Gale: Chapter 1
A/N: I had barely put my three little x’s at the end of Everdeen when Gale started whispering in my ear. He had a story to tell too.
This is his point of view of the ending I wrote for the series.
I hope you like it. I still own none of it.
I begged Katniss to shoot me as I was pulled further into the tiny, brightly colored apartment. I could see her confusion and wondered if she didn’t understand me or simply was conflicted about doing it. I hoped it was the former. I’d always hoped we would do it for each other if that moment ever came. And mine had come.
The irony that I’d given my suicide pill to Peeta flickered at the back of my mind since I had also given him my girl. He would have the life I wanted unless he chose to take the death I’d wanted as well. He had it all.
I’d always heard that right before death, your life flashed before you, and as my captors forced me to my knees, my hands clasped on my head, I learned it was true.
It wasn’t so much a sequence of events as a greater picture of life. The weight of the people I loved seemed to be constricting my heart. I felt the presence of my family and thought how hard it would be on my sister. She wasn’t even born when our father died, so I was the only kind of father she knew. And my poor mother would have another loss to suffer. I knew my brothers would have each other and didn’t fear for them as much. And then there was Katniss. Her hold on my heart was stronger than all the rest, and I regretted that I’d never told her I loved her.
I had tried to tell her the day we said goodbye after that first reaping, but I was taken away before I could finish. I hoped she knew then just as I hoped now, at the very end of my life. Surely she knew just as surely as I knew she loved me.
I hadn’t always loved her, of course. At first she was a pain in my side when I didn’t need one. I found her in the woods one day inspecting one of my snares. I didn’t know her name although she was familiar to me as one of the kids in the Seam. She was just a girl though, and my interests in her gender were for much more mature choices. I liked girls. I loved girls, one in particular. But Katniss was way too young to be of any interest to me in that department.
I was actually going through quite the drama at that time and a young girl following me around while I hunted was the last thing I needed. At fourteen, I already had girl trouble—the kind that should be reserved for men. But sometimes boys in the Seam had to grow up faster than others. I’d learned that lesson the previous year when my father was killed in the mines.
When I lost my father, even though I was thirteen, I was already taller and broader in the shoulders than the other boys in my grade at school, so I looked too old to cry for my daddy, but that’s what I did. I tried to be adult about it, but I was devastated.
We had had a big fight the day before he died. I was just being a hormonal teenager and could later see that the fight would have meant very little to him. But at the time, I was haunted by my last words to him—that I wished he had a different job because I was embarrassed to live in the Seam. Of course, later I wished he’d had a different job because his job was what had killed him.
I started hunting regularly after his death, mostly because we needed the food or what I could trade for it, but also to get away from my family. It was tough being so young and having to take on the responsibilities of a man. I resented my family for needing me, and hated myself for resenting them.
I wanted to run away, even at that age, and often fantasized about living in the woods alone, needing no one and having no one who needed me.
Of course, I began to change my mind that year as girls began to hold my interest more than anything else. I decided I didn’t want to live in the woods because there were no girls to kiss in the woods. And I didn’t dare take any there—it was just too dangerous.
So, I kissed them behind the school, on the slag pile, in the alleys in the Hob—anywhere I could find a little privacy. I didn’t want a girlfriend like some of my friends had. I wanted to kiss all the girls. And so I tried my best.
I learned pretty quickly which ones would let you use your tongue, and which ones would let a hand roam a bit over their blouses. It was when I was with such a girl that I first really noticed Lola. She and some of her friends caught me kissing a girl behind the school, and they ran away giggling. But I saw Lola stop and stare a little longer and she gave me a knowing smirk before she took off.
I knew who she was. She was seventeen—a good three years older than I was, and had the body of a woman—not the slight curves of the girls in my grade. Her parents owned the hardware store in town and I traded with them occasionally for the supplies for my snares and traps. Lola had the plumpness of the well-fed and the blonde hair and blue eyes of the merchants in town. I thought she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen.
I started hanging around the hardware store like a puppy dog, always eager to get a glimpse of her. And then one day, she took me by the hand down into the cellar when her parents weren’t looking and showed me the real difference between a fourteen-year-old and a seventeen-year-old girl. While the other girls had batted my hands away, Lola pressed them into her body willingly. Clothes came off. Bodies touched. She didn’t let me do everything. She insisted on it. And I fell in love with her.
Between school, hunting, and trading in the Hob, I really didn’t have a lot of free time, but I always seemed to find time to see Lola.
It was during this time that I discovered Katniss in the woods and she started tagging along. I couldn’t wait to get rid of her every day so I could try and sneak in a visit with Lola before dark, but sometimes Katniss delayed me and I missed my chance for a trip to the cellar. I knew I should be grateful for Katniss in a way because she taught me a lot about gathering plants for food and medicine and showed me some of her secret places in the woods with rich pickings. But she was also a kid, and I thought of myself as a man by then.
One evening, I hurried her home after our run through the Hob so I could get to Lola. I’d saved a handful of early strawberries to give to Lola, knowing what my reward would be, but when I sneaked down to the cellar, I found Lola in tears.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
She shook her head and wiped her cheeks, saying, “You’re not going to like it.”
My mind ran through possibilities of things I wouldn’t like. She met someone else. Her parents found out about us. She didn’t want me any more. I braced myself and said, “Just say it.”
She gestured to the basket in my hand and asked, “Are those for me?”
I nodded and handed her the strawberries.
She sat on an old stool and started eating the berries one by one, still crying, until she looked up at me and said, “I’m sorry, Gale, but I’m pregnant.”
That was news I hadn’t even considered.