Just so everyone knows, this fic follows the book to a certain point, then goes off in its own direction. I do not own the characters, obviously.

Peeta winced as he limped back to his cell. He hadn't been able to take off his prosthetic leg for weeks now and he was really feeling it in his muscles. Of course, he decided this pain was ok because it distracted him from everything else they had done to him. After his warning to Katniss and the rebels, Snow's men had beaten him within an inch of his life. Bruises covered his handsome face, his blonde curls were matted with blood, and his wrists and ankles bore the sign of thick and heavy chains. He had given up on a rescue. He hoped Katniss would be safe. He thought about her day and night, praying that she would lead the rebels to victory. His mockingjay. His girl on fire.

When he returned to the cell, he heard pained screams coming from the cell next to him. There was the sound of rushing water and more agonized screams. Peeta winced and continued to his cell, keeping his head bowed and not saying a word. During their first week in captivity, Peeta learned the hard way that he couldn't protest at the other prisoners' treatment. It only made things worse for all of them. To the left of him he saw a shy face peering through the bars.

"Alright Peeta? "

"Still alive, Annie. You?"

"Still alive," she muttered. He nodded and entered his cell, noticing immediately that something was wrong.

His cell was dark, save for a beam of light that illuminated a figure in the middle of the room. Whoever it was, was chained by the wrists and their head was hanging on their chest. Peeta could make out long dark hair and he edged closer.

"What the hell-" it was a young woman, he could see, her clothes nearly tattered to rags and her slender form was shivering uncontrollably. Peeta approached the woman and stared down at her, all of a sudden feeling uncontrollable rage coursing through him. As the young woman moaned and took notice of something standing in front of her, she lifted her face only to find strong fingers around her throat and a face etched with fury glaring down at her, his usually blue eyes going black and cold. She gasped and tried to shake her head.

"P-Peeta," she gasped out, "it's me…K-K-"

"I know who you are," he spat, his fingers squeezing even harder. Katniss gasped for breath, her vision going blurry. "You're a filthy MUTT, is what you are! What the HELL are you doing here?" She shook her head but could no longer get any words out. Peeta released her in disgust, glaring down at her as she choked and gasped for breath. He turned to face the monitor above his bed and he glowered.

"Someone better give me a fucking good reason why she's here!"

"We thought you would like to see what has become of the Mockingjay," a cool voice said from the other side of the bars. Peeta whirled around to find Peacekeeper Thread, from his district, leaning against the bars.

"I don't give a fuck."

"Oh I'm pretty sure you do. Since she's responsible for so much pain, I thought you would like to see us end her. We'll even let you help." Peeta said nothing but his dark eyes flashed. The Peacekeeper chuckled and nodded and strode off. Peeta crossed back to Katniss, who was glancing around in fear and confusion.

"What? Not the accommodations you were thinking of? Sorry to disappoint you, little mockingjay, these ARE the best that the President can offer." Katniss's eyes welled with tears at Peeta's cold tone.

"Peeta…what have they done to you?"

"Like you care," he snarled. "You couldn't wait to get rid of me! You wanted to kill me! You wanted to kill them all!" Further confusion crossed her face and Peeta grew even angrier.

"Stop playing stupid! You're a smart girl, Katniss. I'm sure you can figure it out."

"I- I don't-

"You KILLED them," he shrieked before grabbing her throat again. She choked around his hold, her eyes shooting open, tears streaming down her cheeks. Peeta refused to meet her gaze. He knew she would try to captivate him somehow and there was no way in hell he would let that happen.

"Go ahead Peeta," she said weakly. "Kill me. Please." This upset Peeta even more and his knuckles met her cheek in rage. She cried out as her head was tossed to the side and she shook in her chains.

"I won't become a murderer for you. But I'll smile when I watch them finally kill you." Katniss fell limp in her chains. Whatever they had done to Peeta, they had killed the boy who loved her. All that was left was this angry soulless shell of a human being with black eyes and who spoke with Peeta's voice. She wanted to die. She had stopped living and caring once he had been taken, then she had agreed to become the Mockingjay for the rebels if they agreed to rescue him. Now here he was, all but dead. He shot her one last glare before he settled on the opposite side of the cell. He curled into himself and leaned against the bars. He felt a soft hand squeeze his arm and his eyes shot open.

"How are you doing, Jo," he said in a softer voice, sounding much like his old self.

"They haven't killed me yet," came her weak voice. "Wish they would hurry up already."

"Don't say that Johanna. We'll survive this. We'll get out of here."

"I want to hope for a rescue but I hope she stays away. We don't need her getting hurt."


"Katniss of course! She'll come running to your rescue as soon as she can come up with a plan to sneak off." Peeta snorted.

"Why put your faith in that bitch? She doesn't help anyone but herself." He couldn't see her face but he was surprised when he heard her voice shaking with rage.

"Peeta, what in the hell is wrong with you? Katniss loves you. And you love her. What's with the bitch talk?"

"Things change. That mutt is responsible for the bombings. My home is destroyed. My family is dead. All because of her."

"What the fuck are they doing to you?! Katniss isn't responsible for any of that! How dare you talk like that?" From behind him, he heard Katniss cry out from a nightmare and he stayed perfectly still. She screamed and sobbed and still he wouldn't move. He vaguely remembered when he used to comfort her while she slept, when she would cry out from the nightmares. She just used him, he realized. She had always just used him. When she settled back down and fell back asleep, Peeta squeezed his knees close to his chest.

"Peeta, is someone else in there with you?"

"Capitol scum they decided to punish," he said dismissively. Johanna sighed and squeezed his arm again.

"Guess we should try to get some rest, huh? Hey Annie, you still with us?"

"They haven't taken me yet, Jo," came Annie's reply. Peeta squeezed his eyes shut. Both girls sounded weak and frail. This was all HER fault. She hadn't done a thing when all three of them had been captured and they had been in the Capitol for weeks now. She was probably off making out with Gale and not giving a damn about her friends. Peeta shot a glare at the still figure in the chains and he tried to settle down and go to sleep.

A loud buzzing and bright lights started to flash and Peeta jumped to his feet. Annie started to scream hysterically and Johanna anxiously tried to hush her. It was their way of keeping their prisoners awake all night and Peeta was used to this. Still, it surprised them and Annie lost her mind at the sudden noises.

Peeta kept track of the days by keeping a tally on the floor with his blood. As they were more determined to make Katniss suffer, they were starting to leave him alone, which he was fine with. Except for the screams. Katniss's screams cut like a knife and were far worse than Annie and Johanna. He didn't know why but he winced every time he heard the whip lash through the air, then her scream seconds later. He should have been enjoying it. Finally the precious girl on fire was getting what she deserved. They had showed him videos of District 12 being bombed and turned to ash. The Bakery had erupted into flames and Peeta knew no one inside had made it out. He watched as Katniss ordered for other districts to be bombed, he watched her laugh while she walked through their destroyed district, kicking aside bones as if they were dirt underneath her. Which they were now. Their home was nothing but dirt and ash. And Katniss had caused it all to happen. He didn't understand why he was continually forced to watch videos of Katniss. At first they were simple images of her in her home, or in Victor's Village, or some of her by herself in the Games. Then they showed him videos of the two of them together, then videos of Katniss and Gale together. Peeta's fingernails dug into his palms as he had watched Katniss kiss Gale.

Three days had gone by since Katniss had been placed in his cell and he knew she wouldn't make it much longer. He tried not to look at her but when the Peacekeeper would leave, he would glance over to see her defeated form limp in her chains. Her shirt had been torn off completely and her hair was long enough to hide her curves. She didn't speak and she didn't look at him. He hadn't seen them give her any food or water and he wondered how long she could last. Of course he remembered how resilient she was. She had, after all, survived two Hunger Games but then again, so had he. And he had helped her too. She wouldn't have lived if it hadn't been for him.

On the fourth day of Katniss's capture, Peeta returned from watching more videos of Katniss ordering more bombings. Something very strange had happened during the video, though. It had seemed to cut out for a moment and Peeta found himself looking at a very different Katniss, a sadder Katniss, as well as Finnick Odair. The room had erupted into chaos and while Peeta was strapped to the bed, they had all exclaimed that the rebels must have done something and they all hurried from the room. Peeta stared up at the ceiling, his mind racing. Images of Katniss filled his mind but not all of them were bad. Some were actually pretty good. For some strange reason, the good memories were clearer and brighter. The bad ones were sort of fuzzy and blurred. Peeta couldn't figure it out. When the peacekeepers had returned, they acted like nothing was wrong and continued the videos. Peeta glanced down at his arms and scratched at the strange holes that were forming. Indeed, his arms were starting to look like those of an addict. He made his way back to his cell, deep in thought, until a piercing scream brought him out of his thoughts. Annie was clutching the bars, looking pained and she grabbed his ankle.

"What the-"

"Peeta, save her! Save her! Whoever it is, save her!" He knelt and patted Annie's cheek.

"It'll be alright, Annie. I promise. Finnick will rescue you soon."

"Finnick," she said softly and released him, backing away slowly. Peeta entered his cell and his eyes widened in horror.

Katniss was strapped to the table with her hands over her head, her face screwed up the utmost pain, and she was panting heavily. Peeta's eyes traveled over the peacekeepers, who held something in their hands. He felt sick to his stomach when he realized they were blowtorches. As one of them lifted the torch again, Peeta heard the bars on the other side being rattled.

"You bastards, hasn't she been through enough?! Get the fuck away from her!" Peeta hurried over to Johanna before they could turn on her and he grabbed her shoulders.

"Johanna, are you crazy? Be quiet or they'll-"

"I don't care! I don't CARE, Peeta! I don't even know who she is or what she's done but she doesn't deserve this! This is…this is the worst-" Peeta was alarmed to see tears welling in the victor's eyes and he squeezed her hand. They heard the sound of the blowtorch and Katniss's bloodcurdling screams.

"Now she really is the girl on fire," one of them chuckled. Peeta felt sick and he looked into Johanna's terror-stricken face.


"It doesn't matter. You're right, no one deserves this." He turned back to the peacekeepers and cleared his throat.

"I think you're about done for today." Thread raised a brow and lowered his torch. Katniss looked like she was about to pass out from the pain and Peeta could make out her raw feet, the burns making their way past her ankles. He winced and looked back at Thread.

"You better back off, boy, and I may forget that you said anything."

"Why not just kill her and get it over with? Why go through all of this?"

"Tired of seeing the Mockingjay suffer, boy? Would you rather take her suffering yourself? You've always put your life on the line for her. Ready to do it again?" Peeta swallowed and his eyes slowly moved down to find Katniss's. His eyes widened as her stormy eyes held his, before he was hit with a sharp pain around his abdomen. He grunted and took a step back, pressing his hand to his chest. Thread nodded to the other men and they all filed out of the cell silently. Peeta watched them pound on Johanna's cell for a moment before they all left. When they were gone, Katniss seemed to slump to the table, defeat and pain written all over her face. Peeta grabbed a full bottle of water from his bed and crossed over to the table.

"Hey," he said softly. Katniss didn't look up at him and Peeta was glad. He had seen everything in those tossing storms and he didn't want to see any more. He held the bottle up.

"Here, I brought you some water. I'm going to lean you up, ok?" When she didn't make a sound of agreement or protest, his hand went to her neck and he leaned her up slightly, holding the bottle to her mouth. Katniss let out a little moan the cold water touched her lips and she drank greedily, sighing when he released her. His hand lingered on the back of her head for a moment, his fingers unconsciously stroking the dark strands of hair.

"Thank you, Peeta," she whispered. He found his throat was stuck at the sound of his name coming from her lips. It wasn't an unpleasant sensation. He should have been angry but he wasn't. He nodded and glanced down at her burned legs.

"I have more bottles. Do you want me to-?" he trailed off with a pointed look downward. She bit her lip but nodded and he went to his bed where he had several more bottles of water set aside. He set them on the table and glanced up at her from between her legs.

"Where does it hurt the most?"

"They focused the most on my feet," she said weakly. Those did indeed look the worst so Peeta took a deep breath before emptying the bottle over her foot. Her screams shook the cell as he continued onto the next foot. He had just enough to pour up her legs and by the time he emptied the third bottle, she was panting and shaking. He came back to her head and stroked the hair away from her face. She looked up at him, surprised.

"Why did you help me?"

"I don't know. By all accounts I should be helping them but I couldn't let them do that anymore. I know what they've done to you. And no one deserves that. Not even you." Katniss closed her eyes and willed the tears away. Peeta was gentle, caring, like he had always been but he still admitted that he thought she should be punished and she still had no idea what had happened to him. What they had done to him and what they had made him believe. When she opened her eyes, he had collected the bottles and gone back to his bed. He shoved away the thoughts of angry mutt Katniss and instead, focused on the good memories, the ones where she stood proud and brave with her dark braid resting over her breast, her bow gripped in one hand and her latest kill in the other. Peeta tossed and turned that night but he couldn't blame Katniss this time. He could only thank her.