A/N to follow


Katniss peers impatiently down the lamp-lit street. Her hands pump into fists as she chews on her lower lip. She pulls her phone from her jacket pocket, and glances at the time. A sigh escapes her when she realizes its only been six minutes since she called for a city taxi to come pick her up from what, she is sure, is the worst date she has ever been on.

"'Just go out with him, He's an athlete,' " Katniss mutters to herself, mimicking the words of her roommate Johanna from the day before. She sticks her tongue out and gags. "He's a gross, misogynistic pig, that's what he is," she tells herself before checking the time on her phone once again.

Yellow flashes out of the corner of her eye, and her head shoots up to find a taxi has stopped in front of her. She has just slipped her phone into her pocket when the driver abruptly gets out of the cab and looks over at her.

"Did you call for a cab?" he asks, a soft timbre to his voice.

Katniss's eyes widen, and her mouth falls open slightly as she gawks at the driver. Blond hair, with a jaw chiseled from marble, and eyes so brilliant in their blueness that they seem to shine even under the night sky. The cocking of his head pulls her back together again, and her mouth, which feels dry and tacky, begins to move.

"Um… yes," she stammers. The driver smiles at her answer, and in response quickly jogs around the taxi and opens the door for her. At first, she is a little put off by the unorthodox gesture from her taxi driver, but when she sinks into the warm cab, and her ass finds the soft cushion of the seat, her traitorous lips break into the smallest of smiles.

Before the driver gets back into the car, she peers over the seat and her eyes find the taxi licence hanging on the back of the drivers seat, she scans it for a name.

Peeta Mellark

The name, next to a small picture of the very attractive man, forms quietly on her lips. Her attention is finally broken when she realizes the driver is back in his seat and speaking to her once again.

"I'm sorry… what?" Katniss can feel heat climb up her neck.

"I asked where to?" A patient smile tugs at his lips.

"Oh, ah…" Her words stall. She hadn't thought that far ahead. All she had wanted to do was get as far away from her date as possible — not that he had even offered to drive her home —but now that she has a chance to go home, strip off her heels, skirt and blouse, wipe the make up off her face, put on her fleece pajama bottoms, and crawl into bed to watch episodes of Parks and Recs on Netflix, she's not sure she wants to.

She knows Johanna will be up when she gets there, with her judgmental eyes and her loud mouth, trying to make it seem like there's something wrong with Katniss and not the parade of douchebags that her so-called friends continue to set her up with.

"How much to just drive around for a bit before taking me home?"

"Well, I guess that would depend on how much driving you wanted to do." She can hear the amusement in his words. She glances down at the card machine in front of her.

"How much will $150 get me?"

She watches Peeta scratch his chin in contemplation before turning to answer her.

"I think that will get you a little while," he smiles at her, puts the car into gear, and pulls away from the curb.

For a while they drive in silence. Katniss rests her head against the window, her eyes studying the twinkles of the passing city lights. The purr of the engine relaxes her; her eyelids grow heavy and she lets out a contented sigh before she can stop herself. The clearing of Peeta's throat a moment later startles her.

"Oh, ah, I'm sorry. I just wanted to ask.. well I'm kind of one of those taxi drivers that likes to talk, but if you want me to just keep my mouth shut and drive I will."

She smiles at what she is sure is the politest cab driver she has ever heard of; most of them would jabber on no matter what, and she is sure no other cab driver in the history of the world opens the car doors for their fares.

"I'm not much of a conversationalist," she tells him honestly, "but go ahead, I don't mind." Still, it's not until the taxi stops at a red light a few moments later that Peeta speaks again.

"So," Katniss can see his bright cerulean eyes look at her through the rearview mirror, "how was your night?" he asks. Katniss snorts. "That good, huh?" he adds, turning to offer her a sympathetic smile.

Katniss closes her eyes and shakes her head.

"Just one of those epic fail blind dates that you only ever hear about but don't think will ever happen to you," she chuckles.

"Aw, it couldn't have been that bad."

"He took his napkin, dabbed it in his water, handed it to me and told me to wipe all the makeup off my face, that I was embarrassing him." Katniss cringes at hearing herself retell it.

"Wait!" Peeta pulls up to another red light. "He really did that?"


"Please tell me you tossed his water in his face." Peeta turns to her.

"No." She sighs. "I walked out on him instead."

"Good." The light turns green. He shakes his head as he starts driving again. "I just can't believe that asshole." He catches her eye in the rearview mirror. "He's an idiot; you look beautiful." His eyes quickly dart back to the road.

"Uh… thank you," she whispers, feeling her cheeks warm up. She looks down to her lap and starts picking invisible lint off of her black skirt.

Neither speaks for a while as the taxi continues to move down the city streets. Katniss becomes distracted by the dryness of her mouth; how her tongue sticks to the roof of her mouth and how it's almost impossible to swallow against her dry throat.

"Um...ah." She leans forward so she can see all of his profile.

"Peeta," he answers. "My name… it's Peeta."

"I'm Katniss."

"Nice to meet you, Katniss." He glances at her in the rearview.

"Peeta, do you think there is anyway, if it's not too much trouble, could we maybe stop somewhere so I can get some water or something?"

"Oh yeah, sure," he says. "There is a 7-11 a few blocks up. I'll pull in there."

"Thank you." She sighs and rests back against the seat.

Peeta pulls into the convenience store parking lot and finds a spot right in front of the main entrance. Katniss reaches for the door.

"Do you want me to come with you?" he asks her. When she turns to look at him, she finds he's not looking at her but instead towards the store windows.

"I'm good," she replies, then exits the taxi and walks into the store.

Katniss walks to the beverage cooler and pulls out a sports bottle of water, then heads to the front of the store. She walks by a group of guys who are loitering in front of another cooler. When she passes they snicker. "Nice!" one of them says, obnoxiously loud. Katniss rolls her eyes and continues moving.

She places the bottle of the water on the counter, and catches the man behind the counter raise an eyebrow at her.

"$1.29," he barks at her. She reaches into her jacket, pulls out her wallet, and removes her debit card to hand to him. The cashier blows air out between pursed lips and taps the sign on the back on the register: Debit/Credit cards only on purchases $10 or over.

"Oh," Katniss flips through her wallet, but can't find any cash, She begins to scan the counter to see if there is anything in arm's reach that will bring her over the minimum.

"Listen," the cashier snaps. "Either you can pay for the water or get out of line. You're holding everyone else up!" Katniss cringes.

"I'll pay for it, darling, but it will cost you," She turns to find one of the guys from the cooler smirking at her. Her stomach turns. She can't imagine this night could get any worse.

"Fine." She pushes the water towards the cashier. "I don't have…"

"I got it." Katniss turns to her left in time to see Peeta slam two dollars on the counter. He grabs the water and hands it to Katniss before setting his eyes on the group of guys behind her.

"You got something to say?" the ringleader sneers at Peeta.

"I have plenty to say to you, but I doubt you'd understand any of it." Peeta then turns to Katniss, and throws on an easy smile, his eyes crinkling at the edges. "You good to go?" She nods and follows him out the door. She takes note of the silence behind her.

Katniss gets into the backseat, pops open the water in her hand, and begins gulping down the cool liquid, until she has to gasp for air. Peeta turns on the car.

"Thank you." Katniss breaks the silence. Peeta waves his hand in the air.

"Oh no, you don't need to thank me. I'm pretty sure I stepped over my bounds just then."

"No, I really do appreciate it. Any other time I would have been able to handle

that situation, but it's been a shitty night," she offers. He smiles and looks down. "I mean not the cab ride, that hasn't been shitty," she explains. Peeta's eyes lock with hers; the blue seems so deep she is sure she could drown in it.

"I know what you meant." An amused smile tugs on his lips, but she is sure she sees a flash of relief in his eyes.

"You can take the water out of the $150," Katniss adds.

"You got it." He pulls out of the lot.

The car falls quiet. Katniss is suddenly uncomfortable with the silence, but she isn't sure what to say. She peers over to the front passenger seat. There is a single subject notebook with a pen hanging on the cover, and next to it a text book.

"A Short History of Western Legal Theory by John Kelly," Katniss says out loud. "Interesting reading," she jokes.

"Oh," Peeta chortles, "no, I need to read it for my class."

"Are you in law school?" Katniss asks.

"Mmhm," he nods.

"What kind of lawyer are you studying to be?"

"Hopefully a good one." He laughs. "But my goal is to become a civil rights attorney, and get a job with the ACLU."

"Wow." The amazement is apparent in her voice. "That is really cool." Peeta glances back quickly and gives her a shy smile.

"So what do you do?" he asks her a moment later.

"Oh ah, nothing exciting. I just manage a sporting goods store in the mall," she offers with a shrug.

"That sounds like it could be a cool job."

"Eh, it's alright," she tells him. "The discount is really what makes the job."

"You play a sport?" he asks.

"I hunt,"she offers.

"Really?" he asks with a hint of amusement. "I would not have guessed that."

"Ha, yeah most people wouldn't. It's just something I did with my dad growing up, and when he died a few years back, I just kind of kept it up..." she trails off.

"I'm sorry about your dad,"Peeta says, after a few beats of silence.

"Thank you," she whispers back at him, as she tries to ignore the pit in her stomach that forms any time she mentions her father.

A quiet fills the car for a few blocks. Katniss notices that Peeta has brought them by the harbor. She stares at the tall sailboats docked, their masts illuminated by strings of white lights.

"I think that's what we do," Peeta breaks the silence. "Do those things that remind us of our dads, that remind us of being home and safe." He glances back at her.

"My dad, he owns a small bakery, has my whole life," Katniss leans forward so she can watch his profile as he speaks. "I worked that bakery counter ever since I could just see over it. Now my dad's older, and my mom wants him to sell the business and retire, but you can tell he can't stomach the idea." He glances at her in the rearview mirror.

"I guess the idea didn't really sit right with me either. Not being able to smell the fresh bread out the ovens, or decorate the cakes, or walk in there , just to walk out a short time later, covered in flour dust."

"So what happened?" Katniss asks, and rests her chin on the bench seat in front of her.

"Well, now I get up every morning to help with the bread and the cakes, and leave for my classes covered in flour," his mouth breaks into a slow grin.

"So you're a baker by dawn, a law student by day, and a taxi driver by night." She taps her lips with her finger. "When do you sleep?" she asks and Peeta laughs out loud.

"I take lots of naps," he chuckles, causing her to start laughing as well.

The night moves along, and so does the cab. She can't imagine her $150 can stretch much longer, but Peeta has yet to tell her that she's maxed out her fare, so she relaxes more into her seat, and continues her conversation with him.

They talk about their lives, their families, their favorite colors. Katniss has completely forgotten that she is sitting in a cab, driving away from the worst blind date imaginable; instead, she feels like she is passing the time talking to an old friend.

She studies the way his jaw moves when he speaks, the way the corners of his eyes crinkle when he smiles. The way his tongue juts out to wet his lips. Suddenly she feels warm, a flush creeping up her neck and face.

"Is it ok if I open a window," she asks.

"Of course."

The minute the cool air hits her cheeks she quietly sighs in relief. She inwardly chastises herself for getting worked up over her cab driver, of all people. But he is attractive, she thinks, and sweet, and he didn't have to bail me out back at 7/11, but he did. There's nothing wrong with me watching him a little, she tells herself.

Katniss smiles as her eyes find the strong curvature of his neck, and she suddenly has the overwhelming urge to drag her finger down it, or better yet to use her tongue.

"Grrrgh." Her stomach has chosen this very moment to remind her she hasn't eaten dinner tonight in the loudest possible way, and instead of the fire in her belly she felt while staring at Peeta, she's left with a grinding hunger.

"Grrrgh." Her stomach growls again, and this time Peeta chuckles softly.

"Hungry?" he asks her.

"Uh, I haven't eaten anything since this afternoon," she admits.

"Well," Peeta takes a sharp right turn, "let's do something about that."

Katniss watches with curiosity as Peeta travels the city streets, taking deliberate left and rights, until he stops in front of a small white building with a little wooden sign hanging from the arch. It reads Mellark's Bakery.

"Oh my god, did you bring me to your dad's bakery?" she gasps.

"Is that ok?" Peeta turns to her, looking alarmed. "I mean you want to get some food, right?"

She smiles kindly at him. "I would love some food."

The closed sign faces them as they walk up the stairs to the front door. Peeta pulls a set of keys from his pocket and quickly unlocks the door, holding it open so Katniss can walk in. The incessant beeping of the alarm fills her ears. Peeta punches in the code and the sound ceases.

"Come on." He gestures for her to follow him towards a counter; he nods towards one of the stools there and Katniss slips on it.

"Do you want something to drink? Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, juice, water?"

"Hot chocolate," she answers almost immediately. He smiles, and disappears behind a set of swinging doors, coming back a few minutes later with a steaming mug and a plate with some sort of pastry on it. He places both of them in front of her.

The wisps of chocolate-scented steam push past the peak of whipped cream in the mug and find her nose. Her mouth begins to water. She examines the plate next; on it, what she thought was a pastry seems to be a large flaky roll topped with melted cheese.

"What is it?" she asks as her eyes widen at the plate.

"A cheese bun."

"Mmm." Her stomach growls again. She takes the bun into her hand, brings it to her mouth, and bites down into the buttery layers. A burst of cheese fills her mouth when she reaches the center. Her taste buds go wild and she can't help the moan that escapes her lips at the taste of it.

"Oh my god," she groans before taking another bite. " Dat ish so good," she mumbles while chewing. She looks up to find Peeta watching her, a look of fascination on his face as he studies her mouth while she eats. "Who makes these?" she asks after bite four.

"I do," he smiles bashfully, and averts his eyes.

"Well never mind law school. I think you could solve the worlds problems with these alone," she gushes, and then looks regretfully at her plate when she realizes the bun is all gone.

"Want another?" Peeta asks, and she wastes no time nodding. He brings one for each of them this time, and sits down next to her with a cup of tea.

They eat in silence, but occasionally look up at each other, catching the other's eye, smiling before looking away. When they are both finished, Katniss looks to him, ready to mouth her thanks when he puts up his hand to stop her.

"Hold on, " his voice deep and quiet. His hand moves slowly towards her face, and her stomach begins to flutter wildly. His thumb reaches out, the tip touching the very bottom edge of her lip before he swipes it across her chin. "You," he clears his throat nervously, "you had a crumb there," he smiles shyly and looks away.

"Thank you," she whispers, still feeling the ghost of his touch on her skin.

Peeta cleans up their dishes and she silently follows him back to the taxi. Without thinking too much about it, she abandons the back seat in favor of the seat beside Peeta instead. She gently pushes his book and notebook over when she gets inside. Peeta looks at her with surprise, but quickly throws his book and notebook in the back seat to give her more room. Their eyes lock, and suddenly Katniss is sure that gravity is pulling her towards him. She is sure his mouth has just formed her name when the ringing of his cell phone breaks the moment.

"Yeah," Peeta says after answering the call. Katniss can hear the gruff voice coming clearly from the phone.

"Where the hell are ya, boy? Why didnt you check back in after your last fare?" the man barks.

"Because I'm still with that fare, Haymitch." he turns and gives her an apologetic smile.

"Well where the hell is she making you take her… London?" he spits. Peeta rolls his eyes.

"Yes and that's why its taking so long. I've been trying to figure out how to get the cab across the Atlantic." His words drip with sarcasm.

"Hmph," the man on the other end grumbles. "Well, she better be a good tipper. Your shift is almost over.

"Don't worry about it. I gotta go, bye." he says before ending the call. He drops the phone onto the seat. He takes a deep breath.

"Where to now?" he flashes her a quick grin.

"Should you bring me home?" she asks apprehensively. Peeta studies her a moment.

"Do you want to go home?" he counters, and she swears she can hear disappointment in his voice.

"Is my $150 gone yet?"


"Well," she pauses for a moment to think, "I'd rather not go home yet."

Peeta's broad grin lights up the cab. "Well then, where to?"

"I dunno, surprise me."

"Ok." Peeta nods before starting the taxi and pulling onto the road once again.

About ten minutes later, Peeta pulls into an empty parking lot. The lot faces a large beach. Katniss can see the moonlight sparkle on the dark ocean in front of them.

"Is it cool if we park here?" he asks her. She nods, her attention stolen by the bright stars in the night sky. Peeta turns off the engine, and the two of them silently stare off into the nothingness in front of them.

Katniss likes being here with him. She likes how close she is to him, in fact she wishes she was brave enough to move a little closer. She really likes Peeta.

A shooting star blazes across the night sky, catching her eye before all its light has burned away. She quickly makes a wish.

"I like you." Peeta's voice breaks through the silence, and causes the breath to catch in her lungs.

"I like you too," she manages to push out.

"This might make me a horrible person, but I'm kind of glad you had a shitty date." He looks down, but she can see a grin pulling at the corners of his lips. She begins to laugh. She couldn't agree more right now.

"So?" he asks shyly. "Want to see where this mutual attraction goes?"

"I'd like that a lot," she answers him honestly.

And just like that, they are staring into each others eyes and moving toward one another, ready to seal their words with a kiss like they do in all the fairy tales. Time moves achingly slow, and it seems to take forever before their lips finally touch, but Katniss is sure no Disney princess has ever felt what she feels next.

Their lips mold together and an explosion goes off inside her. The kiss has barely started before she starts feeling frantic. She gasps against his mouth, and a soft groan comes from his and suddenly she has sucked Peeta's bottom lip between her teeth, and when her teeth sink into it, both of them go wild.

The kiss takes on a life of its own. Her mouth slants over his, and his tongue glides against hers. His hands come to frame her face, and she grasps onto his wrists.

They shift closer to each other, doing their best to press their bodies together. Their hands fumble to grope at each other, but the steering wheel and and stick shift make their awkward movements unsuccessful. They pull away from one another. Katniss's eyes find Peeta's red lips, swollen from kissing. His mouth makes a small 'o.' He watches her intently and she knows he is letting her call the shots.

She knows at this point she could straighten her blouse, take a sip of cold water, chock it up as hormones and loneliness and have Peeta drive her home, but a familiar voice starts yelling in her head.

"Take a fucking risk, brainless," she hears her roommate Johanna's bark.

Her ornery roommate commonly directs this phrase at her, mostly while trying to convince Katniss to go out with some douchebag, but in this moment Johanna's words start sinking in.

"The back seat has more room," she says, still trying to catch her breath. Peeta's blue eyes widen, and a loud breath escapes him before he starts nodding.

Without a word, both of them get out of the car. Katniss scans the area to make sure there is no one around. When she is satisfied that they are the only ones here, she opens the back door and slips inside. Peeta is there waiting for her.

"Hi," he whispers. She mouths the greeting back to him, and then he advances on her. His mouth crashes into her, and she falls back, her shoulders pressing against the window. He kisses her lips and then his mouth trails across her cheeks and down her neck. His tongue juts out to lick the dip of her collar bone.

"Ahh." She shudders under the feel of his warm mouth on her tingling skin. Her fingers find his slightly stubbled face, and fall down to his shoulders and strong arms, before resting on his muscular sides.

His kisses continue to move down her body, dipping into her cleavage, causing her to exhale loudly. His splayed hand bravely moves up her stocking-covered leg, disappearing under her black skirt. He presses closer to her until he is almost on top of her. He looks up at her. His eyes are hooded, his breathing heavy. He pulls back, grabs her hips and gently pulls her so her back and head can lay flat against the seat. She smiles in appreciation for the better positioning.

He leans forward, one hand back on her upper thigh, gently squeezing; the other hand pressed into the seat, holding his weight up. He finds her mouth once again.

Her body sings at his close proximity. She can feel his heat and breath everywhere. The feel of his scorching kisses against her flesh sends her heart into a feverish pace. She aches to be closer. Her hips buck up and collide with his groin, causing his lips to break from her skin and for him to hiss through his teeth. She does it again and his eyes—which now look black—pin her with a heady gaze.

She whimpers softly as he dives towards her cleavage, his tongue dragging up the exposed skin in between her breasts, and when his apparent hardness, restricted by his pants, thrusts against her throbbing center she has to bite down on her bottom lip to keep herself from crying out.

He reaches down, and finds her center, hidden under nylons and wet panties and begins rubbing the area with his thumb.

"Oh God," she gasps out loud.

He watches her for a few moments, his chest rising and falling rapidly, his thumb making tight circles. He begins kissing the column of her throat, each kiss is open-mouthed and searing hot. The movement of this thumb never relents and every time she moans he groans softly against her skin.

Her orgasm overtakes her suddenly and she shudders to completion. Peeta watches her carefully as the waves of pleasure crash over her. When the final aftershocks finally roll away, she looks up at him and smiles before grabbing his shirt and pulling him down for a long, languid kiss.

"I want more," she whispers against his lips. He pulls away, studies her eyes for a moment and then nods before he hooks his fingers in her underwear and stockings and quickly pulls them down, revealing the olive-colored skin of her lean legs. He pulls them off her feet and drops them to the floor.

He reaches down and pulls a green mail carrier bag out from under the driver seat. He opens it and begins rummaging through it, a moment later pulling out a condom. Katniss watches with rapt attention, as Peeta shifts himself and unzips his pants. He sighs with relief as he pulls his hard cock free, and her eyes widen at the size of it. Her body aches for it. He rolls the condom over his shaft. His eyes search for hers; when they lock, he smiles.

"You are gorgeous," he tells her, kissing her lips gently before slowly pushing himself inside of her. She moans loudly at the feel of him filling her.

Once his cock has been completely sheathed inside of her, he kisses her again, then begins to move, his cock almost coming completely out of her before moving inside again. She grasps onto his back, her nails digging into him, causing him to groan. His thrusts deepen, and he picks up speed.

"Peeta," she gasps, breathless, against his throat. Her arms pull him tightly against her.

"Fuck," he groans. "You feel perfect."

Their moans bounce off the walls of the cab, and their mingled breath turns to condensation on the windows. Peeta's movements become harder and more erratic, and Katniss cries out, loving the feeling of him inside her, slamming into her. She can barely gasp for breath, and her stomach twists in pleasure.

His movements quicken. He lets out a series of grunts before letting his head rest against her chest. Her fingers move up to tangle in the sweaty locks of his wavy blonde hair.

"Holy shit," he breathes heavily against her moist skin. A large smile tugs on her lips.

After lying together for a long while, they finally pull apart. They climb into the front seats. She tells him her address, and they head silently to her apartment, although he holds her hand in his the entire time, his thumb rhythmically rubbing against the top of her hand.

Peeta parks in front of her apartment and turns off the car.

"Do you want to come up?" she asks, suddenly feeling shy.

"I have to get the cab back," he tells her regretfully.

"Oh." Peeta leans over, his mouth finding hers, and gently washes away any doubt she had.

"I had an amazing time with you, Katniss," he smiles against her lips. She nods in agreement. "Can I see you again?" He pulls back to study her eyes.

"I would really like that," she replies. She eyes a discarded receipt in the cup holder, and grabs it.

"There's a pen in the glovebox," he tells her. She retrieves it and scribbles her phone number down, then hands the receipt and the pen back to Peeta. A slow, sexy grin tugs at his lips, and she can feel fluttering in her stomach.

"Oh." She pulls her wallet out of her coat and retrieves her debit card. "I owe you money."

"Oh no," Peeta waves his hand. "This ride was on me."

"But," she pushes the card towards him, "you spent your whole night with me."

"And I loved every minute of it." He smiles at her, and she can feel a slight blush on her cheeks. "I'm not taking your money."

She reluctantly puts the card away, knowing that he won't give in. She points a finger at him.

"Then I get to pay when we go on our…" she pauses, "second date." She smirks.

"You got it," Peeta agrees a couple of heartbeats later.

Happy with the arrangement, she leans over, presses a kiss to his cheek, and exits the taxi. She is only a few steps from the cab when she hears Peeta call her name. She turns to see him looking at her.

"Your date was an idiot," he tells her. "You are a perfect blind date." Katniss can't contain her smile.

"Good night, Peeta."

"Sweet dreams, Katniss."

She pauses at the door, turning to wave for him before walking inside. He doesn't pull away until the door shuts behind her.

Many thanks to the lovely Court81981 who graciously edited this submission, even though I handed it to her literally at the last possible moment!

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