Title: hum a few bars (i may know the tune)
Fandom: The Hunger Games
Rating: PG-13/T
Spoilers: The entire series, Mockingjay in particular.
Summary: Peeta and Johanna after the war.
Notes: Filled for the prompt "Johanna/Peeta, never saw you coming" over at the Girl on Fire Ficathon.



After Coin's funeral, demolition work in the Capitol begins. Johanna watches at the window of her room in the president's mansion as crews pull down entire streets, moving methodically in gridded sections: an avenue of trashed restaurants and clubs in one row, a cluster of raided shops in the next. The bombed remains of buildings crumple like soldiers before a firing squad, leaving chunks of rubble shaped like broken teeth. It's a fucking waste of time.

There are gaping ravines that yawned wide and swallowed people whole, an entire infrastructure of tunnels and mutts and slaughter that runs much deeper than the fault lines in the pavement, and burying it with the broken body of the city won't unsnarl it into something that can be fixed.

But she understands that it's only human to try.


*


He finds her curled in an armchair, a plastic line trailing from her arm to an IV drip.

"Thought they weaned you off the morphling," he says.

"Oh, they did." The edges of Johanna's smile could slice steel. "This isn't morphling."

"I'd tell you that Dr. Aurelius wouldn't approve, but I know you don't care."

"Smart boy. If it makes you feel any better, it's just something to keep me awake."

She doesn't elaborate because she knows Peeta understands not wanting to go to sleep. He opens his mouth, then pauses, like he's rethinking his words.

Just as she's wondering bemusedly if he's going to lecture her anyway, he says, "Mind sharing?"

Funny, she thinks, how they never got to mentor any Games together. Not together as a team, of course, but crowded in the same lounge nonetheless, eyes locked to the screen, waiting for the next cannon boom. Breaking away to self-medicate when they aren't needed anymore. (Maybe this part was always inevitable.)

Without a word Johanna slides the needle into a fat vein in the crook of his elbow, then settles back and waits.

When his mouth drops open and his eyes widen, she drawls, "Oh, did I not tell you? Well. I never said being awake had to be boring."


*


He sketches as part of his recuperation process, and it's interesting enough to watch that she seeks him out when she blows off her own therapy sessions. After the first few times, he starts picking spots where they can sit together comfortably, as good an invitation as any. She talks to him if he's idly doodling but says nothing if he's drawing in earnest. Sometimes she brings food when he's skipped a meal, making sure she bumps his elbow with hers so he looks up to see her smirk before pointedly handing him a roll or pastry.

Once, after he gets tired and sets his notebook aside, she picks it up, flips through. Most of the sketches have anonymous subjects, but there are familiar sights from time to time: the hospital ward in District 13, shells on the beach, a darkened compartment on the train. His style is erratic, ranging from messy strokes to pinpoint precision.

Johanna stops on one page and stares. Swallows hard, mouth suddenly dry.

"Is that…?"

Peeta leans over to look, crowding into her space without realizing it. His cheeks flush. "Yeah, um -- yeah. I think about things more clearly when I narrow my focus. You know, concentrate on parts of them at a time." (She thinks about all the implications of this, wonders if he has too.)

The arc of light glinting off the blade mimics steel so exactly that Johanna half expects the paper to weigh much more, the grain of the wooden handle roughly drawn but as unmistakable as the hand that grips it. She runs a finger over the knob of the slender wrist, tracing the black lines of the arm that extends to the bottom right corner of the page. Even in black and white, the drawing is dynamic, expertly shaded so that it looks like weapon and arm were captured mid-swing.

When she finally looks up, he meets her gaze directly, eyes bright. She responds by tugging his collar forward and crushing her lips to his.


*


Vaguely, some part of her recognizes the irony in this. The Mockingjay blazed to ash and blew away, leaving the boy who forgot her to the feral girl no one wants to remember. And Johanna can't resist sinking into him, raking angry red lines down his back and drawing blood from his lip between her teeth. She isn't strong enough to snap his bones, but when she has the energy she still leaves scattered bruises unfurling in the shape of her hands. If he minds, he never says so. Afterwards, she always presses her lips to the marks as if she's branding them in place, catching the salt of his sweat on her tongue.

It should feel like she's inheriting secondhand, in more ways than one. At the very least, it should maybe feel a little like revenge, or remind her of how much she hated Katniss Everdeen, once.

Whenever she touches Peeta, though, she thinks of their shared wall, of how they were never moved from their cells to be tortured. She'd watched them wheel the television set down the hall, listened to them fight him into a chair and dose the venom, heard him weep and choke and yell. In a way, she was there when the Capitol unmade him. Brought him back to scratch by breaking everything left in him that was whole. And he was there when they hooked her up and threw the switch, pulping her insides like the electric current was strong enough to force the pieces of her back together into something usable.

(So maybe this, now, is more like staking claim to something that never did or would belong to Katniss at all.)


*


"They've discharged me," he says, then pauses. "I'm going back to District 12."

"I figured." The slant of her mouth almost passes for a sneer.

"Take care of yourself, Jo."

"Say hi to the old drunk and the roasted bird for me."

She lets herself be gathered into a hug, bracing her hands on his shoulders like she's prepared to push him away if he won't let go but turning her face inwards so that her forehead presses to the corner of his jaw, her lips barely grazing his neck.

(Maybe he already knows, but she doesn't tell him that she keeps his sketch in her jacket pocket with a handful of pine needles.)
 
 
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