Summary: Of course he’d be back now for the holidays. Exodus, I guess they call it. In basic training, they let even the lowest grunts go home for Christmas.
A/N: Modern AU Everlark. Rated E for explicit language, graphic sex, and passing references to drug and alcohol use. A Christmas one shot.
Can be found on AO3 as part of the “101 Ways To Say I Love You” collection, a collaboration with @peeta-pit. Contains direct and revised quotes from The Hunger Games books and films, none of which I own (bummer), and song lyrics by Norah Jones.
For @kellywithayy. Happy extremely belated birthday, chica. ;)
If you’ve enjoyed this story, please drop me a line. I’ll consider it a Christmas present. ;) And happy holidays, wherever this finds you, especially to all members of the Armed Forces and their families. <3c
It’s his mother I see first, in the reflection of my water-spotted spoon, as I hold it up to inspect it for dirt. The curve of the metal shows her how she really is, how I see her, emphasizing her deformities—a cold and shallow woman, who’d always thought, with that over-sized head of hers, that I was never good enough for him, not even as his friend.
What kind of monster thinks that about a kid?
Our booth is in the back corner of the diner—where they seat all the ugly people—and because my back is to the rest of the restaurant, I don’t immediately notice them when they come in and are seated half a dozen tables behind us. By the time I see the bitch, she’s sipping tea out of a chipped porcelain mug, one of her haughty eyebrows raised and her puckered, prematurely wrinkled lips pursed in disapproval as she listens to a man with a buzz cut say something to her.
Subtly, so Prim doesn’t notice me looking, notice her, and then open her big mouth, I rotate the spoon to see who else is with her. Her husband sits next to her and looks none too happy about it, keeping enough distance between them for the Holy Ghost and an entire host of angels. No love lost between those two. And next to him, wedged into the corner, one of his broad shoulders pressed to the wall from lack of space, is their oldest. Across from them, with their backs to mine, is Rye, with his trademark douchebag man bun I’d recognize from outer space, and next to him, on the aisle side of the bench, is the man with the buzz cut.
It doesn’t occur to me right away that it’s Peeta—my Peeta (except he isn’t mine at all)—because Peeta has wavy blond hair that curls at the very ends, feathery wisps that hang over his collar and ears, begging to be clutched and grasped and twirled by curious fingers. (Not that I’d ever had the courage to do any of those things.) He’s had hair like that his entire life—at least for as long as I’ve known him, which amounts to pretty much the same thing—the sign of a boy who has always been careless about his good looks.
His hands give him away, gesturing as he talks. They’re recognizable even in the convex surface of my spoon, and I swallow with effort, dropping it into my coffee. Emptying a plastic cup of creamer into my mug, I swirl, swirl, swirl, trying to erase the memory of the way his hands looked holding mine. I stare down at the cream dispersing, transforming something straightforward and pure into a muddied, adulterated mess.
Of course he’d be back now for the holidays. Exodus, I guess they call it. In basic training, they let even the lowest grunts go home for Christmas.