Chasing Pavements

"Peeta Mellark," Effie Trinket called, standing behind the podium in the auditorium, with an obnoxiously pink outfit on. "Who would like to bid for Peeta Mellark?"

Yes, I, Peeta Mellark, was a… basket boy.

Ever since Vice Principal Effie Trinket had read Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, she decided this year would be a good year to embarrass us students, of Panem High. Especially us males. And of course, I was chosen to be one of the basket boys.

Whether it was because I was 'good-looking', or because I was the son of a family of bakers, which would ensure a good lunch, I had been picked as one of the thirty unlucky guys to stand up on the stage. Great. Just great.

It wasn't like I was one of those guys who were chose to stand up on here just to be humiliated. Everyone told me I was a nice, handsome guy. (Maybe the handsome part came from old ladies, but it's the thought that counts, right?)

But I just wanted one person to pick me. Just one specific girl; Katniss Everdeen.

Fat chance, I know, but there was a part of me that just hoped. It's always good to hope, right?

Peeta Mellark's Weather Forecast: cloudy and lots of thunderstorms. Chance of precipitation (aka a lonely life), 99%. Chance of no rain — or a normal life, 1%.

The 'happily ever after life' doesn't even fit there. Because honestly, it's not going to happen. Like, ever. Might as well give up chasing those pavements before you slip.

The sun ain't coming out to dry it off.

Katniss Everdeen isn't going to choose me.

I stood next to Effie, basket in hand. The lights blared down on me, shining into my eyes. I scanned over the audience, full of girls with money in their hands. When I landed on Katniss, I saw that she, too, was holding money.

Energy surged through my body and I stood upright, realizing that I might actually have a chance! Peeta Mellark's weather forecast might be changing!

And then I realized the obvious. Gale Hawthorne, Katniss' best friend, was a basket boy as well. But most importantly, he hadn't come up yet.

My heart sank back to where it was. To the bottom of my stomach.

As soon as Effie asked who would like to bid for me, noise erupted from the audience.

"Fifteen dollars!" a female voice cried, waving a five and a ten dollar bill in the air. I recognized her as Cynthia Brown, a slightly pudgy girl who enjoyed eating food.

I almost thought I would be stuck giving up all my food to Cynthia. "Twenty!" another voice cried. Iridan Hex, a pretty Asian girl.

Uma Thorne was next: "Twenty-five!"

"Thirty!" Iridan cried, raising it by five more dollars.

"Fourty," the newest voice cried. Inanna Cross, the daughter of a wealthy business man — she was probably going to put up a fight.

Grace Frintz — the school drama queen — stood up theatrically, flipping her blonde hair over her shoulder. "Fifty-five dollars," she called in her British accent.

"Sixty." Hallie Martin.

"Sixty-five." Inanna.






This is where Effie stopped them. "Ladies! This is a young man we are arguing over! Not an inanimate object! Show some dignity; I haven't even announced what our Peeta's prepared for lunch!"

Our Peeta? WHAT? Didn't she just say to show some dignity?

"Peeta, dear, what did you bring today?" Effie asked me softly.

I stared out into the audience, trying not to let my eyes linger on Katniss that much. "Um, I have Tomato-Pesto and Mozzarella Panini sandwiches, Sugar Cookies, Barbeque Chicken Chopped Salad, and…" My gaze drifted to Katniss. "Cheese Topped Bread."

Her gray eyes visibly brightened and she licked her lips before biting the bottom one. Honestly, I had chosen it just because I knew it was her favorite, and it'd win me some brownie points, or whatever — something to get her to choose me.

"That sounds absolutely scrumptious, Peeta! Whoever bids the highest will be one lucky girl!"

I fought the urge to roll my eyes and bust out laughing. Scrumptious.

The arguing started up again. "One-hundred ten!" Inanna.

"One-hundred and twenty!" Hallie.

"One-hundred and fifty!" Inanna cried triumphantly.

Hallie sat down, falling silent, making Inanna grin smugly. I really don't mind giving the lunch I packed to Inanna. I just would rather prefer it went to Katniss. That's who I had in mind when I made it, after all.

Inanna is the only one standing by now, and she has a wide grin on her face. I look at Katniss, whose head is bent down, her brown hair in a braid. My heart sinks even more when I realize that she's not bidding for me.

Effie smiles widely and she grips the edges of the podium with one hand, the other resting on my shoulder. "One-hundred fifty? Any higher bidders?" Effie calls, looking out to the audience. Inanna's face has a smirk on it, and I look down at the ground. "Going once… Going twice… Three times and Inanna Cross, Peeta Mellark is y —"

"One-hundred and fifty-five dollars!" a voice says, only loud enough for me to barely hear it.

Slowly, I raise my eyes to look at the bidder. She's staring at me with an intensity that almost makes me shiver. Her braid drapes over one shoulder, while her arm is raised, holding the money in the air. "One-hundred and fifty-five dollars!" she repeats, her voice louder and more firm.

It is the voice of Katniss Everdeen.

Her gray eyes connect with mine and she gives me a small smile, before looking over at Inanna, who has a shocked look on her face. "I bid one-fifty-five for Peeta Mellark."

Everyone looks over to Inanna, seeing if she is willing to bid more, but to the audience's surprise, — and mine as well — she slumps back down in her seat, and outraged look on her face.

Effie winks at me, before saying, "Once? Twice? Three times? Peeta Mellark is sold to the one and only Miss Katniss Everdeen!"

Holy crap.


"You look surprised," Katniss said, strolling up to me after the Basket Boys Auction ended.

I shrugged in response, still in shock from the earlier events.

She raised an eyebrow at me. "Yeah, sure. And they call me difficult…" Katniss muttered to herself.

"I guess I'm just… surprised." She gave me a look that said, 'NAW'. "I thought I'd always be well… chasing pavements."

Katniss smothered a laugh that was bound to come out at one point or another. "Like that Adele song?"

My cheeks heated up. "Slightly?" I mumbled.

With a laugh, Katniss shoved my side playfully. We fell into an awkward silence as we walked to the picnic area, where all the Basket Boy contestants would eat. "You made that cheese bread for me, didn't you?" Katniss asked, her gray eyes showing amusement.

I scoffed. "Cocky much?" I asked teasingly, although she was pretty much head-on.

"Oh please, we both know it was just for me!"

Laughing, I shook my head. "That's where you're wrong."

She held her hands out. "Gimme please?"

"Give you what?"

"You know what I want?"

"What, a kiss?" I shot back, my words accidentally running out of my mouth before I could think.

Her hands drop to the side and she stared at me, her lips pursed. It was silent for a bit before she replied. "Someday, maybe…" Katniss trailed off, before grinning at me unexpectedly, making my heart pound faster in my chest. "But right now, I would really like that cheese bread of yours."

Reaching into the basket with a laugh, I handed the bread to her. "As you wish, milady."

Peeta Melark's Weather Forecast: sunny all the way