category: AU, Crossover (sort of)
author’s note: created for Prompts in Panem challenge 2012 on Tumblr (Round 2: AU Week--Other Worlds)
word count: 2274
disclaimer: they don’t belong to me, no money is being made. I’m only borrowing them. The Hunger Games was created by Suzanne Collins
story began: October 2012
story finished: October 2012
links: LJ | AO3 | original post
summary: Special Agent Katniss Everdeen has never been closer to discovering the reason behind her sister’s disappearance when Agent Peeta Mellark is assigned to keep an eye on her investigations into the strange and unexplained.
She's been afforded the luxury of her own private office.
Or is it banishment, as the snickers that weave their way through the halls of the Hoover Building say. Either way, her basement office is a far cry from the cubicle she had at Behavioral Science. No one down here but the F.B.I.'s most unwanted. At least this time there's no Machiavellian supervisor encouraging her to become one with the very criminals she profiled.
Her office now is a collection of newspaper clippings, neglected files (not by her), hulled out sunflower seeds and Prim.
The photograph--an afternoon of play--shows her little sister forever frozen at eight years old. Twin blonde braids gleaming in the sun.
Katniss Everdeen has never looked at a jungle gym the same way again.
Her office isn't much to write home about but it has everything she needs to work. Her connections with Congressman Heavensbee have given her this much.
She might no longer be the Bureau's “Girl on Fire”, solving high profile cases to the detriment of her health, but Katniss prefers it that way. Let her superiors shake their heads at her squandered career. Let her colleagues gossip about "Spooky" Everdeen hidden away in the bowels of the F.B.I.
Her answers are hidden away in the X-Files. Her files now. There are secrets to uncover. Among them is what happened to Prim. Anything less is unacceptable.
She's up at the crack of dawn and out the door before the first slivers of light reach her tiny Alexandria apartment. Running is a good way to clear her head. Katniss forgoes the nearby track in favor of a wooded and overgrown park. It's as close to the wilderness of her childhood as she can get in suburban D.C.
Upon her return, an unmarked package greets her by her apartment door.
Her secretive contact may be faceless but he or she has yet to steer her wrong. Obscure publications, news reports, addresses--those are her source's usual breadcrumbs. The F.B.I. issued personnel file in her hands is her source telling her to pay attention.
When Peeta Mellark walks through her office door he's all blonde hair and blue eyes. Unlike his department issued photo there's a quirk in his smile as he introduces himself.
"Agent Everdeen, I'm Peeta Mellark. I've been assigned to work with you."
“Oh, isn’t nice to be suddenly so highly regarded,” she remarks after a firm handshake. “So, who did you tick off to get stuck with this detail, Mellark?”
“Actually, I’m looking forward to working with you. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
"Oh, really? I was under the impression that you were sent to spy on me."
The twinkle in his eyes makes Katniss want to scare him away like the rumor mill says she’s capable of. Doesn’t he realize there’s only room in that office for one desk and she was here first. Damn Section Chief Crane for thinking that she needs a partner to rein her in.
They verbally tussle on topics ranging from genetic abnormalities to clandestine government projects to extraterrestrial life. For every single one he has a frustratingly articulate scientific comeback to refute her claims.
“When convention and science offer us no answers, might we not finally turn to the fantastic as a plausibility?” she finally proposes. It had been a while since she’d had a good argument. Even she’s starting to enjoy the company thrust upon her.
“What I find fantastic is any notion that there are answers beyond the realm of science. The answers are there,” Peeta Mellark remarks smugly. “You just have to know where to look.”
And so they stood. Both equally determined to come out on top and refusing to give up ground. Katniss sneaks a peek behind her new partner towards a corner of the office. OK, maybe they can figure out the desk situation.
Agent Peeta Mellark smiles too much for his own good.
He smiles inside their rental cars, during their flight layovers, at the nearest coffee cart two floors up, and especially at the local law enforcement they encounter out on the field.
For her part, Katniss scowls at the sexist county sheriffs they find between small town U.S.A and the middle of nowhere. If she’s feeling social she throws out a biting remark before she turns on her heel and makes her way out of their stuffy offices.
Peeta follows her waving incident reports and witness addresses. He makes things look so effortlessly easy. Give her sewers filled with Flukemen or angsty, lighting-attracting teenagers any day. Her partner can have the local law enforcement and their old boys' club.
Later, with a flourish he presents her with a to-go cup of decadent hot chocolate and Katniss thinks there might be something to this partner business after all.
In the middle of their flight home she awakens to find her head leaning against Peeta's shoulder. A small drool patch has begun to form on his dress shirt and Katniss sheepishly wipes the side of her mouth.
She's never been this close to him and so she takes the opportunity to study his sleeping face. Blonde, almost translucent eyelashes rest upon his cheeks and his normally tidy hair was mussed in his sleep. Peeta looks more like a college student than an F.B.I. agent.
On his lap is a notepad with some doodles in the margins among his field notes. Rough sketches of inanimate objects and more surprisingly what looks like the beginning of her profile can be found scattered throughout the page.
She looks back up at his face to find him looking at her through half-hooded eyes.
“I think you drooled on me,” he says in greeting. Sleep still threads through his voice.
Katniss straightens herself in her seat and moves away from her partner. She refuses to acknowledge the disappointment she feels at the disappearance of his warmth.
“You know I don’t get you, Mellark,” she tries to lace her voice with indifference. “All these months we’ve worked together, not once have you put in for a reassignment. Assistant Director Abernathy has repeatedly insinuated that you’re too good for me or the X-Files. I honestly think your tour of duty is coming to an end.”
“We’re partners, Everdeen. Where you go, I go.”
That level of loyalty is surprising to her. It’s been far too long since she’s been on the receiving of such dedication. Dedication or stubbornness she mentally corrects herself.
“Should I consider it a professional slight that you’re so anxious to get rid of me?” Peeta’s eyes are shining with mirth. He’s kind of hard to offend, which is probably why they’ve worked so well together. “And here I thought we were building something. I was gunning to eventually have my own desk in that lush basement office of ours.”
Katniss smiles when he brings up their running joke. “I told you, Mellark, there’s no room for a second desk. The area in the back is yours. Right next to slide projector.”
“Oh, you wound me, Everdeen.”
“Hmm, you do that a lot you know, use humor to deflect.”
"It's a defense mechanism. I'm the youngest of three. Every man for themselves. It’s like a magician’s sleight of hand trick. If you distract someone long enough they might forget why exactly they were so angry at you."
"So you were what looking to avoid a good tongue lashing for coming home after curfew or knicking the family car?”
Peeta shifts uncomfortably in his seat. Katniss realizes she’s hit a nerve and it throws her for a loop. They’ve worked together for almost a year and until now she’s never really seen her partner sweat.
“No,” he reveals quietly. “More like several good whacks across the face.”
An uncomfortable mood has settled between them. Peeta’s eyes drift anywhere but to her own. The frown lines on his forehead tell her that he’d said more than intended. Eventually, he offers her what’s supposed to be his trademark smile but instead it comes across as an awkward grimace.
Katniss doesn’t get too involved with her co-workers. At the BSU, it was a pressure cooker of like minded individuals. Everyone intense and everyone committed. When she made the rookie mistake of caring too much for someone, she paid the price and that price was a dear friendship.
Now, it’s this strange partnership that’s been forced upon her. Try as she might she can’t seem to shake Peeta Mellark. He’s watched her back on numerous occasions now and she his.
When she reaches over and places her hand on one of his, Katniss instantly feels his warmth and his sturdiness. She wants him to know that she can be sturdy for him. They’re partners, like he said.
Peeta grasps her hand in return and squeezes. He understands what she’s trying to communicate. Partners.
And so she tells him more about Prim.
To Peeta, Prim had simply been a photograph and no doubt part of the myth of Katniss Everdeen. He never pried and she never offered.
Partners are honest with each other. When she finishes, the look Peeta gives her is sympathetic but not full of pity and for that she’s grateful.
"How's the new partner, Ms. Everdeen?"
Katniss wrinkles her nose at the man next to her at the coffee shop. She eyes the pastries and contemplates taking some back to the office. Peeta is consulting on an autopsy for a friend this morning but he'll be in later.
"Do I know you?" She asks the tall man. He's striking, with deep green eyes and bronze colored hair.
"Let’s just say that I'm an admirer of your work. Sugar cube?" He offers, holding out his hand.
"No thank you."
"Well, more for me then," he replies casually as he drops two cubes into his coffee.
The stranger is dressed much like any other person with business in downtown Washington, D.C. Dark suit, business tie, dress shoes--the standard male uniform, but this man gives the appearance of being more than the standard Capitol type.
“My advice to you is to drop you albeit quiet inquiries into the connection between Panem Pharmaceuticals and the disappearance of your sister.”
Katniss is beyond shocked. A coffee cart down the street from F.B.I. Headquarters and in bright daylight is the last place she expects her investigation to be revealed.
“Who are you?” She demands with as much restraint as she can muster.
“Let’s just say that I’m in a position to know quite a lot of things about our government and they don’t want you or Agent Mellark involved.”
The realization falls deeply in her chest. This beautiful man before her, this man is her Deep Throat contact.
“It’s you isn’t it? You’re my source.”
“You’re treading down a dangerous path, Agent Everdeen,” he continues as if she’d never spoken.
"Why step forward now? You've been leaving me breadcrumbs for over a year now. Something’s changed hasn’t it? You wouldn’t be calling me off if I wasn’t on to something."
"I trade in secrets, Agent Everdeen and you have much work to do. Don't jeopardize the future of your own efforts."
And with that he turns around and walks into the surrounding crowd, leaving Katniss in a state of barely restrained anticipation.
Prim. She was close. She knew it.
Katniss had been pursuing some leads quietly. There was no need to get Peeta involved. If her contact’s warnings were legitimate, then it was time to pay a visit to Panem Pharmaceuticals.
"Try not to move,” she hears Peeta say through the fog in her mind. Her head hurts and her entire body is protesting its entire existence. Katniss can faintly hear the beeping of a heart monitor. She tries to speak but all that she manages is a hoarse whisper.
“Here, drink this slowly.” Peeta hands her a cup of tepid water but is soothes her parched throat.
“What happened?” Katniss asks after Peeta eases her hospital bed into an upright position.
“You've bruised your tailbone and sprained your left ankle. You're lucky. Considering how high you fell from. It could have been a lot worse."
Peeta’s face is unreadable. He’s upset. Of that she’s certain but his face is free of any telling emotion.
"Are you trying to get yourself killed?" He asks her in pained whisper. “Is finding Prim worth your own life? I have never met anyone so passionate and dedicated to a belief as you. It's so intense that sometimes it's blinding.”
There’s so much emotion in his words that she finds it difficult to speak. Doesn’t he understand that as much as she values his respect for her work, she needs draw a line in the sand for his own protection?
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I couldn’t let you risk your life on this. Whoever or whatever took Prim, I can’t allow it to hurt anyone else I care about. I’m expendable, Peeta. You’re not.”
Peeta grasps her hand and shakes his head as if refusing to acknowledge her words. His eyes shimmer with unshed tears.
"Katniss, we protect each other. It’s how we stay alive. Where you go, I go remember."
Katniss had never wanted a partner let alone a partner who was her perfect opposite. She was impulsive and he was rational. She scowled at the world and he greeted it with a smile. She’s not quite sure what brought Peeta Mellark to the X-Files but as far as partners go, she could do a lot worse.
Yeah so I shamelessly borrowed dialogue from several season 1 X-Files episodes. There is of course portions of the infamous first meeting between Mulder and Scully in the Pilot, as well as dialogue from episode 2 "Deep Throat and episode 16 "E.B.E.". This entry was originally posted at https://abby82.dreamwidth.org/62042.html, where there are comments. You may comment there using OpenID.