before all the recent drama, weren't very personal. Occasionally, we'd talk about past experiences with family or other relationships, mine being very limited. Other than that, we stuck to laughing at each other, bickering, and talking about money.

"I'm not angry at you," he continues. "And I know I've said some things that made it seem like I wouldn't be here for you, but I am." Gale pauses, and I realize that his face looks tense – not that he's ever not tense around me anymore, but there's something different about it now. "I don't want to get a divorce."

I stare at him incomprehensively. "What?"

"I don't want this kid to have the same life I did. He'll need a father."

I shake my head. "W-What if I don't want to be married to you?" I stammer, looking down. "This needs to be a two-way thing, and I'm not sure that I ever want to be married, period."

"But I thought you-"

"It's a teenage infatuation, you idiot! I wasn't telling you that I loved you!" I yell, throwing my hands up. I feel suddenly relieved. I'd been dying to explain this to him for weeks, but I never had the opportunity. "And I wouldn't have said anything at all that day if you hadn't almost kissed me!"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Gale lies. I glare at him. "Don't look at me like that!"

"What are you hiding?" I ask, my eyes widening as I replay my conversation with Peeta last night over and over in my head. "Gale?"

When he doesn't respond, I throw the covers off of my body, and stomp to the dresser across the room. I grab a pair of jeans and a sweater before running into the bathroom.

Five minutes later, I'm dressed, my hair is brushed, I'm fully awake, and I'm stamping downstairs and out the door, with Gale following closely behind me.

"Listen Summer, it's not what you think," he tries to say.

"He went too far this time," I tell Gale, stopping in my tracks to turn around and look at him. "Don't you get it? This –" I throw my arms out dramatically "– is all his fault! And you let him get away with it for so long. Not anymore."

"As much as I want to see you kick Mellark's ass, I'm going to have to stop you right there," he says, putting his hands on my shoulders. "I never told you how I felt because you scared me. Not him."

"What?" I gasp for air after practically running almost the whole way to Katniss's house.

"Katniss is the only girl I've ever really loved. And even though she obviously doesn't need me, it still scares the hell out of me to think about loving someone else," he pants, also recovering from the journey outside. I'll give him credit, he can run pretty fast. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm not very good at this emotional crap."

I stare at him in awe. There's no way he's telling me the truth. No one is that good of an actor. But why would he lie now? Maybe he's trying to trick me into staying married to him to save money. It's all about the money with him.

Pinching the bridge of my nose, I close my eyes for a few seconds before saying, "Back home, I was getting drunk every night to avoid the nightmares. I was drunk when I told you I had feelings for you, and I was drunk the night before that, and the night before that. That's where all our money went. Are you sure you can be married to a drunk?"

He rolls his eyes at me, but I can tell he's surprised by the news. "You're not a drunk."

"Not anymore!" I confirm. "I'm not careless enough to keep drinking while I'm pregnant, even this early on. But you need to know that the nightmares are back, and they probably aren't going to go away any time soon."

"Okay," Gale says. I raise an eyebrow at him. "I kind of had my suspicions but… Summer, if the nightmares are that bad-"

"I don't need any help," I snap. I bite my tongue, then speak again quietly, "I'm going inside. It's freezing out here."

"So we're not going to City Hall?" he asks, as I walk back to the house.

"Not this time," I call back to him without stopping.

This is not smart, a part of my mind whispers.

You're not smart, the other part retaliates poorly.

In truth, my conversations with Gale in the past sixteen hours have been extremely confusing and potentially misleading. He mentioned he had feelings for me but didn't know how to tell me. But then, he could've just been speaking about girls in general, and not me. He also asked what the point of his life was if I wasn't in it? What's that supposed to mean? I'm suddenly regretting my departure from Gale last night to talk to Peeta. I could've found out what he meant right there.

On the bright side, he seems to be legitimately supportive of this pregnancy – which is refreshing. Until now the other person besides me who truly accepted this pregnancy for what it was, was the doctor who'd confirmed it in the first place. Also, Gale didn't seem angry about my drinking problem. Well, my nightmares were the problem – drinking was the solution.

My mind tosses around everything he's ever said to me from the night of the Spring Festival, to every day in Two, to now. Maybe my assumptions that he liked me back weren't so farfetched after all. But that means that he intentionally hurt me for the past few months by lying about his feelings. Or maybe this is all just an act because he found out that Katniss and Peeta are engaged!

Don't over think this, Summer. Gale wouldn't use you. Even if you're still somehow managing to misread things, he's your friend. He's your husband, for goodness' sakes! Well, you're married to him. Actually no, you just signed a bunch of papers that legalize a union between the two of you. 'Husband' and 'married' are words that are too… spiritual and romantic for this situation.

I'm sitting at the kitchen table an hour later, debating whether or not I have the energy to cook anything when there's quiet knock on the archway between the dining room and kitchen. I look up to see Peeta standing with his hands in his pockets, staring at me through the hair that drapes over his eyes messily. I don't stiffen like I would've expected myself to, but I'm still surprised to see him.

"I'm sorry for what I said last night. About your father," Peeta tells me. I blink.

"Don't be sorry for how you feel," I reply, my voice relaxed. I'm less on edge, now that I know Gale is on my side, and that we have a few hundred dollars available since we're no longer divorcing. I didn't think I'd ever feel this casual again.

"I still shouldn't have said it," he argues. "At least, not to you."

I look down. "I overreacted. Time has made me forget how much he hurt me. It made me forget how much how many lives he was willing to sacrifice to maintain power. But I shouldn't forget."

"Who cares about what you should do?" Peeta asks, sitting across from me at the table. He's staring at me with a passion I haven't seen in his eyes for years. "Do what gets you through the day."

We're silent for a minute as I let his words sink in.

"Gale and I have decided to give this marriage thing a chance," I let him know timidly. "We've still got a lot more to talk about, but I think this is what's best for everyone."

I expect Peeta to throw a tantrum like he sometimes (always) likes to when I don't tell him what he wants to hear, but he just nods. "You're welcome to stay here as long as you want," he says. I smile softly. "I mean, Hawthorne's got to go, but you can stay."

I laugh at him. "Hey, I'm technically Hawthorne now too," I tease. Peeta rolls his eyes. "Well, I can't very well go by Snow, can I?"

"What have you used before now?" he asks.

"It's complicated," I state wearily. "Everyone in my family is given an alias in case of emergency. You know, in case one or all of us have to go into hiding. We have whole lives in the Districts that are completely fake. So, my name was Summer Dashner. And all my fake records were pulled up by the computers: the time I supposedly checked into the Reapings each year, my fake parent's names, my fake family tree, my fake school grades, my fake childhood… Gale doesn't really ask about my past, so I've only had to lie a few times."

"But if you married Gale under false pretenses, the marriage isn't valid, right?"

I shake my head. "That's not really how it works."

Peeta looks down at the table in thought, and I hold my breath. "Gale makes you happy?"

Now it's my turn to look down, but it's with a fond smile. "Do you think it's crazy that I might be falling in love with him?" I ask.

"Well, you're already married so you might as well," he considers a bit dryly. I don't think he's completely supportive of Gale and me, but he's putting on quite the brave face. Even though he upset me last night (more than I'd care to admit), he's not a bad person. He just wants to make sure that everyone is safe and happy.

"I've been thinking," I start, but then I pause. I talk myself out of saying anything twice, but the need is too strong, and Peeta seems expectant. "Do you think this –our – friendship is healthy?"

Peeta scoffs. "I don't have any healthy relationships, but at least yours gives me the least headaches."

I blink. "It hasn't gotten any better?" I ask, referring to his attacks.

"It's day by day. Sometimes, I can spend all day with Katniss without thinking anything of it. But other days… Like when she was really ill, there were these moments of sickening hope that she would just…" He sighs, rubbing his eyes with his hands.

"Hey," I say, snatching one of his hands off his face, forcing him to look at me. "That's not you. You're not like that."

"I am now," he argues sourly.

I shake my head, struggling to find words. "No, you're not. You just… Peeta, you're a good person. You're an amazing person. Do you love Katniss?"

"Yes," he answers quietly.

"Remember that," I tell him. "Hold onto that. Also, stop changing your medication doses. It's obviously not doing you any good."