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Just as he got back to his room and hid behind the door, he heard an almost unearthly shriek from his mom. He peeked his head around the door to watch his daddy try to separate his brothers , while his mom threw whatever she could get her hands on at them, screaming the whole time. Peeta quickly retreated further into his room, sat on the floor and covered his ears until his daddy came and got him. It wasn't until dinner time that he saw his brothers again. They both had bruises and scrapes all over them. Some were from each other, others were clear indentations from the implements their mom had thrown at them.

Peeta's daddy watched his brothers warily, but didn't say anything. Mom had taken to her bed, stating that she had a headache. Dinner was pretty quiet, until Peeta saw that one of his bothers jumped a little, as if he had been kicked. Then the other one did. All of a sudden they were smiling at each other and laughing at talking about school, as if nothing had ever happened between them. Peeta watched, fascinated, and wondered if all relationships could be mended that quickly.

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By the time Peeta was eleven, he knew that not all fights finished that quickly, or that cleanly. He sat at the bakery's table, head hung low as his mother screamed about how useless he was, how he was the biggest mistake she had ever made. She slammed the rolling pin on the table almost in time with her screams, and Peeta flinched, still feeling the sting across his cheek.


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His father tried to calm her, only to have her redirect the rage she felt onto him. It was not until she started yelling about his father encouraging the "Seam trash" at their bakery, and that was what probably had distracted Peeta into burning the bread, did he finally look up. His mother couldn't know that he had given the bread to Katniss, that he had burned it for her.

He could take his mother's wrath. He would not let her punish Katniss and her family as well.

Dad said he would start letting me decorate the cakes soon. I wasn't paying attention.

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I'm sorry. His mother gave him a look of contempt, and muttered something about him not being fit to decorate a dog biscuit, let alone a cake. Peeta's father plastered a smile on his face, and moved to embrace his wife. No harm done. The boy's apologized, and I'm sure he won't do it again. Peeta's mother snorted in derision and elbowed her husband hard in the ribs. She walked out, leaving father and son staring at each other. Peeta just continued to stare at his dad "Why do you stay, dad? Peeta nodded. Sometimes, she's worse. She's waiting for you to apologize again, and ' make it right'.

We'll talk later. I've got to get back to work. Gotta make up for some bread I burnt. Relationships were hard. They didn't always work , even when the couple claimed to love each other- his parents were obvious proof of that. Peeta didn't know if he would find some one to grow old with; wasn't sure if he even wanted to.

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What he was sure of though, was that he could move people with his words. He saw it with the girls at school. He could have them eating out of his hands if he wanted them to. It was a power that he knew he couldn't take advantage of, but could use to help him, a way to make a connection to people.

He may not have someone to be with, but at least he had his words. Everything was burning around him. He could hear Katniss calling for him, screaming his name as the fire ripped through the arena. Peeta tried to run for her, silently praying that he would reach her before the other tributes did.

He could already hear them rustling through the jungle all around him.

But when he attempted to move, he felt rooted in place. Peeta looked down, to find his feet stuck in the foliage. When he tried to lift his foot, he found he was sinking into the ground, a sandy bank that was as thick as the molasses he sometimes used in his bread at home.

The more he struggled, the faster he sank, and soon the gunk was up to his knees. Peeta heard Katniss scream again; when he tried to call back to her, to call for help, he found he could not make a sound. Panic began to set in, as the heat of the fire came closer and the bushes around Peeta began to rustle again. All he could do now was close his eyes and hope for a quick death Peeta found himself in Katniss' bed, sitting up straight and sweat pouring off his body, his throat feeling dry and raw.

Katniss was next to him, gripping his arm, murmuring "Not real, not real, not real. He wasn't sure if she was trying to reassure him or herself, he wasn't even sure if he cared. Peeta closed his eyes and let out a soft breath. At least, partially. After you and Johanna left to set up Beetee's trap. You called out for me? Katniss' expression melted from surprise to confusion mixed with another emotion Peeta daren't name for fear of being wrong. Even if my memories of you were hijacked, they haven't been exactly clear cut. I've been back in Twelve for a month, and I still don't know exactly.

I need to know what you're thinking, Katniss. If I don't, I fill in the gaps myself, and , while that worked for me before the hijacking, I haven't been doing the greatest job of it since. Peeta shrugged. Whatever this is between us, whatever we're doing , needs to meet my needs too. I'm going to be here for you, Katniss. Whatever you need. But, I'm going to need to talk sometimes. Katniss got the stubborn look on her face, the one Peeta had seen for years , even before the Hunger Games. The one that meant that she was not going to capitulate without a fight. So if this is an ultimatum Peeta let out a snort.

All I'm asking is that you try. And, no. It's not an ultimatum. Think of it as a request. No expectations, other than me having a sounding board to bounce my thoughts of off. Katniss looked at Peeta for a long time, tightened her jaw, and then nodded curtly.

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Katniss gave a curt nod, and turned away from Peeta, pulling the covers almost over her head. Peeta sighed and settled down for the night, having a feeling that he wouldn't be getting much sleep that night. Apparently, he was wrong; Peeta must have fallen asleep for a little while because the next time he woke, the sun was streaming into Katniss' room, and Katniss was no longer next to him.

Peeta cautiously walked into the kitchen in Katniss' home, but there were no signs of her being in the house, Peeta wasn't surprised, he knew that if he pushed Katniss in any way, her instinct was to give herself space before tackling the problem at hand. In this case, how to handle Peeta. If he was honest, that wasn't anything new either. Peeta felt his teeth grit and his hands clench as a vision of a much harsher Katniss. One that could lure him to her with kisses and sweet words, and then harshly lead him into the force field in the Quarter Quell, only to have Finnick bring him back to life.

Peeta dug his finger nails deeper into the fleshy part of his palm. Katniss tried to warn you about the force field. You didn't hear her.