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Hunger Games Fic: So I Stayed in the Darkness with You

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Aug. 18th, 2012 | 04:15 am
mood: awake
music: Come Home - CHAPPO

Title: So I Stayed in the Darkness with You
Fandom: The Hunger Games
Rating: K+
Characters: Peeta Mellark, Madge Undersee
Summary: She is unmarred in his mind. She is something true. / After being rescued from the Capitol, Peeta receives a visit from someone he used to know. Platonic Madge/Peeta set during MJ. Oneshot.


It's bright in this room. It's always too bright.

They never keep him in darkness as though if he's left unwatched for too long, he'll sprout into something they cannot control. Though most days, Peeta's sure he's already past that point. He tries to shut his eyes against the overhead stream of fluorescent light, but it doesn't help; closing his eyes welcomes in nightmares, opening them greets reality. There's no relief found in either.

"Hi, Peeta."

His eyes immediately open. He knows that voice. It doesn't belong with him in this room or this district, but there's no mistaking its owner.

He shifts his weight, writhing onto his elbows and into almost a sitting position, the leather ties on his wrist not exactly giving. He blinks her into focus. Her strands of wavy blonde hair flow down her shoulders, the color honey would be in the sun—but there's no sunlight here.

"Madge."

He's not sure how long it's been since he's last seen her face. Her expression is as he remembers it—beauty and stone, secrets reserved behind a pair of blue eyes. He watches her amble toward him, the drab District 13 uniform he's seen on the others hanging loose on her tall, slender frame.

Unexpected relief washes over him. For the first time, he's seen a face he can call a friend. He watches her eyes stray to where his arms are bound by his sides.

"They think I'm crazy," he murmurs. Like he did this to himself. Like he wants to be this monster that can't even remember his childhood properly. Like he enjoys being a boy now made of madness.

When she remains silent his eyes narrow, the relief quickly morphing into suspicion. His words fly out faster than he can catch them. "They sent you here because of her, didn't they? Katniss killed my family, Madge. Yours, too. Our home. Everyone we knew!"

"Peeta," she begins. Her tone is so serene and he kind of really hates it. "That's not true. You love—"

"No, it was her. That...that mutt!"

"Do you really believe that?"

But this New Peeta doesn't know what to believe so he does the only thing he can under her unnervingly steady gaze. He screams and thrashes and barks at her to leave. He turns away so sharply, the restraints tug at his wrists and a pain surges past his skin and down to his bones.

He doesn't hear the door, but he knows she's gone.

~

They send her in a couple days later.

Peeta's not sure what to say to her. His mind tells him there used to be a time where they could tell each other everything, but that time is as long gone as their dead district. And his mind hasn't exactly been reliable lately.

"I don't know what's real anymore," he mutters through his teeth, not all that sure the words are even meant for her. "And they all look at me like I'm broken."

His body is strained with an indescribable ache—it's there in his eyes, in his chest, his mind, in all that he is and all that remains of him. No matter how long they induce his sleep for, he's never rested. The weight of all that's happened is enough to keep him awake for years.

He looks up to catch her wandering around the room, her feet gliding gracefully along like the concrete floor was made for waltzing.

"We grew up in Panem," she supplies softly, pausing by a machine whose purpose remains unknown. She gazes at the funny little dials before turning to face him. She tilts her head to the side, her face carved of patience like she's studying him in search of meaning. "Maybe we were all a little broken to begin with."

She shrugs and says it in a gently offhand way like her words didn't just save his life a little.

He lets her stay after that.

~

They sit in silence for what feels like hours sometimes, but Peeta's never certain. Time has grown into something he can no longer accurately grasp. He thinks of cells and white walls and needles and pain (God, there was so much pain) and doesn't think he should be blamed for this. He also thinks this place isn't much different from where he was kept in the Capitol, but he doesn't say that. He's found the more he says, the less they like, and the less they like, the more he finds himself strapped down and probed and forced to answer questions he doesn't know the answers to. Yeah. It's really not that much different from the Capitol.

He's surprised they let her stay this long, but since she's usually just in a chair by his bed with a book and he hasn't lashed out at her again, they must figure she's harmless.

The door opens and he flexes his arms to realize his wrists aren't tied down today. A guard comes in with a meal and Peeta takes one look at the forlorn bowl of murky cold soup and turns away.

"Let her have it," he mumbles, his gaze determinedly fixated on a spot on the wall. "I'm not hungry."

The attendant gives Peeta a quizzical look like he has a trick up his sleeve as he nods towards Madge, but takes Peeta's dismissive tone as a cue to back out of the room. He leaves the single tray there anyway. Peeta receives the distinct feeling that he's probably gone to scribble something down on a clipboard.

Something about it doesn't sit right with Peeta, and an indescribable flash of rage rises to the surface and spills over. Before he can think to stop himself, he flings his arm out, striking the bowl. The contents splatter against the wall and trickle down as its home clatters to the ground.

His mind is a muddled mixture of clarity and confusion. He can't explain this sudden rush of loss and anger.

"They stole me. They stole everything."

His fists slam against the wall like beating at it can bring back the dead, bring back who he used to be. He fights until his lungs burn and his fists ache and his energy is gone like everything else he never got to keep. He slides down to a crouching position, his forehead leaning defeated against the wall.

There's an eerie silence rid only by his heaving breaths until a small hand on his shoulder makes him flinch. He forgot he isn't alone.

Madge stoops down next to him, tears in her eyes and tragedy suddenly written all over her face. In a voice that's both wavering and indestructible, she whispers like she has a secret.

"They stole me, too."

He feels his eyebrows furrow and his mouth open, but before his lips can form a response, the door has opened and a needle has been inserted into his veins. His body immediately droops, his eyelids feeling heavier than the whole world.

~

It's not until later, when he's roused and blinking the blackness away, that her words sink in. Beads of cold sweat stick to his forehead and he unclenches the fistful of sheets from his fingertips. She's by his side like always.

"Madge?"

"Yes, Peeta?"

His voice is hoarse, but hers is strong.

And it catches up to him—the puzzled looks he gets when he's caught speaking to her, the way nobody addresses her but him. The way she doesn't seem to exist outside this room.

"You're not really here, are you?"

He can't bring himself to say aloud what he really thinks she is. To associate Madge and her strength and gentleness and beauty with something so dark and finite. A word that makes her nothing more than ashes and a memory. Another piece of his life lost—or stolen, he can't quite decide which, because no matter the label it won't change that essentially she's still another piece slipping through his fingers—Not real, not here, just gone, gone, gone.

She blinks at him for a moment before the corner of her mouth slightly rises in a half-smile—the sadness of it is all the affirmation he needs.

And suddenly she's crying again, her expression fractured and exposed—a sight the Madge he knew would hardly let her guard down long enough to let him see.

She's not real, he tells himself, but he finds himself reaching out to her anyway. He goes to swipe the tears from her cheeks; he feels nothing and his fingertips come away dry.

"Don't leave." He hears the words before he acknowledges he's the one who said them. But real or not real, he really didn't want to be alone. He didn't want to see her go. Even if she was gone already…

"I have to sometime. You have to get better sometime."

Peeta scoffs.

"What's 'better'?" he snaps, the words barreling towards her like some kind of ammunition. Because this New Peeta does that: suddenly hisses things with malice and doesn't bother with common courtesies like the word please unless it's to beg for the room to stop spinning. He swears it has nothing to do with the fact healing won't mean anything if she's really gone forever. Even in his fractured mindset, he immediately knows that's a lie.

He takes a moment to look up at her, his anger deflating under her gaze. "Say you'll stay."

Her voice is calm and clear, as steady as he always remembered her to be. "As long as you need."

She takes a seat at his side, her hand finding his shoulder and giving it a soft squeeze as her legs dangle off the edge of the bed. She rakes her fingers through his hair, an affectionate gesture that hasn't been repeated since they were two Merchant kids with the kind of loneliness nobody would expect them to share. He doesn't feel her, but he swears she's the realest thing he's ever known.

"Talk to me," he sighs. "Tell me…anything that doesn't have to do with District 13 and these damned white walls."

Her eyes light up in an instant. "Remember when you tried to teach me how to bake?" This Madge grins, and he realizes how much he missed seeing her smile. "That was a perfect day."

He remembers flour everywhere—on the counter, in her hair. He remembers the laughter that tumbled out of her like music, like something sweet, like something that could save him. The memory floods him and he realizes she is one of the only parts of his life left unmarred in his mind. She is something true.

"Yeah…" His fingers encompass her nonexistent palm, his hand snakes into her not-really-there one. "Yeah, it was."

They stay like this—an altered boy and his image of the girl he grew up with. He's peaceful like this, almost feels a fraction of normal like this.

~

He still gets it, though: the overwhelming urge to attack, to scream, to lash out—anything to expel this rage he can't describe from his nightmares and into the world he's still not sure if he can call reality.

Whenever he feels gripped by what the doctors are now referring to as 'episodes', he sees her hand on his cheek, willing him to come back. He doesn't feel her, but she knows she's there. At least to him. He can't trust his dreams or his waking world thoughts, but he can trust her. Her memory, her ghost—whatever she is, he can trust her.

Fight it, Peeta, Madge asks of him. Fight what the Capitol did to you. And for her, and for him, and for everything that was lost, he tries.

So when they come in to tell him about Delly, to say maybe seeing someone from his past might help, his eyes stray to Madge. The doctors' eyes follow his and see nothing.

Peeta laughs.

~

Author's Note: So…yeah. I really don't know when Underlark became my angsty brotp, but it has happened and I'm not sorry. I'm going to try to post more oneshots and maybe a longer fic if I ever decide I'm satisfied with it before school starts.

Thanks for reading—reviews are love!


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Comments {2}

coeurdesoleil

(no subject)

from: coeurdesoleil
date: Aug. 18th, 2012 03:14 pm (UTC)
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This was dark and sad and angsty, but there's also an undertone of hope to it, and I really liked that. Very nice!

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Johanna

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from: reverie_405
date: Aug. 18th, 2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! :)

I need to start writing happier fic lol.

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