Always and Forever

Two Birds, One Stone

Peeta’s pov

The smell of smoke and sizzling meat becomes stronger and so does the light. Before I even say anything, both Finnick and Gale notice it as well and begin walking so fast that I’d call it running. Thankfully walking in the sand is a quiet procedure so we don’t have to be careful about our foot placing like we would have to be in the woods.

Finnick and Gale both have longer legs than I do so I have to struggle to keep up with their very fast pace.

“So, what is our plan of attack?” Gale asks a moment later, stopping for breath.

“How about the element of surprise.” Finnick suggests. “I mean, it’s the middle of the night so I doubt more than one or two of the guys are awake. If we take care of them quickly and quietly then we’ll search for the girls.”

“Sounds good to me.” I say. “But what about weapons?”

“Well I have Katniss’s bow and arrows, and each of us will take a dagger either for cutting ropes or getting out alive.” Gale explains.

It makes me feel a little sick to think about killing anyone, but if it is necessary to save Katniss then I’ll do anything. We are getting quite close now so Gale divides out the weapons evenly and we press on.

By now I can hear the muttering of voices but it sounds like there are only two, three at the most.

Suddenly Gale stops abruptly and I almost trip while trying to stop myself from bumping into him.

“What is it?” Finnick asks, a little annoyed that he is stopping us.

“I just think that you two should let me do this alone…” he begins but I cut him off,

“Are you kidding me?” I hiss, trying my best not to yell and give away our presence. “This is my wife we’re talking about.”

“Mine too, and Finnick’s.” Gale counters.

“Sure, but we’re almost positive Katniss is here, none of us have any idea where either Madge or Annie could possibly have been taken. We’re all going.” I end with a sense of finality in my voice that kind of surprises all three of us.

“Fine, but you had better keep quiet and not mess everything up.” He grumbles and continues walking.

“He didn’t mean it.” Finnick whispers, coming up beside me.

“I know.” I say with a sigh, “He’s just as antsy about finding Madge as we are about Katniss and Annie.”

Finnick nods and we hurry to catch up with Gale who has already put a considerable distance between us with his speed walking. About two minutes later Gale stops again and we come to stand beside him. There before us is a circle of four good sized tents with a small campfire in the middle, and just our luck, the two guys we heard talking a few minutes previous are now asleep, one on either side of the fire. I chuckle quietly to myself because I can hear their snores from where we are hiding. Even Gale cracks a smile, probably happy that this should be easier than we had expected. We then begin stepping stealthily closer and closer to the tents and the sleeping men, careful not to step on any dry sticks or leaves from the few trees near by. My heart is beating so hard and loudly that I am afraid someone will hear it. I am practically giddy with excitement, which seems a little weird for a guy, especially me, about the prospect of seeing Katniss again in a matter of minutes. Even though it has only been hours since I’ve seen her it feels like days and all I want is to hold her in my arms again.

“Okay, here’s the plan.” Gale whispers to us, causing Finnick and I to halt and listen intently to his instruction.

“I’ll stand guard and make sure those dudes don’t wake up and you two will check each tent for the girls.”

“What if they’re not here?” I ask, trying to think of all the possibilities.

“Then we’ll search till we find all three of them.” Gale growls quietly and I just nod.

“Okay, let’s go.” Finnick says and together the three of us enter the camp, hoping that this business will go quickly and easily and hopefully with the least amount of spilled blood as possible.

We hold our breaths as we step into the camp and Gale takes his post near the fire so that he can detain the two men from finding us, if they wake up. Finnick and I then split up so that we can each check the two tents on either side of the fire.

The first tent I open is almost empty except for a few supplies: blankets, food, lanterns…etc. I glance at Finnick across the fire and he just shakes his head and I do the same, then we move on to the final two tents.

Katniss’s pov

I don’t really sleep, just lay there in the sleeping bag, hoping that I won’t be dragged out and killed anytime soon. In the few hours that follow I occasionally reach over to the bag and end up eating all of the food available. I feel restless, pretty much about everything but more the wondering if Peeta will be able to come and rescue me. I just want to be held in his arms again. This is the first night since we’ve been married that I’ve spent without him and I don’t want to ever have to go through this ever again.

I am just starting to drift off to sleep finally when the sound of the tent next to me being opened meets my ears. I sink deeper into the sleeping bag, hoping that it is not the men coming out to retrieve me. I’m so scared right now that my whole body is shaking. I don’t like feeling scared, it makes me feel weak and I don’t like having that feeling inside me. Although ever since I’ve been married to Peeta I’ve learned that it is better to have someone to rely on and that you don’t always have to take care of things yourself.

My keen ears pick up a pair of footsteps, coming from the closest tent, moving towards mine. My fingernails dig into my palms as I squeeze my hands. I don’t want to die, I want to hug and kiss Peeta one last time. We didn’t even get a proper goodbye before I was taken. The footsteps are right outside the tent now and my entire body is shaking so violently and my heart is beating so loudly that I’m afraid the person outside will hear it.

A second later I can see a form directly outside the entrance to my prison tent and I hold my breath. The tent’s zipper is grasped then makes a slight squeaking sound as it is lifted, revealing the person come to get me.

I am just debating whether I should go willingly or try to make a run for it when the man speaks.

“Katniss, are you in there?”

I sit up abruptly at the voice and stare directly into the man’s eyes. The dark blue eyes that I have come to love so much. My voice is caught in my throat so I am unable to respond, but I do slide out of the sleeping bag and crawl over to him. My rescuer.

“Peeta?” I finally get out. He nods fiercely, his eyes shining in the moonlight and his blond bangs in need of a trim bouncing on his forehead. He enters the tent in one swift motion. I launch myself into his outstretched arms, nearly knocking him over and begin kissing him all over his face but eventually make my way to his lips.

He holds me tighter kissing me back, making up for lost time.

“We need to go.” He whispers gruffly after reluctantly pulling himself away from my lips but still keeping me securely in his arms.

“Okay.” I reply weakly, and together we stand up and exit the tent. Finnick is coming quickly from the tent across from this one and we begin walking to meet him.

“Oh good, you found her.” He says breathlessly, giving me a smile.

“And Madge and Annie?” Peeta asks and Finnick shakes his head sadly.

“They must have been taken to another location.” I say quietly.

“Probably. So let’s go find them.” Finnick announces and then I notice Gale standing over two men’s bodies next to the campfire.

I release Peeta’s hand and run up to him.

“You killed them?” I ask, trying to look him in the eye.

“It was necessary to be able to get you out without them alerting the others.” He replies roughly.

“I know, and thank you.” I give him a grateful smile then move in and also give him a quick hug. Peeta and Finnick walk up then and I reattach my hand to Peeta’s.

“We should get out of here before the others wake up.” Finnick says in a hushed voice.

“How many more are there?” I ask.

“Two are asleep in one of the tents over there, but I have a feeling more are close by.” He replies.

“Peeta, how about you take Katniss back to the island and Gale and I’ll look for the girls.”

“Are you kidding me?” I hiss at him. “I’m too tired to swim all the way back in the dark and I am going to help look for my friends.”

“Alright then, let’s go.” Gale sighs, not wanting to argue with me.

We are just exiting the camp when a shout causes us all to stop mid-step and turn around, hands on our belts ready to pull out our weapons if necessary. Sure enough, three big, burly men are making their way towards us, still a little groggy from their slumber. Peeta automatically pushes me behind him protectively and at the same time draws his dagger while the others do the same. It is only now that I realize that Gale has my bow, maybe now he can take one or two of them out before they get close.

“Well well, look who came to rescue their girl, how sweet.” One of the men chuckles, walking slowly nearer and nearer to us, gun pointed and ready to shoot.

“What, did you think we’d just stand around waiting for you to bring her back?” Peeta shouts back. His whole body is tense and I can tell that he is angry, more than he has been in a while. I gently place my hand on his arm and almost immediately he relaxes, but just a little.

“You do know that we’re not just going to let you all walk away right?” The second man says. They are a lot closer now and I wonder why Gale hasn’t even readied the bow yet. It is three against four right now and even though Finnick, Gale and Peeta are in pretty good shape, these other men are just huge, making us the outnumbered ones. All three men have there guns drawn and pointed at us now, and I can only hope that Gale is able to kill at least one of them with the bow before we all die from the deadly bullets.

“I hope you all are ready to die because we’re not giving you a choice tonight.” The man who had not spoken yet says loudly and I cringe. My grip tightens on Peeta’s arm and I share a look with Gale. He nods slightly to me and that is when I know that he has a plan. Hopefully a smart one that will get us all out unscathed. I decide to keep them talking, hoping to keep their focus on me so that Gale will have a chance for whatever he has planned.

“Are you really sure killing us is your best option?” I begin and Finnick gives me a strange look but Gale just smiles.

“Well those are our orders and the captain knows best, so yes, it is.”

“But have you even thought about what you are actually doing?” I push. “I mean, do you have any idea why you are supposed to kill us?”

“We don’t need to know.” The man answers and the other two nod in agreement. I send a quick glance over in Gale’s direction and he is very slowly loading the bow and thankfully the three men don’t seem to notice, yet. So I keep talking, looking to Finnick and Peeta to help me out.

“Have you ever considered the consequences of murdering us all right here?” Peeta puts in and the men exchange glances.

“Doesn’t matter.” One speaks up; who I recognize now as Mr. M. “We follow our orders, no exceptions.”

“And if we kill you first?” Finnick asks with a smirk.

“I don’t think that’ll be happening young man.” Mr. M tells him. We are now standing in a line about 15 feet from the line the three men have made. They still have their guns pointed at us but it doesn’t seem like they are in so much of a hurry now.

Taking a quick peek out of the corner of my eye at Gale again I relax a little because the bow is ready and all he has to do is aim and shoot. It shouldn’t be too hard for him, he should be able to do it in one swift motion, taking down the first guy before they realize what is happening.

It seems like forever and I am beginning to run out of things to talk about with the men to keep them distracted but before I even can comprehend it, an arrow blurs by and imbeds itself in the heart of Mr. M. His eyes go wide and he coughs once, then twice, then falls back onto the sand. A bang from one of the guns fires and we hit the ground hard. I end up biting my lip but try to ignore the stinging and focus on getting away alive and as unhurt as possible. Gale looses another arrow but since he is in an awkward position it only hits the second man in the thigh, causing him to automatically pull the trigger on his gun. Thankfully we’re already on the ground and because he was in pain and shock the bullet went over our heads. Two of the three are now on the ground, one dead, one screaming in pain while watching blood pour from the wound in his leg.

Peeta motions for me to stay low while he rolls over to Gale who is loading another arrow. He fires it but the remaining man sees it coming and dodges it. The arrow lodges itself in a tree behind them.

The man smiles in the moonlight and begins advancing towards us.

“Even if you shoot one of us you’ll be dead before you can do anymore harm!” Gale shouts angrily at him.

“Yes, but then I would have at least completed part of my duty.” He shouts back, now only a few feet from us. Gale has another arrow pointed at him but the man’s gun is now pointed directly at my head. I swallow fearfully and hold my breath, waiting for the first move. Peeta hurries toward me and stands right in front of me. Because I am still on the ground he covers my entire body.

“You’ll have to go through me first!” He yells.

“Oh goodie, two birds with one stone.” The man laughs, his finger dangerously close to the trigger of his weapon.

Then suddenly three things happen at once, Gale releases the arrow, a bang from a gun is heard and someone cries out in pain. I close my eyes, afraid to open them and see what happened and who is dead.

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