Katniss rolled her eyes for the tiniest of moments before plastering on the most polite smile she could muster and made her way over to the receptionist. “I’m Katniss? Katniss Everdeen…?”
The woman blinked curiously at Katniss, clearly oblivious to her mispronunciation. “Oh yes, dear, that’s you! Well, come on.” She gestured for Katniss to follow her down a long hallway, teetering on five-inch heels and prattling on. “Lots of appointments today, you know! No time to waste. It’s a big, big, big day for our new partner!” Katniss was so taken aback by the statement that she almost bumped into the receptionist when the woman stopped in front of one of the open doorways.
“Wh-wh-what? Wait, I’m not seeing Dr. Abernathy?” The rising panic threatened to close her throat.
The receptionist shook her fluorescent curls emphatically. “Goodness, no, my dear! Haymitch retired last month. Didn’t you get our postcard? But, don’t worry! Dr. Mellark is very good. Our patients all love him! Now, here we are! Our hygienist will be with you in just a second.”
Katniss found herself alone in a fairly large and airy exam room that was painted a pale shade of her favorite green. The tone was soothing, though not quite comforting enough to quell the nerves in the pit of her stomach. For a person who rarely revealed her emotions, other than to scowl in disapproval, it felt extra unsettling to Katniss that she could do little to hide her fear of visiting the dentist. Her hands trembled mildly as a blond woman came in and took her purse, setting it on the counter. In a bubbly voice, she told Katniss to have a seat.
Katniss swallowed heavily as the hygienist wrapped a blood pressure monitor around her arm. She took slow, long breaths, trying to steady her nerves as the monitor gradually squeezed and retracted. She noticed an engraved name tag on the other woman’s Pepto-Bismol pink scrubs: Delly. “117 over 92. Perfect!” Delly chirped. She pulled off the monitor abruptly, and Katniss flinched at the loud crackle of the velcro strap.
“Um.” Katniss spoke up as she heard the opening and closing of drawers behind her, followed by the clanging of metal instruments being laid out. “Why did you need my blood pressure?”
“Well, nothing to worry about, but we don’t want any issues with bleeding or anything we inject into the mouth. Better safe than sorry, you know?”
“Injections. Right.” Katniss squeezed her eyes shut as her voice trailed off and her mind began to race.
“For the novocaine, of course,” Delly replied, confirming what Katniss already knew. “Just sit tight; I’ll be right back with Dr. Mellark and we can get started. Don’t go anywhere!” Wishing she could do just that, Katniss instead slumped down in her chair once she was left alone. But she knew she couldn’t ignore the pain her tooth was giving her, either. Taking a deep breath, she began coaching herself. If she could skin a squirrel without flinching, she certainly could handle the poke of a needle. All she had to do was breathe.
“Hello there… and how are we doing today?” A deep voice broke Katniss out of her conversation with herself. Behind her, she could hear the dentist tapping at the computer on the counter.
“F-f-fine,” she said, trying to overcome the flutter in her voice.
“Good to hear,” he responded. “I’m Dr. Mellark. I understand you saw Dr. Abernathy right before he retired? Says here in your notes you have a cavity we’re going to take care of this morning.”
“Mmmm-hmmm,” Katniss gritted out nervously between pursed lips.
The hygienist appeared to her left once more, settling onto a stool beside the exam chair. “Delly will be assisting me this morning,” the dentist continued. “First, she’s going to numb you a little with a topical, so you won’t feel the needle as much.”
Delly instructed Katniss to open her mouth, and inserted what looked like a cotton swab, rubbing it against Katniss’s gumline. The tingling sensation which followed gave way to… nothing. Not so bad, she told herself. For a moment, she thought she might have been overreacting to her anxious thoughts.
Suddenly, however, the chair began to recline, and Katniss no longer felt reassured. Instead she felt small and vulnerable, flat on her back. It would be hard to run from this without the high likelihood of kicking either the dentist or his assistant in the process.
Peering up and over her forehead, and vaguely considering another plan of escape, Katniss watched the dentist as he spoke. “Okay, you should be pretty numb by now. However, I’m still going to need to inject you with some local anaesthetic. Everyone still calls it novocaine. We use something newer, but the idea is the same.”
Katniss didn’t respond. She wasn’t quite sure how the shift, the one that had suddenly silenced her, had taken place. All she knew was that her gut-wrenching nerves had practically dissolved, replaced with something new in the depths of her stomach. The moment she’d craned her neck for a good look at the dentist was also the moment she realized how good-looking he was. Or at least, the rear view of him. Katniss found her attention drawn like a magnet to the way the dentist’s light blue scrubs snugly stretched across his broad back and firm ass, revealing a well-defined body. As Dr. Mellark turned around, Katniss quickly swiveled her head back to focus her attention on the ceiling. Her face flushed with intense heat as she realized she’d been ogling the new dentist’s backside. Unfortunately, Katniss had nowhere to hide. Dr. Mellark was now hovering over her. Her nerves returned in full force, but for what reason - fear or something else - Katniss wasn’t quite certain.
“Ready?” he asked her.
Katniss reluctantly looked at Dr. Mellark.
He was just as good-looking from the front as he was from the back.
The thick blond hair that she thought was close-cropped from behind actually fell in longish waves over his forehead. The dark-rimmed glasses he wore merely seemed to accentuate, rather than obscure, a pair of mesmerizing carolina blue eyes. Beneath the lenses, those eyes gleamed with something that made Katniss’s cheeks bloom with warmth yet again. He had a ridiculously chiseled jaw and full lips. And then, Dr. Mellark smiled to reveal a set of perfect white teeth. Of course, Katniss thought with a mental roll of her eyes.
“We’re all set, Peeta,” said Delly.
The dentist reached across to take a syringe from his colleague. “Okay, Katniss, I’m just going to raise the chair a bit to get a better look, then I’ll administer the anaesthetic.” The hum of the chair couldn’t drown out the pounding of her chest as his arm brushed hers. “There’s gonna be a pinch now, okay?”
As he peered down at her through his glasses, she couldn’t stop staring at his eyelashes. They were so long they brushed the lenses. The pleasant thought vanished quickly, though, replaced by sharp discomfort as Dr. Mellark injected the anaesthetic into her mouth. Katniss winced, and although the dentist was certainly focused on his work, he still seemed to sense her distress. “Almost done,” he whispered soothingly. Katniss tried to calm herself by taking a sharp breath in through her nose, and she caught the whiff of something that oddly resembled cinnamon and… was that dill?
Dr. Mellark sat up and handed the syringe back to his assistant.
“How is that? You okay?” If she didn’t know better, he said it almost too gently, with the familiarity of someone who knew her much better than a dentist knows a new patient. Somehow, though, the thought of his concern comforted her rather than weirded her out. Katniss nodded gratefully at him and he smiled warmly.
“All right then. How about I give you a little drill and fill now?”
Immediately, Katniss’s mind was flooded with a mental image of her new dentist.
In her bedroom.
Wearing nothing but those damn glasses.
A little drill and fill, indeed.
Katniss let out a small choked sound, which the assistant assumed was from excess saliva. Delly stuck the suction into Katniss’s mouth and she smiled around it as best she could in fake gratitude. Little did either of the people working on her mouth know she was reacting to the dentist’s choice of words, not to mention the tingle between her legs and the subsequent warm rush flooding her panties. She prayed she could resist rubbing her thighs together to pacify the ache. She screamed at herself in her head, admonishing her body for its betrayal. She was about to get a fucking filling. How could she possibly find this to be a turn on?
Maybe it was the way Dr. Mellark’s muscles stretched and strained as he reached up and around to tie his surgical mask in place. The short sleeves crept up as he raised his arms, revealing taut, thick biceps; and as the neckline of his scrubs puckered in the front, Katniss caught just the tiniest glimpse of dark blond chest hair. She imagined pulling his scrubs off him, the motion messing up his hair to look even sexier. She pictured the muscles that lay beneath. The broad, firm pecs that she imagined were an extra sensitive area of his body. She wanted to use her thumbs to tease his nipples, to see if she could coax a fervent moan from his mouth. She successfully fought the urge to squirm in her seat, but she throbbed again and again at the thought of the man seated to her right.
Sensing the tension in her body, but misunderstanding the cause, Dr. Mellark did the one thing she wanted but the last thing Katniss needed at that moment. He touched her, placing a reassuring hand on top of hers. His hands were big, strong, warm, and likely capable of many talents, she mused wistfully. “Relax,” he murmured. Katniss let out another breath and tried to do as he asked as he turned on the dental drill.
“The anaesthetic should wear off in about an hour and a half,” Dr. Mellark said as he pulled off his gloves and tossed them in the trash. Katniss was now sitting upright while Delly cleaned up after the procedure. The worst was over except for the persistent numbness in her mouth, which was probably the lesser of two evils after having a drill taken to one of her teeth minutes earlier. What’s more, after her initial fears subsided she realized how much Dr. Mellark put her at ease, every step of the way. He spoke throughout the procedure, so there would be no surprises about what he was doing. Once or twice her trembling fingers gave away her apprehension, and Dr. Mellark would pause to squeeze them reassuringly. Every time, Katniss fed off the electricity of his touch. She felt braver with him at her side.
But still, Katniss was glad to hear the painkiller would wear off soon and that it would truly be over. Besides, she had to meet her friend Madge for dinner just around the same time. And she was starving.
“Let me know if you have any additional discomfort, okay?” Dr. Mellark said with his back to her, updating her chart. “You can call me anytime, Katniss.”
Katniss did a double take in Dr. Mellark’s direction as he straightened and swiveled back around to look at her. His eyes were wide and his lips gaped open and closed, almost like a fish. “Call the office. You can call the office,” he quickly amended. “You have the office number, right? The office.”
Katniss nodded and swallowed hard, curious about the sudden, intense look in the man’s eyes. “Thank you for everything today, Dr. Mellark.”
“Peeta,” he blurted, stepping forward and holding out a hand for Katniss to shake. “Please. I know it’s not really professional, but calling me ‘doctor’ is so new, I’m not really used to it.”
“Well, you’d never know you were new to the profession, Dr. - Peeta,” Katniss replied, taking his outstretched hand somewhat timidly, trying to ignore the flutter in her gut that appeared as she touched him. “I have to confess, no one else has ever made me feel so… safe… in the dentist’s chair.”
“Not even all those years with Dr. Abernathy?”
“Nope.” Katniss popped the p at the end and smiled shyly.
“What Peeta lacks in experience, he certainly makes up for in other ways,” Delly interjected as she handed Katniss her handbag. Katniss failed to see the look of murder Peeta threw his hygienist's way as she dug through her purse for her phone. When she looked up at Peeta once more, his face was a mask of politeness.
“I’m just glad I could help,” he beamed. “Now, make sure you’re using that fluoride rinse Dr. Abernathy gave you at your last visit. You don’t want to ruin your smile.”
Katniss snorted softly. “As if anyone sees it.”
“I see it,” Peeta said quietly.
“Oh,” mumbled Katniss, confused.
Delly cleared her throat loudly. “If that’s all, Dr. Mellark, I’ll see Miss Everdeen out to the billing desk?”
Peeta nodded in response but kept his eyes on his patient. “Goodbye, Katniss.”
Katniss’s phone rang just as she settled her bill with the receptionist. She answered it as she walked toward the exit. “Hey, yeah, I just finished. Okay, the Hob it is. See ya there.” She disconnected her call and continued to make her way outside, not noticing the distressed expression on the face of her dentist, who was watching from the exam room doorway the entire time.
“Effie?” Peeta called out to the receptionist. “How many more appointments do we have today?”
“Dammit!” Katniss threw her napkin down on the table in frustration.
“Katniss.” Madge held a delicately-manicured hand up to her face to hide the wide smile that threatened to come out. “What’s wrong?”
“Fucking novocaine! The dentist said it would wear off by now. I can’t even tell if the spoon is in my mouth!”
Magde suppressed a snicker and picked up the discarded napkin, leaning across the table to hand it back to Katniss. “Guess you can’t feel the soup dripping down your chin either then?” Her voice dropped to a stage whisper. “You might want to clean that up.”
“What? Shit, Madge, stop laughing at me!” Katniss blushed with embarrassment as she dabbed at her face, hoping she removed all the offending food.
Madge openly laughed now, her shoulders shaking. “I’m sorry, but it’s just too cute. You’re like a baby. Should I ask for a bib and a high chair? I hear the Sizzler hosts a Kids Eat Free night.”
As her friend’s eyes continued to twinkle in merriment, Katniss couldn’t help but smile slightly at her own predicament. If Madge had to deal with this instead, Katniss knew she’d be laughing just as much. “Fuck you,” Katniss shot back half-heartedly, her ire fading rapidly.
Madge shook her head slowly as something over Katniss’s shoulder caught her eye. “I won’t, but that guy at the bar is looking at you like he might want to do just that.”
Katniss leaned over her soup, wondering how much she resembled a dog or a cat as she brought her face as close as possible to it. Shoveling a spoonful into her mouth and keeping her lips pressed together until she knew she’d successfully swallowed, she finally eyed Madge suspiciously. “What are you blabbering about?”
“Mister Blond, Broad and Handsome. 3 o’clock. Oh shit, he’s heading this way! Play cool, Katniss.”
“I still don’t understand what…”
Katniss whirled around, napkin flying out of her hand and landing abruptly at the feet of Doctor Blond, Broad and Handsome himself.
“Dr. Mellark,” she said dumbly, immediately drawn to the ridiculous way her dentist’s crisp white dress shirt and dark green tie hung over his muscular frame. His sleeves were rolled up to reveal those solid forearms that had brushed against her body over and over again while he worked on her in his office. Her eyes were on them as he reached down to scoop up the abandoned napkin, and Katniss found herself mesmerized by his thick fingers as he handed it back to her. She hadn’t thought much about them when they were in her mouth earlier, but now she could think of nothing but them, in her mouth and other places, too. Katniss imagined what it would be like to have those fingers curling up against her most sensitive spot, and she felt a warm pulsing between her legs return once more.
Damn. She’d already changed her panties after her appointment and she was about to ruin another pair.
Katniss continued to stare at the man as he smiled broadly. “It’s Peeta, remember? None of this ‘doctor’ business, please.” He gazed confidently back at her with those blue eyes and Katniss was sure he knew what she was thinking about. She blushed just as Madge cleared her throat loudly.
“Um, hey. Yeah, hi. I’m Madge, Katniss’s friend. She never told me she got herself a new… dentist.”
Peeta’s head turned abruptly as if seeing the other young woman for the first time. “Hi, there. I - I just took over the practice. Dr. Abernathy retired to Cabo.” He paused. “Is it just you two tonight?” he asked, turning his attention back to Katniss, who just stared.
“Yep. Just us single ladies,” Madge replied, though clearly no one was looking at her.
“Anyhow.... I… noticed you sitting here and just wanted to see how you were doing after your appointment.” Peeta continued to stare at Katniss like she hung the moon.
Madge grinned and rose from the table. “I think I need to powder my nose. If I don’t see you again, it was nice meeting you, Peeta.” Madge threw a surreptitious wink their way and Katniss, finally noticing her friend, blanched at the realization that Madge was leaving her alone with Peeta on purpose.
Peeta was continuing to talk, but for the first time his cheerful expression faltered. “Honestly, I was a little worried. I could tell you were pretty uncomfortable during your procedure.”
“I am right now, too,” Katniss replied candidly. She gingerly patted her cheek and Peeta frowned.
“The novocaine is still affecting you a bit?”
Katniss nodded, looking down at the spills of soup on the table somewhat bashfully. “I’ll say.”
Peeta noticed them, too, but he smiled reassuringly. “You’ll be fine by morning. Some people are just more sensitive to it, that’s all.”
“Tell me about it. I can’t eat a thing right now and I’m starving.”
Peeta frowned. “Well, we can’t let you go hungry, can we now?” He extended his hand to hers, palm up. “Let me make it up to you.”
Katniss looked at Peeta curiously. “What do you have in mind? A discount on my bill?” But she reached out and placed her hand in his anyway.
Peeta grinned. “Well, I’m pretty sure Effie - you know our receptionist? She’d have my head if I didn’t do everything by the book in that regard. No, um, I had something else in mind if you’ll allow it.”
Katniss wasn’t sure how - maybe it was his manner with her as his patient, maybe it was the warm way he was smiling at her in that moment - but she knew she could trust Peeta.
“I’ll allow it.”
“You didn’t even ask what I had in mind.”
It was Katniss’s turn to grin, which she couldn’t help though she was sure she looked grotesque with her inability to control half the muscles in her jaw. “I let you poke a needle in my face . Pretty sure if you had any sinister motives you’d have carried them out by now. I also know where you work so I know where to exact my revenge if need be.”
Peeta swallowed heavily at the not so thinly-made threat, but looked a bit relieved when he saw the teasing smile on Katniss’s lips. “Shall we then?” He tugged gently on her hand and she stood.
“What, we’re leaving?”
“Yes.” Peeta dropped several $20 bills onto the table, more than enough to cover the girls’ dinner. “You can text your friend on the way so she knows you’re with me.”
“Oh my God, Peeta! You’re amazing!”
“You really think I’m that good?”
“Shut up. You know you’re at good this.”
“Okay, I admit it. I’ve been told that before, by several women, actually.”
“They’re right! I’ve never had better. Where have you been all my life?” Katniss continued to rave. “I never knew you could have peanut butter and jelly like this.” She took one last slurp through the straw, determined to drink up every last bit of the milkshake Peeta had prepared for her. The combination of the cold ice cream and smooth peanut butter had soothed her mouth as well as satiated her hunger pains.
Peeta rubbed his hand across the back of his neck. “PBJ is such a comfort food, you know? I could eat it all day.” Katniss nodded in agreement, but also wistfully began to think how good the man who made her dinner would be for the other hunger, the one lower in her belly.
When Peeta brought Katniss back to her apartment, he’d immediately gotten to work in her kitchen, only pausing for a second to toss his tie and starched dress shirt onto her sofa first. Katniss wasn’t sure if the drool threatening to drip from her mouth was left over from her dental procedure or was the result of the sight of the snug white undershirt that hugged every muscle of Peeta’s sculpted torso. She mechanically pointed him in the direction of her rarely-used blender and the peanut butter and jelly in her pantry, before he added them to the ice cream and milk in her fridge. Now dentist and patient were finishing a strange but satisfying dinner on the sofa as a quiet calm settled over the pair. All the anxieties of the day had melted away. Now, it was replaced by a sense of comfort, at such odds with the desire Katniss felt for the dentist, that she had a hard time reconciling the conflicting emotions coursing through her. Peeta at once excited and calmed her, and she couldn’t remember ever reacting to any man in that way before. It felt amazing.
Instead of trying to figure it all out, Katniss just enjoyed the moment. “I’m so much better. Thank you, Peeta.”
“You’re welcome, Katniss. And how’s your cheek?”
“Admittedly, a little tender,” she replied, setting her empty glass on the coffee table in front of her. “But that means the feeling is coming back, right?”
Peeta nodded. “I told you it would be temporary. Some people just need a little longer to adjust to something.”
Katniss looked at Peeta thoughtfully. “And sometimes they don’t need a whole lot of time at all.”
Peeta quirked his head sideways. “Meaning...?”
“Well, I only met you a few hours ago. Now you're in my apartment, and you made me dinner like we’re -” she laughed and gestured back and forth between them, “ I mean, how did that happen?”
Peeta grinned and looked away. If Katniss wasn’t so familiar with his self-assuredness already, she could swear he was being bashful. Peeta smiled down at his lap. “A real stroke of luck, if you ask me,” he replied in a low voice. “Only, I don’t think I can continue to be your dentist. It wouldn’t be professional.”
Katniss sat up at attention, her expression much more sober. She replied just as quietly. “Yeah?”
“At the risk of scaring you off, I have to confess something. The moment I saw you in that exam room today, I was a goner.”
Katniss gasped almost inaudibly. “Peeta…” she murmured in wonder.
Peeta held up his hand to silence her, continuing to avert his gaze. “No, please, don’t say anything. I just wanted to be honest. I really don’t want to freak you out or frighten you. And to prove it, I’ll get going now.” He reached over for his dress shirt, slipping into the sleeves as he continued to talk. “But… I really enjoyed spending time with you, and if you’ll allow it, I’d like to do it again sometime. Maybe cook you something that doesn’t have to be liquified. Or we could go out. Whatever you like.” He grabbed his tie and threw it loosely over his neck before her voice commandingly stopped his movement.
He finally looked at her.
“Shut up already, before I lose my nerve.” Katniss inhaled deeply, grabbed Peeta by the back of the head, and pulled his mouth down to hers. The kiss was fleeting, but lasted long enough for Peeta to respond by parting his lips and allowing Katniss to tentatively slip her tongue between them. Katniss almost instantly pulled back, shocked by her own boldness. But she’d come this far, so she took another deep breath and went for an honest declaration of her own. “Peeta, I… I’m having a good time with you, too, and I might be crazy for saying this, but I don’t want tonight to end just yet.” Katniss timidly placed her free hand on his knee. Peeta stared down at it, his expression hard to read, before he nodded.
Peeta took her hand in his before extending his other arm. She fell into the crook of it and they leaned back onto the sofa together, both falling silent as they contemplated what was happening. Katniss couldn’t see the massive grin on Peeta’s face, but the deep inhalation and exhalation of his solid chest told her of his contentment.
Finally, Peeta broke the silence. “So… what do you have in mind? We could see if there’s a movie on, or just talk -”
“A movie might be nice. Oh.” Katniss glanced at the phone she’d left charging on the end table, which was lit up with an alert. “Madge texted me back. I was pretty vague with the text I left her earlier - you didn’t exactly tell me what you had planned, you know - so she’s probably still wondering what happened. I should answer so she doesn’t worry.” Peeta unwrapped his arm as Katniss sat up to grab the phone. She looked at the screen with a twinkle in her eye. “So… Magde says she Googled my… predicament and a bunch of online forums recommend increasing the blood flow to the face to ease the numbness more quickly. Sort of like waking up your leg when it falls asleep, I guess?”
“Dr. Madge on the case, huh? She seems like a good friend.”
Katniss nodded but rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well, she thinks if she watches enough Shonda Thursdays she can practice medicine.” Peeta laughed aloud at her characterization. “Besides, those sites are not really scientific, are they?”
Peeta shook his head, still amused. “Not really.”
Silence came over them again. As Katniss watched Peeta, the tiniest wrinkling of his forehead hinted he was deep in thought, and she waited for him to think through whatever was on his mind. He shook his head, seemingly more to himself than to her, then shrugged casually. “Aw, what the hell? Let’s try it.”
Katniss’s eyes widened when Peeta leaned in until his nose nudged hers. “Let’s get your blood flowing,” he whispered in a husky voice, even as his cheeks pinkened to the sound of his own bold declaration. His lips just glanced off hers, teasing, before he slowly rubbed his cheek against the side of her face. Katniss whimpered softly at the pleasure that coursed through her, enjoying the scratchy stubble of his chiseled jaw against her smooth skin. He smelled of that combination of cinnamon and dill she first noticed in his office, and she breathed in the scent greedily. Her hunger was back in full force, and nothing Peeta could make in the kitchen would quite take care of it.
“Your mouth still numb?” He murmured against the shell of her ear, and his hot tongue darted out to trace the edge of the soft lobe, sending tingles down Katniss’s spine and straight to the juncture of her thighs.
“A little,” she admitted softly, before letting out a quiet mewl as his tongue began to draw small, lazy circles on the expanse of skin just below her ear.
“That’s terrible,” Peeta chuckled quietly, flicking his tongue against that spot once, then twice. “Because, Katniss, I really want you. But more importantly, provided you let me, I want to make sure you fully experience every bit of every single thing I plan to do to you tonight.” Another flick. “Every kiss, every lick, every bite.” His lips puckered and pulled gently on her earlobe, making her squirm. “I want to worship every inch of your skin tonight.” He dragged his tongue from her pulse point down the side of her neck. “I want you to feel safe, secure, and thoroughly...”
He planted a soft kiss to the juncture of her shoulder and neck.
“...Made love to until you go numb with satisfaction.”
He made one more flick of his tongue against her warm, smooth skin, just above her collarbone.
“Oh, my.” Katniss was stunned, yet at the same time never felt more aware of her surroundings. Everything was Peeta. His mouth on her skin, his big hands slipping her around her small waist. His voice close to her ear. The recent memory of the taste of his mouth, which she already craved again. Her mind full of him, only him.
Peeta looked up at her. “But only if you want me to, Katniss. Is that what you want?” His blue eyes were blazing with a desire that was equally matched in the stormy gray of hers.
Katniss exhaled shallowly, looking for her breath. “It’s what I want.” She nodded decidedly, watching the top of Peeta’s head start to nuzzle its way below the neckline of her top. Holding her breath in anticipation, she quickly groaned in annoyance as Peeta pulled back.
He grinned knowingly and stood, reaching out to pull her up from the sofa as well. “Where’s your bedroom?”
Once there, Katniss and Peeta took their time undressing each other, pausing frequently to lay kisses to each other’s bared skin. Totally exposed, Peeta reached up to remove his glasses, but Katniss stilled his movement with her hand. “Don’t,” she commanded gently. “Leave them on.”
Peeta arched an eyebrow in curiosity and Katniss blushed mildly. “You don’t want to know,” she muttered.
Peeta licked his lips in anticipation. “Oh, but I think I do. You’ve piqued my interest now.” He laughed again as Katniss swatted his shoulder gently, trying but not succeeding in covering her own smile with a small scowl.
“Just leave them, okay?” she asked timidly as she stepped back, lowering herself to the bed.
Peeta nodded solemnly as he climbed on top of her. “Anything you want.”
Silence fell between them as Peeta’s words seemed to trigger a shift in the atmosphere of the room. As he watched her settle beneath him, staring up at him with fire in her eyes, he knew he would give her anything she desired for as long as she let him. He leaned down and gently but deeply kissed Katniss, who instinctively wrapped her arms and legs around his torso, pulling him closer. Peeta laid himself between Katniss’s legs, reveling in the warmth he felt emanating from her entire body. As his tongue swept through her mouth, teasing and tasting her, Katniss sighed with pleasure; not just of a sexual nature, but the contentment that comes from the sense of being worshipped by a man who just wants to see her be happy. Instinctively she ground her center against his erection, and Peeta moaned into her mouth at the contact.
He writhed back against her damp core, the initial friction quickly giving way to the smooth glide of his arousal through her wetness. Grinding rhythmically against her, Peeta suddenly realized that if he wasn’t careful, this could be over for him before it really got started. He sat up, extricating himself from Katniss’s limbs as he reached down between them to find the source of her pleasure. His eyes lit up and he wiggled his eyebrows as he found the spot he was looking for, teasing the tiny nub with the rough pad of his thumb and reveling in the way Katniss almost imperceptibly thrust back against it. He slid two fingers into her welcoming depth, then after a few moments of stretching her gently, he inserted one more. Katniss writhed in blissful agony against Peeta’s hand, her earlier fantasy all but coming to life now between her legs. As her pleasure built higher, working its way slowly toward some unfathomable end, she knew the reality was better than any imagining.
When it seemed Katniss had all but reached her rapturous precipice, Peeta gently withdrew his fingers. Katniss thrust out her lower lip in a playful pout, which made Peeta lean down and kiss her soundly on her plump mouth. Before she could respond, Peeta replaced his lips with his sticky fingers, sliding them gently between Katniss’s lips. Her eyes flew open as she eagerly sucked her own arousal off of them. Peeta grinned, removing his fingers from her mouth and reaching down to grasp his erection.
“Condom,” he gritted out. Katniss nodded emphatically and gestured to the nightstand. Sliding the drawer open, Peeta chuckled as he spied multiple boxes of different sizes and textures. “So many?” The question was teasing, not accusatory.
“Yeah, um, notice none of the boxes are open…?” she said with a short, hollow laugh as Peeta reached for one and opened it. “Madge has always insisted I be prepared, though.”
Peeta shook his head in amusement. “You’re a regular Boy Scout, Everdeen.” Peeta ripped open a foil packet with his teeth and as he sheathed himself, Katniss couldn’t help but watch in admiration. Peeta was probably of average length, but he was thick, and based on his fingers working their magic Katniss could just imagine how it would be with him inside her. Peeta continued talking as he lined himself up against her, coating the tip just inside her wet folds. “The sexiest fucking Boy Scout I’ve ever met, I might add.”
“Probably the only one with a uterus, too.”
Peeta laughed heartily at Katniss’s retort and she couldn’t help but join him. He took the moment of distraction to slide into Katniss’s velvet heat in one long, swift thrust, and she nearly came off the bed with the pleasure that shot through her pelvis and coursed through her veins. “Oh, God,” she moaned in surprise.
“Boys Scouts first, now God? We have quite the wholesome audience with us tonight, don’t we?” Peeta grinned. Katniss splayed her knees further apart as he began to thrust more rhythmically, each long stroke nudging Katniss deep inside in a mixture of pain and pleasure. “Let me know if it’s too much,” he warned her, noticing the crinkling of her brow as he hit bottom again and again.
“‘No… good... hurt… don’t stop -” she muttered. “More... more...” Katniss was rambling as she got lost in the sensation of Peeta’s thickness fitting so snugly inside her. She tilted her hips a fraction, straightening her legs and Peeta grabbed her ankles, placing them against his shoulders. Peeta propped himself up on his hands, ass clenching again and again, driving balls deep into Katniss relentlessly. She was taking every inch of him he could give, and judging by the restless movement of her hips against him, she was aching for even more. Peeta slid out fully and they both moaned at the momentary loss of contact.
“Fours,” he breathed shallowly.
Fuck. Peeta thought Katniss couldn’t get any sexier until he saw her on her hands and knees, backside thrust into the air, eager for him. He filled her once more and she cried out again with that sound of pain-pleasure he was quickly coming to love. Peeta had promised to make love to her, but clearly she was okay with a good, hard fuck too. Katniss rocked back on her knees, meeting each of Peeta’s movements with one of her own. The sounds of their fucking filled the room: his balls slapping against her; her loud, incoherent cries and grunts every time he hit home; the wet sounds of her arousal gripping him like a vacuum, sucking him in with each pounding thrust. Soon, Peeta’s cries of pleasure joined hers. He knew he was close again.
Peeta leaned in, continuing to slam his hips against Katniss’s rear as he reached around to find the spot that would unravel her, rubbing tight, hard circles. Katniss began whimpering and shaking as her walls threatened to choke him inside of her. When the pulsing of her muscles began, Peeta felt her envelop him in a gush of slick warmth. The sensations - her clenching walls, the wailing sounds of her climax, the smell of their arousal filling the air - overwhelmed him. With a cry of his own, Peeta thrust one, two, three more times and came deep inside Katniss, filling the condom. He jerked and pulsed almost uncontrollably for at least a minute before collapsing nearly on top of her, rolling just to the side as he caught his breath. Katniss continued to moan quietly and writhe gently beside him, hips still slightly elevated off the bed, clearly caught up in the lingering pulses of her own orgasm.
Finally, she was coherent enough to stretch her arm out cautiously toward Peeta. “Stay?” she whispered, the vulnerability in her voice so heartbreaking, and Peeta so overwhelmed, that his eyes threatened to spill over with tears.
Rolling fully onto his back, he tugged on Katniss’s hand and she scooted closer to him, allowing him to wrap her up in his arms. He planted a sound kiss on her forehead as she closed her eyes, and whispered his response.
Peeta came to some time later; how long they’d napped, he wasn’t sure, but it was almost dark outside. He stared at the ceiling and smiled to himself, remembering what had just transpired between him and the beautiful woman by his side. She, too, was just starting to stir and he stroked her hair with his strong hand.
“Drill and fill,” Katniss mumbled to herself in her half-asleep, half-awake state, snuggling closer to him.
Peeta snorted with laughter. “What?”
Katniss bolted upright in horror. She turned crimson, which amused Peeta even more, considering what they’d just done and the fact that they were stark naked in her bed. Neither had even bothered to pull a sheet over themselves as they dozed off. Peeta repeated his question teasingly, and Katniss rolled her eyes as she scowled. Peeta realized he was going to love making her scowl like that, if she let him stay around long enough.
Katniss sighed heavily. “FINE. I said, ‘drill and fill.’ You said that in your office and... well, it made me think of things other than my teeth… and, I couldn't stop thinking about you… us… like that… after that.”
“You little vixen. If I only knew that, you’d never even have made it to the restaurant to meet Madge. I was actually praying I hadn't chased you away for good with that Freudian slip. I’m really not the kind to sexually harass my patients, you know.”
“You did scare me,” Katniss admitted, but seeing the mild look of alarm in Peeta’s eyes she quickly added, “but not for the reasons you might’ve thought. I was scared by how much I was attracted to you. I was sure you’d notice how… turned on... I was.”
“Oh, like the unnatural way I had to lean over your arm so you wouldn’t notice the very hard wood I was sporting in my scrubs?”
“No, it’s okay. Really okay. It’s just… I’ve never had anyone react that way to me before.”
She nodded as Peeta continued to look at her in disbelief. “Really!”
“I don’t think you quite know. The effect you can have.”
Katniss lay back down. “Care to show me?”
“It is true, what they say about bedside manner.”
“Um, that’s a doctor thing. I’m a dentist.”
“You have the word DOCTOR in front of your name. It still counts.”
Peeta chuckled as he pulled Katniss in closer. “Excellent point. All those years of Seam High School Debate Club served you well.”
“How did you know I went-?”
“I have a confession to make.”
Katniss raised herself up on one elbow to look at him skeptically. When she saw something close to fear in the expression he returned, her heart began to throb with an anxiety she hadn’t felt since the needle was about to get jabbed into her mouth. Peeta’s next words didn’t do anything to allay her fears, either.
“Promise you won’t hate me.”
“Peeta…” her voice held a warning. But Peeta plunged on, undeterred.
“I recognized your name on the appointment calendar this morning. Believe me when I say I did NOT expect us to end up like this, but I was hoping for the chance to meet you again.”
“‘Again?’ I don’t understand.” Katniss tried to push down the sense of alarm that was rising from her tightening chest. “Peeta, this doesn’t sound good…”
“I know you. And you know - knew - me. I did debate in high school, too. I went to Merchant High.”
“Our biggest rivals?” Katniss sat up, peering more closely at the handsome man in her bed. She searched her memory for some familiarity but found none.
“Yeah, um - well, I didn’t quite look the same back then.” Katniss pulled away as Peeta reached over the side of the bed to retrieve his wallet from the back pocket of his discarded pants. From the wallet, he pulled out a faded, folded photo. “I keep this in here to remind myself of how far I’ve come. How much I worked to be more confident in myself. It took a long time, and I had to face my mom -- well, that story isn’t important right now -- but anyway, here I am. Was. That’s me.”
He handed the dog-eared photo to Katniss, who sat upright as her face lit up. The boy in the picture did not closely resemble the man beside her, but one look at those piercing blue eyes revealed the boy was, in fact, Peeta.
And he was right. She knew this boy. “I remember you,” she breathed in awe. The chubby cheeks. The thick glasses. The face full of braces. “You went by -”
“Peety?” he scoffed quietly. “A.K.A. Peety the Pudge. Yeah, you never quite kick the elementary school nicknames, and I can thank my older brothers for that. It wasn’t until college that I finally ditched that, and the acne, the extra pounds, the awkwardness. All of it. The braces came off, and I started to see myself differently. I also made the decision to become a dentist because of it. But more importantly, I came out of my shell. Sort of reinvented myself, I guess.”
“Wow.” Katniss continued to gaze at the faded photo in her right hand, while her left hand hovered over her lips in disbelief. “I - I really liked Peety, you know,” she whispered quietly before she lifted her eyes to meet his astonished gaze.
“What?” Peeta half-snorted, half laughed.
“Peety was generous, and kind. And he probably had no idea how much it meant to me, but one Saturday at a competition, he shared his lunch with me. I’d said I’d forgotten mine. We split a-” their eyes met as they both recollected the moment.
“-peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Peeta finished for her.
Katniss’s eyes gleamed. “He also had the best homemade cookies I’ve ever eaten.”
Peeta nodded solemnly, but confusion lingered in his eyes. “I really wanted a reason to talk to you back then. You were so beautiful - no, you were,” Peeta insisted as Katniss scoffed. “You weren’t like anyone I’d ever met before. I could tell you didn’t care about silly things like fashion or cliques. And then, there you were there that afternoon, sitting all alone just like me.”
Katniss let out a deep breath.
“The truth was, Peeta, I hadn’t forgotten my lunch. The truth was... we had no food in the house.”
She shook her head to will him into silence. “My father died and my mother was battling… demons. The whole reason I joined debate team was to give myself a place to go outside of school. I didn’t want to spend any more time at home than I needed to.”
Katniss handed the photo back to Peeta, who set it on the nightstand and turned back toward her to take her hand. Her eyes met his, blazing with something he couldn’t quite interpret. Her next words came out in a near whisper.
“That shy, awkward, wonderful boy gave me the first food I’d eaten in days. He gave me hope. And I never got to thank him for that.”
Katniss slowly stretched out across the bed once again, pressing herself up against Peeta, and leaned in to give him a slow, soft kiss, her lips barely brushing against his.
He felt her trembling before the first tears dropped from her eyelids, splashing onto his cheeks, and wrapped his arms around her tightly in response. She sighed softly, shuddering, the tension releasing as she tucked her head into the crook of his neck.
“I never knew,” he murmured in astonishment. “You just looked like you needed a friend. I wanted to be that friend. And much more, if I’m brave enough to admit it now. I thought I lost that chance years ago.”
“But here we are,” Katniss replied. She smiled into Peeta’s shoulder as she felt the vigorous nod of his head.
They lay there silently for a while, drowsiness starting to take over once again. They’d have plenty of time to talk more about their past - and their future - in the morning. For now they could just relish the moment.
“Peeta?” Katniss murmured. “I need to say one more thing.”
“Yes, sweetheart?” Upon uttering the endearment, he felt her smile against him again.
“I’m really pissed at you.”
“What? Why?” Peeta found himself wide awake again. Katniss huffed against him and Peeta could just imagine the scowl on her lovely face.
“It took me 29 years to find a dentist I wasn’t afraid of, and now he had to go and make me fall for him! Peeta, I need to find a new dentist.”