“Katniss,” he says softly, “it’s no use pretending we don’t know what the other one is trying to do.” No, I guess there isn’t, but it’s no fun discussing it, either. Well, not for us, anyway. The Capitol viewers will be glued to their sets so they don’t miss one wretched word.
“I don’t know what kind of deal you think you’ve made with Haymitch, but you should know he made me promises as well.” Of course, I know this, too. He told Peeta they could keep me alive so that he wouldn’t be suspicious. “So I think we can assume he was lying to one of us.”
This gets my attention. A double deal. A double promise. With only Haymitch knowing which one is real. I raise my head, meet Peeta’s eyes. “Why are you saying this now?”
“Because I don’t want you forgetting how different our circumstances are. If you die, and I live, there’s no life for me at all back in District Twelve. You’re my whole life,” he says. “I would never be happy again.” I start to object but he puts a finger to my lips. “It’s different for you. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be hard. But there are other people who’d make your life worth living.”
Peeta pulls the chain with the gold disk from around his neck. He holds it in the moonlight so I can clearly see the mockingjay. Then his thumb slides along a catch I didn’t notice before and the disk pops open. It’s not solid, as I had thought, but a locket. And within the locket are photos. On the right side, my mother and Prim, laughing. And on the left, Gale. Actually smiling.
There is nothing in the world that could break me faster at this moment than these three faces. After what I heard this afternoon… it is the perfect weapon.
“Your family needs you, Katniss,” Peeta says.
My family. My mother. My sister. And my pretend cousin Gale. But Peeta’s intention is clear. That Gale really is my family, or will be one day, if I live. That I’ll marry him. So Peeta’s giving me his life and Gale at the same time. To let me know I shouldn’t ever have doubts about it.
Everything. That’s what Peeta wants me to take from him.
I wait for him to mention the baby, to play to the cameras, but he doesn’t. And that’s how I know that none of this is part of the Games. That he is telling me the truth about what he feels.
“No one really needs me,” he says, and there’s no self-pity in his voice. It’s true his family doesn’t need him. They will mourn him, as will a handful of friends. But they will get on. Even Haymitch, with the help of a lot of white liquor, will get on. I realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me.
“I do,” I say. “I need you.”