….”Because I don’t want you to forget how different our circumstances are. If you die and I live, there’s no life for me at all back in District Twelve. You’re my whole life,” he says.”I would never be happy again.” I start to object but he puts a finger to my lips. “It’s different for you. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be hard. But there are other people who would make your life worth living.”
Peeta pulls the chain with the gold disk from around his neck. He holds it in the moonlight so I can clearly see the mockingjay. Then his thumb slides along the catch I didn’t notice before and the disk pops open. It’s not solid, as I had thought, but a locket. And within the locket are photos. On the right side, my mother and Prim, laughing. And on the left, Gale. Actually smiling.
There is nothing in the world that could break me faster at this moment than these three faces. After what I heard this afternoon…it is the perfect weapon.
“Your family needs you. Katniss” Peeta says.
My family. My mother. My sister. And my pretend cousin Gale. But Peeta’s intention is clear. That Gale really is family, or will be one day, if I live. That I’ll marry him. So Peeta’s giving me his life and Gale at the same time. To let me know I shouldn’t ever have doubts about it. Everything. That’s what Peeta wants me to take from him.
I wait for him to mention the baby, to play to the cameras, but he doesn’t. And that’s how I know that none of this is part of the game.
“No one really needs me,” he says, and there is no self-pity in his voice. It’s true his family doesn’t need him. They will mourn him, as will a handful of friends. But they will get on. Even Haymitch, with the help of a lot of white liquor, will get on. I realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me.
“I do,” I say. “I need you.” He looks, takes a deep breath as if to begin a long argument, and it’s no good, no good at all, because he’ll start going on about Prim and my mother and everything and I’ll just get confused. So before he can talk, I stop his lips with a kiss.
I feel that thing again. The thing I’ve only felt once before. In the cave last year, when I was trying to get Haymitch to send us food. I kissed Peeta about a thousand times during those Games and after. But there was only one kiss that made me feel something stir deep inside. Only one that made me want more. But my head wound started bleeding and he made me lie down.
This time, there is nothing to interrupt us. And after a few attempts, Peeta gives up on talking. The sensation inside me grows warmer and spreads out from my chest, down through my body, out along my legs, to the tips of my being. Instead of satisfying me, the kisses have the opposite effect, of making my need greater. I thought I was something of an expert on hunger, but this is an entirely new kind.”