A/N: Okay here it is, finally! I honestly can't thank you guys enough for all the support you showed me regarding the person who stole this story. Thanks to every single person who reported it and demonstrated their unhappiness with the person for doing that. Because of you guys the story got taken down in less than 24 hours, so THANK YOU!

I'm sad to see this story end, but I enjoyed writing it so much and I'm still humbled by the amount of feedback and support it's received. Thank you all times a million. And especially thanks to the amazing Court81981 for being the sole source of support and encouragement for this story in the first place. You are the best beta/friend EVER! :)

I have two more one-shots already written. One is a part of the S2SL charity thing that will go live this friday so hurry up and donate if you want to read it! And the other is a post-MJ one that I'll post in a few weeks. :) Thanks again and enjoy! I'm on tumblr, come say hi ~ thegirlonpeetamellark :)

I bang on the door to Peeta's apartment urgently, muttering 'open up' under my breath and bouncing on my feet nervously.

Finally, after holding my breath in anticipation, a sleepy-looking Peeta, dressed in nothing but his boxers, opens the door, covering his mouth as he yawns.

"Katniss?" he mumbles in confusion.

I tell myself not to be distracted by the sight of his bare chest, his broad shoulders and flat stomach, and the indents of his hipbones. I'm mad at him right now; I can't start thinking about the things I want to do to him.

"You never texted me!" I exclaim, marching past him into his apartment.

He closes the door and turns back to me, rubbing his hand over the stubble covering his jaw.

"What?" he asks and I can tell that he's still half asleep. He shuffles over to the kitchen where his wallet, keys, and phone are laying out. He scrolls through his phone quickly, stifling another yawn.

"Oh fuck, I forgot to press send," he says, putting his phone down. "I'm sorry, baby, I was so tired when I got home I just passed out."

"It's okay," I assure him, taking his hand and pulling him down onto the couch in the living room. "Just tell me what happened. I couldn't sleep when I got home I was so worried about you. What did Chief Abernathy say? He didn't fire you, did he?"

Peeta leans back against the couch and puts his arm around me. "No, he didn't. I told you he couldn't fire me on the spot anyways."

I relax a little knowing that Peeta didn't lose his job because of me, but I can't breathe easy yet.

"Well, that's good," I respond. "What did he do then?"

"He talked to me," Peeta begins carefully. "He made it clear he didn't exactly approve of us getting together this week."

I run through his words in my head, trying to decipher his meaning. "This week?"

He laughs. "He told me he figured it would have happened eventually based on the way we were looking at each other all week, but that it would have been a lot smarter to wait until the ride along was over and you turned eighteen."

"Oh," I say dumbly, not sure how I feel about that. I guess Chief Abernathy was as perceptive about things as I thought. "So he didn't do anything to you?" I ask, hardly daring to believe it.

"Oh no, he put me on desk duty for two weeks," Peeta says. "And he also put me on an unofficial probation. He said he likes me enough and thinks I'm going to be a good cop, but if he officially wrote me up for this it wouldn't look too good on my record. So he said if I even so much as fill out a report wrong in the next six months he'll have my ass."

I feel the knot of anxiety that has been resting in my stomach since the Chief caught us making-out last night finally loosen and I take a deep, calming breath.

"So that's it? Desk duty and him watching you like a hawk?"

"Yeah, I got lucky," Peeta admits.

I throw my arms around him, unable to hold back a second longer. I press kisses along his neck and whisper that I'm sorry into his ear.

"You don't have anything to be sorry about," Peeta replies, pulling me onto his lap.

"I know, it's just…you could have…" I can't even finish the sentence, the unspoken possibilities of what could have happened to him as a result of the chief finding out about us is too upsetting to even think about.

"Hey," he says, pulling away and putting his finger under my chin to force me to look at him. "It's okay. We're okay. Nothing happened, really. I'm fine."

I let those words sink in. I let them soothe and console me and lull me into a sense of peace. I dip my head to kiss him, and when his hands drop down to my hips, I move so that I'm straddling his waist. His big, warm palms immediately find my behind, which he squeezes gently.

I moan into the kiss as he licks his way into my mouth. I rock against him, and I can feel him getting hard through the thin material of his boxers.

"Mmm…I missed you in my bed last night," Peeta mumbles against my lips when we break away, resting our foreheads against each other.

I get that warm, fuzzy feeling Peeta gives me when he says things like that and I bite my lip to suppress my grin. The pleasant warmth evolves into something hotter, a fiery burn that starts low in my belly and spreads throughout the rest of my body. The wetness between my legs and throbbing of my clit comes on so strongly I can feel my heart start to pound at a rapid pace.

I don't know what to do with the way he makes me feel, the way I crave his naked body flush against my own, the way I need his cock to fill me up and make me lose my mind. When I'm with him like that, it's like nothing else matters—it's like all the worries and fears I usually hold onto just cease to exist. It's an addicting feeling.

Luckily, he's already in just his boxers so we're halfway there.

I pull away from our kiss, tugging at his bottom lip with my teeth.

"Peeta, fuck me," I whine, rocking my hips into his already-hard cock.

He grunts, his eyes wild with lust, pulling my shirt up and over my head before I reach around to unclasp my bra. He sucks on my nipple and palms the other breast, kneading it with just the right amount of pressure.

As my hips start to gyrate against his aggressively, he palms my ass and stands up from the couch, moving to carry me into his bedroom. When he deposits me on the bed, I don't even have a chance to reach for them before Peeta is tugging my pants off and throwing them to the floor.

His hand immediately finds me, and he rubs me over my panties, circling my clit feverishly. I cry out and arch into his touch.

"You still want me to fuck you?" he pants into my ear, kissing down the column of my throat.

"Ye...Yes!" I manage to gasp out just as he pulls his hand away.

I'm so wound up at this point that I can only watch as he strips me of my panties and then does the same to his boxers. After he grabs a condom from his nightstand, he crawls onto the bed between my legs, sitting back on his heels. He rolls the condom down over his cock and then pulls me towards him, lifting my hips up onto his lap so he can slide into me.

"Oh god…" I moan, arching my back and grasping at the bed sheets. With my pelvis tilted up like this he is hitting an entirely new part inside of me, and my vision goes spotty for a moment from the pleasure.

His hands wrap around my waist firmly, pulling me down over his cock over and over again, his rigid length sliding through my dripping wet folds at the perfect, rough pace. He feels so impossibly deep and he's hitting all the right spots inside me that make me quiver in ecstasy.

"Is this what you wanted?" he asks, quickening his pace.

"Fuck!" I cry, thrashing my head back and forth, the pure bliss threatening to undo me.

"You look so god damn hot," he grunts, reaching a hand up to palm my breast. "I've never felt this way before. I could fuck you every single day and it wouldn't be enough."

"Peeta!" I scream his name, ready to break in half. His love for me, his way with words, his cock pounding into me over and over again; I've never felt this way before either.

"Come for me, Katniss," he commands, his thumb circling my clit firmly, and I do exactly as he asks, shattering into a million pieces.

He drops my hips to the bed and moves over me, settling into the cradle between my legs and finding his rhythm again. Slower and more controlled, the aftershocks of my orgasm are still rolling through me as he continues his total possession of my body.

"I want to fuck you. And I want to make love to you. I want to make you come so many times you lose count. I want to make you beg for it."

My eyes roll to the back of my head as he whispers in my ear and thrusts deep inside me over and over again.

"You feel so good wrapped around my cock, so hot and wet and tight," he reaches up and cups my breast, and I whimper in response. "You were made for me. You're mine, Katniss."

My nails dig into the strong muscles of his back and he grunts, snaking his hand down between my legs to find my still sensitive clit. At first I'm not sure I can handle it, but he rubs gently until the pleasure sparks and consumes me all over again.

After a couple of firm strokes I'm coming, and then he's coming, and we collapse into a mess of heaving, sweaty limbs.

When we've come down to earth, he plants kisses along the crook of my neck. "I don't care what the chief did to me. I would do it all over again. I just want you, Katniss. Always."

Two days later I turn eighteen.

We have a nice, quiet meal at home that is less tense and uncomfortable than most of our family interactions since Prim passed. My father actually gets home from work at a decent hour, and my mother speaks quietly and seems to actually know what's going on around her.

After the dishes have been cleared, my father brings out the same mint-chocolate-chip ice cream cake that I've gotten every year since I was a child with eighteen candles flickering with tiny flames on top.

The sound of both my parents singing 'Happy Birthday' to me causes a lump to form in my throat, and I have to swallow past it to shoot them both a grateful smile. Their presence reminds me that maybe I've not been as alone as I've thought this whole time, maybe we all just needed to deal with our grief in our own ways, and maybe we can still find our way back to one another.

I blow at the candles, and they give me a mock cheer, my father pressing a kiss to my temple when there is a knock on the door.

"Who could that be?" my mother asks, frowning in concern.

My father gets up to answer it, and I follow him until I can see the front door from the edge of the living room

"Hi, Mr. Everdeen, I'm not sure if you remember me."

My heart jumps out of my chest when I recognize Peeta's voice.

"Office Mellark," my dad says, clearly just as surprised as I am to see Peeta here.

"You can call me Peeta, sir," he insists. "I hope I'm not interrupting, but I was wondering if I could speak to you for a moment privately?"

"Um, uh yeah sure…" my father agrees, but I can sense the confusion and hesitance in his voice. He steps outside and closes the door behind him.

I run over and peel the curtain away from the window next to the door, watching Peeta and my father speak. I can only hear vague mumbling, and they must be talking very quietly. I see Peeta's eye dart over my father's shoulder briefly, looking right at me. I drop the curtain in shock and run back to the dining room table to rejoin my mother.

"Who was that, dear?"

"Umm…." I stall for time, and as I do I hear the front door open and two pairs of footsteps and two voices echo in the hallway.

"Katniss, look who it is," my father says, returning to the table with Peeta trailing close behind.

"Hey, Katniss." Peeta smiles at me, sliding into the seat next to me. "I hope you don't mind me crashing your birthday celebration."

I realize I must look ridiculous, staring at the pair of them with my mouth hanging open like a fish, trying to figure this situation out. Peeta and I had agreed that I would call him after dinner for our own private celebration.

"Um, not at all," I manage to get out. "Can I ask what you're doing here?"

"I was…well, I was hoping that…" Peeta scratches the back of his neck nervously, not quite meeting my eyes. I frown in confusion, wondering what he could possibly be up to. I look over at my father, who is watching us with a look of amusement.

"Do you want to get coffee sometime?" he blurts out.

I stare at him in shock, glancing over at my father, who is whispering something in my mother's ear. The corner of her mouth turns up in a small smile, and I return my attention to Peeta.

"I'm sorry for coming over here like this, but well, I wanted to make sure it was okay with your mom and dad if I took you out sometime, given how we met and everything," he says, and a blush creeps across his cheeks.

I stare back at him dumbfounded for a long moment before I force myself to get it together.

"Umm…uh yeah, I'd really like that," I reply, and he grins back at me in response.

"Great!" he says before turning back to the table.

I watch as my mom offers him a slice of cake, still too in shock to process what's going on.

It's only when he slides his hand under the table and knots his fingers with mine that I take a deep breath and relax. I watch as he charms my father and makes my mother laugh, amazed that he would go to such lengths to get my parents' approval when he already has me.

A few days later Peeta finally has a day off work, and we get to celebrate my birthday properly.

He buries his head between my legs and makes me sing for him.

Later, we drag ourselves out to a nice restaurant in the next town over, so we don't have to worry about running into anyone. My parents may have given him the seal of approval, but we still want to keep this just between us for a little while longer.

The restaurant is dark and intimate, and we sit on the same side of a small curved booth in the corner of the room. Our waiter has an Italian accent, and he gives us free glasses of wine without checking our IDs because he says we are 'una bella coppia'—a beautiful couple.

Peeta's hand stays firmly around my shoulders as we order and wait for our meal, pulling me into his side and whispering into my ear. Once our food comes, he moves his hand down between us and curls his hand around my leg. His fingers tease my inner thigh and slip past the hem of my dress, making my center start to ache for his touch.

"You can't tease me like that," I admonish him playfully, placing my hand on top of his to stop his movements.

He grins and leans in close, pushing my hair away from my neck and trailing his nose along my throat and pressing a kiss to that spot behind my ear.

"I want you wet and ready for me."

I bite my lip and try to stay focused on my food. If I let my mind start to wander to things I want to do with him later then I won't be able to do anything else.

"I don't think that'll be a problem," I tell him with a private little smirk.

"You're so beautiful you know that," he says, turning to face me fully. He seems to have completely forgotten about his meal.


"I'm serious, Katniss," he insists. "I haven't had a lot of good things in my life, but then you came along and…"

He trails off, and I stare up at him, my heart beating a mile a minute. I don't know where this sudden sentimental streak is coming from, but it makes me love him even more.

For the rest of the dinner, he is constantly touching me and whispering sweet things into my ear. When we finish, he insists on taking a stroll down the street, past the little shops and stores that are just starting to close down for the night.

Finally we come to a park bench, and he pulls me down to sit beside him.

We sit in silence like that for a while, his hand soothingly rubbing my arm up and down as people pass us on the sidewalk. An older couple passes by and smiles at us, whispering to each other with pleased looks. A guy walking his dog apologizes when his golden lab comes up and starts licking Peeta's hand.

"Your dad wants me to talk to you about your plans for college," Peeta says out of the blue, breaking the silence and peacefulness of this moment.

I pull away and look at him with a frown.

"So you're his representative now?" I ask with an edge to my voice. "I didn't realize this was going to be the result of you two getting so close," I add bitterly.

"Hey, it's not like that," he insists, tugging me back to his side. "I wanted to meet your father and get his approval so he would know who is taking care of his daughter. I didn't want there to be any confusion about my intentions with you."

I roll my eyes. "Is it the 1950s?"

He laughs and the sound is enough to ease most of my frustration. "No, but we didn't exactly meet in the most orthodox of ways, Katniss. I just don't ever want to give him reason to doubt how much I care about you, for him—hell, for anyone—to ever think for a second that I took advantage of you."

I sigh and feel myself melt a little at his words. I realize doing this the right way, making sure no one ever questions the legitimacy of our relationship is important to Peeta. This is more than just a random hook-up between a young cop and teenage girl who were forced to spend the week together.

"Well, I don't know yet what I'm doing for college," I answer his original question.

"You should take courses at the community college, and give yourself time, figure out what you might want to do," Peeta says.

I nod my head in agreement, realizing this is probably my best, and really, only option.

"Yeah, I know. I guess I'll just have to live at home for another couple of years."

I hear the slight bitterness in my voice, and I want to make sure Peeta doesn't think I'm unhappy with the idea of getting to live near him for a while longer. It's the thought of being stuck in that home. As much as I've felt progress with my parents, I know that they'll fall back into old habits soon enough. And there are just too many memories there, reminders of Prim that are sometimes too painful to handle, that I want a break from.

"Well, um...actually I…" Peeta trails off and removes his arm from around my shoulders. He reaches into his coat pocket and removes two small boxes.

"Birthday gifts," he explains, weighing each item in his hand like he's debating which one to give me first.

"I said you didn't have to get me anything," I protest.

"And what kind of boyfriend would I be if I actually listened to you about that?"

Finally, he places the smaller of the gifts on his lap and holds out the other one for me.

I tear the wrapping to reveal a small box, and when I open the lid, I gasp at the beautiful silver necklace strung with a single translucent pearl.

"It's okay if you hate it," Peeta blurts out. "I just thought you'd like simple jewelry, and I wanted to get you something special, something that you could look at and think about us."

I turn to him, my mouth hanging open in awe. I wonder if I'll ever get used to having someone like Peeta in my life, someone so good and gentle and loving. I want to pinch myself to remind myself that this is real. He's real.

His face is flush, and he doesn't quite meet my eyes. I use a finger under his chin to tip his gaze in my direction.

"I love it. It's beautiful. Thank you so much." I press a kiss to his lips and I feel him sigh with relief.

"Put it on," I demand excitedly, handing him the necklace and turning my back towards him. I pull my hair away from my neck and wait as his gentle hands carefully fasten the clasp.

"I'm glad you like it," he says when he's done, pressing a kiss to my shoulder.

"I love it," I correct him, turning back to face him.

My eyes dart to the other, smaller gift on his lap.

He follows my gaze.

"This is uh…this is for you," he says, handing it to me like he has to give it to me before he changes his mind.

I unwrap the box and find a small, silver key inside.

I pick it up and stare at it in wonder for a long moment, trying to decipher its meaning, what it's for, why he would give it to me.

He answers my unspoken questions.

"It's a key to my apartment. I want you to have it so you know that you're always welcome at my place, so you know how much I love you, how serious I am about us."

I look over at him, my mouth falling open in wonderment. I can feel the tears start to build behind my eyes.

"I know that you won't always want to be at home. I know that you used to need a place to go and get away from it all, to be alone. And I don't want that place to be somewhere dangerous where you could get into trouble. I can't afford you meeting another cop on a ride along with a weakness for beautiful grey eyes and olive skin."

I laugh through the tears streaming down my cheeks.

"I know I can't protect you from everything. And I know I can't do everything, be everything for you. But I want to help. I want to be there when you need me." He pauses and scratches the back of his head bashfully. "You can come over whenever you want, whether I'm there or not. If you need to get away from your parents, or you just want time to think."

I can't stand it any longer.

I throw my arms around his neck and crush my lips to his, pouring everything I feel for him into one, heart-stopping kiss. I lick his bottom lip and caress his tongue with my own. I moan against his mouth in pleasure, my nails dragging through his hair.

I whisper 'thank you' and 'I love you' and other sweet things into his ear as he nuzzles my neck with his cheek and his nose.

"I'm in this, Katniss," he whispers into my ear. "I'm in this for the long haul."

I smile, knowing that I must look ridiculous, grinning like a fool.

Peeta came into my life like a storm, a whirlwind of unexpected good fortune when I thought I had hit rock bottom.

I never thought I was one for blessings and luck, not with the tragedy of my past. But meeting a cop with a heart like Peeta's, falling for the best man I've ever known, and having him love me back is the best thing I could have ever hoped for.

I pull back and look into those blue eyes that no uniform or gun could ever make deadly.

"Take me home, Officer Mellark."