Chapter 8

Author Notes—PLEASE READ

Hello all, if you read this chapter, you will understand how my life has been going to past few days. What has happened to Del in this chapter has just happened to me. So yes, you could say that things have been a bit rough.

Also, I just want to let you guys know that when I don't update, there are reasons. I just want to thank you all for being so understanding. Sometimes I see stories with readers begging for updates and getting rude and snappy and I just want to thank you all for not doing that to me! It means a lot that you understand that I have a life!

. . .

She had virtually forgotten about him, and could anyone blame her? No, he was an idiot, an idiot only obsessed with himself. Of course, she had other crushes, other flings to fill the void inside of her that opened when Peeta died. She was filling with life again, but little did she know, it would all come crashing down again, very soon.

"Uh oh, trouble on paradise." Rue whispers to me, nodding her head to the door where Delly and Thom stand in a heated argument.

Looking away from them slowly, I shovel another spoonful of my chocolate ice cream into my mouth.

"I'm gonna go do damage control." Johanna sighs from across the table, sliding over Finnick and Annie before running over to the front of the ice cream parlor where Delly and Thom's fight has escalated to muffled yells.

"Do they do this a lot?" I finally break the silence. Gale moves closer to me on the booth, wrapping his arm around my waist protectively. I don't bother shrugging away from his protective grasp; it would only cause a rumble of discomfort in the table around me. I don't fail to see the glare Madge gives me from next to Nick, or the way that he rolls is shoulders back with an unpleasant look on his pale face.

"Nah, they're the perfect couple, I mean Delly nags, and they fake fight all the time, but it's never serious like this. Honestly this is weird." Finnick responds through a bite of ice cream, smiling over at Annie who wipes a smudge of ice cream off his chin with her napkin. It almost makes me sick.

Gale's arm around my waist tightens as he feels my muscles tense up under his reassuring grip.

"What do you think it's about?" Glimmer looks at us before going back to playing with her kitty cat phone case with a distant look on her make up filled face.

"I don't know, Delly just looked down and froze, Thom kinda did the same thing and then next thing I know they're over by the door ready to rip each other's faces off." Nick reaches his spoon over, stealing a bite of my ice cream quickly before I can protest.

"Hey!" I sigh, pulling my cup closer to me.

When we first got to the ice cream parlor everyone was happy, Nick was talking to me about the best kind of ice cream, Rue was hanging on to every word Thresh said about the game, and Johanna was laughing animatedly with the rest of the group. It almost seemed too perfect.

By the time we sat down with our cups of ice cream, the perfection had crumbled quickly. I watched Delly mostly, she was smiling next to Thom, they were arguing over something, but I could care less. Then he rolled up his sleeve as she looked down and she froze. We were the only ones at the table; everyone else was getting their ice cream at the counter.

Delly almost lost it at the table; tears were glistening in her eyes before Thom could even get a word out. I know what she saw. It was the same look Tyler gave Addi when he found her cuts again: pure grief and sadness.

I know what Delly saw, I'd seen it a million times on Addi when her sweatshirts slipped a little too far up or when her sides and thighs were purple with the marks of her own fists. As I watch everyone try to decide what the two are fighting over, I keep my mouth shut. If Delly just found out, there is no way in hell Thom wants anyone else to know.

As I finish the last few bites of my ice cream, I yawn, leaning my head down onto Gale's comfortable shoulder. He shifts down lower in the seat, allowing me complete access to his shoulder and chest. I sigh down low into him, only closing my eyes for a few seconds at a time.

Everyone else at the small table is too preoccupied with the fight to notice my shift in position. Everyone except Madge. She just sits and stares at me with a look that could kill. I honestly don't care; I just stare back, challenging her through narrowed eyes. Just as I expected she backs off, excusing herself to the bathroom.

"Really Kat?" Gale chuckles, looking down at me with raised eyebrows.

"What?" I shrug my shoulders, wiggling out of his grasp.

"You could be a little nicer, it's not like you need to claim me or anything." He smirks down at me, shaking his head slightly at my crazed antics.

I only roll my eyes, passing the rest of my uneaten ice cream to Nick who pulls it close to him, consuming it at a ravenous pace. Chuckling slightly I turn back to Gale, smiling up at him with sleepy eyes.

"Are you tired? Because we can leave." He asks quickly, looking around the table to the rest of the group that sits in quiet conversations. It seems that with Delly gone, the life of the group has gone too. Her loud voice no longer demands attention from those around her.

I look back to where they still stand arguing by the door. Delly still looks shocked, and her arms are crossed over her stomach as if, at any second, she is going to lose the contents of her stomach. Johanna's eyes are narrowed and she glares at Thom, whispering something hurriedly at him.

Thom's expression is unreadable; he stands with one arm on the metal door handle, slightly turned to talk to the shocked pair with a blank stare. Delly says something else and looks at him with pleading eyes but he ignores her, looking back out into the parking lot. Without a word more, he pushes open the door, exiting briskly to the dismay of Delly and Johanna.

As I watch the scene unfold I can't help but feel a pang of sadness for Delly. One look at the two of them and you can tell how close they are. The way he looks at her makes the world seem to stop spinning. It's like everything around him disappears and he only has eyes for her. It's the way Peeta looked at me.

We only fought a few times, but when we did they were always awful. He was one of the few people who could make me cry. He didn't like that, but it was how much he meant to me. The worst fight was the four year anniversary of my father's death.

I didn't know what I was doing, I was fifteen, invincible. The pain was just so rough and I couldn't help it.

I broke into the liquor cabinet, drank until I couldn't feel my body anymore. It's a wonder I didn't die of alcohol poisoning. It was so stupid. I didn't think of the consequences, I just knew that there were two people that I didn't want to find me. Prim and Peeta; they couldn't find me.

I thought I did a damn good job of hiding, but apparently I didn't. Within two hours of being completely hammered, the door to my closet opening and lo and behold, Peeta stood in my doorway, looking at me with anger that could counter a bear without her cubs. I guess I'm a very vocal drunk.

I can still remember how mad he was, how he yelled at me for being so irresponsible. He left that night in a storm of fury. Peeta wasn't supposed to act like that. He was supposed to be forgiving and understanding, but I guess I pushed the limit. I cried until I couldn't cry another tear. The hangover hurt like hell, and I threw up almost all morning. But when I woke up and ran to the bathroom for the first wave of sickness he was there. He knew how bad my hangover would be and, despite his anger, came to take care of me.

I never drank again after that. I still haven't.

I turn back to Delly, watching the tears flow from her eyes. I guess the party's over, right? Everyone else has the same idea because Annie and Finn stand first, pushing away from the table. In a few seconds all the girls have crowded around Delly, giving her hugs and soft smiles. I stay back with Madge, and despite her glare I try to be nice, and I smile over at her.

"I'm Katniss by the way; I don't think I've properly introduced myself." My voice is sickeningly sweet, and it almost nauseates me with its syrupy fakeness.

"Im Madge." She whispers back shyly, taking my hand in a weak handshake.

She isn't as bad as I imagined her to be. By the way she glares at me, I almost expected her to be one of those fake overly sweet chicks that everyone likes. Part of me wants to like her, just because she seems to stray from the group. But then my protective part tells me to keep her at a distance, after all, Gale is my best friend, not hers.

Nick looks out the window, probably looking for Thom, but he's long gone.

"I'm going to go after him." He finally announces to the group, pushing his way to the door. As he leaves, following Thom's lead, I realize I still have his sweatshirt on.

"Wait Nick." I call out after him, chasing him out the door.

He stops in his tracks, turning to face me in the blinking light of the ice cream parlor and the pale full moon.

"Yeah?" he turns to smile at me, and I bask in the glow of his smile. It isn't often that someone smiles so genuinely at me. It's nice for a change. It reminds me of Peeta.

"I still have you sweatshirt." I remind him, moving to take it off when I'm startled with his firm "no".

"Keep it, wouldn't want you to get cold or anything." He smiles, running to his car in the far lot of the parking space.

As he pulls away and the light of the yellow white headlights flashes over me, I can't help but smile. Who is this person inside of me? She sure as hell isn't the Katniss that left McPherson a few short weeks ago. I'm learning to live again, with or without Peeta.

I watch Nick go, wondering if maybe he is my next step, maybe he will be the one that helps me to forget why I stopped loving in the first place. The little voice in the back of my head tells me that he won't be, but I ignore it, along with the pictures of the blond asshole from earlier. I can't afford to hide again.

"Kat, there you are." The bell above the door dings as Gale steps out onto the sidewalk next to me, the cool wind ripping holes through the both of us.

"Yeah, I was just-"he cuts me off, noticing the blush that I try to hide.

"Its fine Catnip, I understand. You have a crush." He sing-songs at me, smirking his signature smirk plastered across his face.

"Shut up asshole." I shove him back in the direction of the door. As we walk back in, I begin to wonder, would it be such a bad thing if I did have a crush?

It was a crush, maybe a little one, maybe a big one. No one really knew what to expect from her. It was new, but it was bound to be interesting. But when things started to crumble around her, her crush was nowhere to be found. But someone else was; someone that would someday turn into something bigger than a crush.

Chapter Notes

I promise you that Cato action will be in the next chapter. We will get to catch a glimpse of Katniss at a party, which should be really interesting to write! I'm excited to get the Kato heated up, I really don't like Nick.

So, if you are still reading this, tell me what you think of Nick! I would really like to hear what you have to say. I'm sure he's going to get plenty of hate.

Love to All,


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